Back in 2000-01, IIT coaching classes were abundant. L.V or L. Venketaraman was the Professor. He seemed like a genius, who did every problem that existed using progression - AP, GP and HP. Me and few other big losers used to attend his classes. It was close to diwali, he persisted that we attend his class regularly. I knew I was no good for IIT, lost hope and was wasting time and money there, warming those benches. So I bunked one, went to buy new attire. Next class he called me up and said "I know why you bunked... you were not ill.. its DDiwaaleee DDiwaalee"
stressing on D and ee. What did I do, smirked, blushed in embarrassment, surprised by his ESP and amused by the way he said DEE- WAAA-LEE twice.
I don't remember clearly what happened that diwali. The usual potato bonda, idli with gatti chutney and of course sweets and savories for breakfast. My moms cherubic smile when she says "sooper" on seeing me in new attire. Crackers then. The usual ritual of going to my aunt's place must have happened. Mostly I would hesitate to go, to stay with friends in neighborhood but the good food and the 100 Rs pocket money I would receive on prostrating in front of my aunt and uncle was irresistible. 12 std was not like your 12 std, were you might have had a hero honda or at least a kinetic honda, well... I just had bonda. My dad thought 'mentally' I never matured. I felt I never matured(be it physical, mental and spiritual). Pocket money was almost nil. He had a reason, he was a doctor. He knew mentally unstable people are not supposed to have cash.
me: Appa, 10 rs....
my dad: edhukku? (for what?)
me: hm.. er... summa (just like that)
my dad: hmmm adhu summa yen purse la irukattum (let it be 'just like that' in my purse)
A whole 50 Rs was like cheese to Jerry, a whole 100 Rs was like soccer world cup victory. So I would eat the amazing food my aunt had cooked, meet the other aunts and uncles, get embarrassed, make other cousins blush in embarrassment. Fight for the hard earned (in 3 seconds of prostration and letting some real estate in my forehead for lease to my aunt and uncle for the viboodhi - sacred ash), elusive money with my dad on our way back to my house...err.. my dad's house in the Auto, sitting on that side bars, with my butt(if any) protruding outside. He wouldn't budge. So did my butt. He would probably give me 20%. Not cheese, not the world cup but some 'eese' n the 'world'.
Then see the Rajini movie on Sun tv (mostly, almost all the time baasha), watch Prakash uncle and his family burst the crackers in our flat/apartments terrace during the news interval. Get back to the movie, come back to terrace to see the Chugani family burst some crackers as their diwali just started and continued until the next day night. Go back home and sleep. Every diwali back then was not comforting. It was a weird feeling. More like a boy sitting in wet jeans in an excursion having a ball shouting. Fun was omnipresent but the occasional feeling of the moisture, cold and irritatingly uncomfortable.
Nov 7th, 2007. 3:30 pm pst, Palo Alto, VMware - I sit in my cubicle, bleeding c++ code. Intermittent pondering on things - when exactly is Diwali, 9th or the 8th ? The damn thoughts.
Googling resulted in nov 9th. Later realized and thought of Chugani family who always celebrated diwali the next day - me and other southies have it on ettaan thedhi(8th), north Indians - onboaadhey! (9th). With that insulting revelation or rather a painful self realization I headed to the gym around 5pm. Frustrations and the happiness shaped hole in my universe, MADe me spend 90 mins in the gym. Head back, had a 6 inch sub in the omnipresent subway. Called up home, My dad was boasting his Kurta and his jeans, his other son had bought him, un clear due to the potatoe bonda in his mouth, my mom bragging about her 4.5K silk saree paid in pounds using a plastic card by an aspiring neurologist aka my brother. Called up my aunt and uncle. They said they missed me, they wished that they handed me that 100 Rs and paint my forehead.
100 Rs is not world cup victory (time with family is). Fun is not omnipresent(subway is). Happiness is hard to earn these days. Miss the embarrassments. Yearn for the enthusiasm I once had. Regret the physical and mental maturity that has spread into me like the tea from the tea bag. 3 years of DDiwaalee outside India, away from home will show up, show up like a pop-up in IE7. It has left a scar. One of many lessons that Prof. Life continues to teach. Its ingenuous. Hopefully I will be with the my family for the next DDiwaalee.
To quote Andy Dufresne "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies"