The Priceless Diwali Gift

Sunday, October 19, 2014

There were reasons that I had not been home for Diwali for the last three years. Most of my leaves get utilized traveling. You see, I am still stuck in dogma. I am still running in the rat race and from within that, I steal myself at times using privileged leaves to fuel my wanderlust. One day I will wake up at the time I want to wake up, go home when I want to go home and when it would come to traveling, I wouldn't have to wait for someone's approval to set sail. That day will come soon, but that's another story.

My home is in a town called Silchar, in Assam. The North Eastern India that is suddenly in everyone's bucket list - yes I grew up there. It takes 30 hours to travel from Mumbai to Kolkata, 20 hours from Kolkata to Guwahati and then 13 hours from Guwahati to Silchar, considering there has been no landslides on the hill that has blocked the road off - a natural disaster which is unpredictable and yet quite common on that route. Oh! I forgot it's the jet age. You can take one flight and whoosh - you can cross the 7 seas. Well in this case, you have to take two flights - Mumbai to Kolkata and Kolkata to Silchar, and you don't need to cross even a single sea. But the catch is, it costs as much as a return trip to Thailand. I know many of you are going to tell me that money doesn't matter, people who love you do. All of that sounds nice, until you get hit by the 5 digit credit card bill. 

So there I was, traveling to Europe for the first time last year - just before Diwali. Now for Bengalis, Durga Puja is a much more splendor celebration than Diwali. But heading home just before an International trip was out of question. I had a lot of VISA formalities going on and there was this funny feeling in my stomach that did not let me believe that I was actually flying to Switzerland, till I stepped out of Zurich airport on a rainy morning. 

My parents were happy, of course. 

But mothers will always be mothers, so she complained, "You get time and leaves to travel far and beyond, yet you have neither time nor leaves, when it comes to coming home!" 

My Dad just said "Since you couldn't come for Durga Puja, we thought may be you could head home during Diwali. But now since that possibility is gone, try to come during the winters during Christmas." 

"Dad, I am not in school any more!" I said, feeling a little annoyed, "There are no Christmas holidays, except for a day off. But I'll check and see what I can do." 

I had to take a Swiss SIM card even for the short 10 days trip because of my over-worried parents. They just wanted a day-to-day update! The day I crossed the Swiss border into Italy, I told my Dad to stop calling me as I can't receive his calls on international roaming. 

All he said before disconnecting the call was - "We'll miss you during Diwali." 

My expression was - :(

There was this annoyingly buzzing voice at the back of my mind since that day. That voice crept up every now and then, till the day I was back in Zurich and was about to board my flight back to India, when realization suddenly hit me. 

I connected my phone to the airport wifi and did what I had to do. 

After 9 hours when we were about to land in Mumbai, I looked out of the window and said "Wow". It was the evening of Chhoti Diwali and Mumbai already looked decked up like a bride. 

20 hours later 

I entered through the door and said "Dad, are you so jobless that you are watching even the repeat telecast of the India vs Australia match?" 

He got as startled as someone who has just seen a ghost. Well I admit, I did look like a ghost - a terrible frail one who has just passed through a storm, or rather series of flights. 

May be she heard my voice, or may be it was just by motherly intuition that suddenly my Mom came out of the kitchen. What followed was a stream of surprised exclamations and cries that I really can't describe here. All I can say is that it was priceless. And then she said, "You must be so hungry, I'll make you something." About turn and she heads back into the kitchen again.Mothers!

Next came my sister, dashing out of her room. "What the F!" she stopped herself right there realizing Dad's in the same room. "You should have told me at least. You know I can keep a secret!" she complained.

"India won yesterday!" Dad said triumphantly, as he took the backpack. I felt worried as I saw my retired father carry my super heavy backpack to one corner.

"I know" I said, "That's the first news I checked after my flight landed in Mumbai yesterday."

"Like father, like daughter. I can't believe you still got the cricket bug!" he said.

"Travel first. Cricket second." I winked.

And as the camera panned out of our window (use your imagination), the sound of our laughter subdued in the background, you could see our home decorated with diyas and lights. It was Diwali night and I was home! Sigh... And so was my sister. The family was complete. The camera pans further up and you can see a show of firecrackers in the night sky. That was indeed a Happy Diwali! 

And all those who were about to tell me that money doesn't matter, love does - you are absolutely right! It took me few months to clear the credit card bill, but I got something way more precious in return - the smile on my parents' faces on that Diwali night.

This post is written for the #GharWaliDiwali campaign, in association with IndiBlogger. Click on to know more.

Wish you all a very Happy Diwali!!! Here is something to bring a smile on your face...

(Psst psst... I just realized after watching this video that THANK GOD! The door wasn't locked :P )

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