Dhudum…….fataaak……..dhooom. “Wow” I woke up with a start. Its 5.00am already. “Quick I need to go to take a bath before amruta gets up, and where are my clothes?” I would look around to see if my new clothes are where I had kept them last night. How can I ever forget that day when I am so eager to get up early & dress up. Narak Chaturdashi or the first bath of Diwali was always mesmerizing for me. The excitement to dress up in new clothes, the thrill to burst all those crackers & the irresistible Faral(all the diwali delicacies), nothing can match it.
“Ohh there they are, ok lets do this fast” thought I. It used to take half an hour for me to bath that day….come on it was the day you have to take a “Royal Bath”. But no Utna(Special Diwali bathing powder) for me, so how was it a Royal Bath, well keep the soap for a longer time, effect is directly proportional to time! “Arrey jay lavkar baher ye na”(come out fast) screamed amruta. Once I came out amruta was ready to get in.
All dressed up I was ready to go,“Jay devala namaskar kelas ka?”(Did you pray before god?) said Aai in that tone which I am missing so much right now. “Haan haan karto”(Yes I’ll do it) and I would go in front of the Devhara mumble something I had learnt in school and then rocket out to make sure all the others were ready. Kuldeep, Amit, Chetan, Rohit were on my checklist. Once I made sure everyone was up its back to pavilion for some breakfast, rather Faral today. As I came just outside my house I saw Aai drawing her really, really awesome rangoli. She doesn’t need any colors, it’s the white rangoli & her hands that do all the magic.
Amruta was ready by the time I came home after the “Wake up round”. “Aye chal lavkar, zhali na tayyar?”(Come on, lets leave fast) I yelled at her. “Arrey thamb khaudey tila”(Wait let her eat) said Aai. And so we sat down for a plate full of options, Chakli, Shankarpali, Karanji, Chivda, Shev. “Evadha nakko, me thodach khanar”(I’ll won’t eat so much) said amruta. Ohh yes I was with amruta on this one. “Nantar alyavar khau”(We’ll eat after we come back). Stuffing one of each in our mouth & we vroomed out of the house. The crackers still bursting everywhere we were ready with all our ammunition. Distributed over all the days of Diwali I took out today’s arsenal.
Starting with the Lavangi the decibel level of crackers would go up but I never bought bombs, ‘atom bombs’ as they were called. Mainly because I was afraid of bombs! “Well let’s try something different today”, I thought, “no more bursting crackers in the open, lets cover it up with a box & invent a flying box”. Everyone laughed and gave a nod to do it. There were 4-5 boxes literally flying 6ft off the ground! “Aye don’t do that” yelled someone’s dad, “it’ll hurt somebody!” “Ok kaka” we replied in unison, as if we were the most obedient kids on earth. Waiting anxiously for kaka to go, one of us would give a signal to bring back the “Air Force”….. in air!
“What? Out of stock??”, I was searching for some single lavangis if at all there were some, but hard luck. And so was the case with everyone else. It was time to head to the temples now. Could there be any other way to flaunt our new clothes than to go to the mandirs! It was so awesome a brigade of around 10-15 kids going to 3 of the temples near us, Swami Mandir at Sena Bhavan, Sai Baba Mandir & Ganpati Mandir in Shivaji park. A visit to the Siddhivinayak Temple in Prabhadevi & Mahalakshmi Temple in Worli was on the cards in the evening, along with aai & baba! Although Baba is a ‘Nastik’(doesn't believe in god), he’s never reluctant to going to any temple, saying he loves the art & eats the Prasad as a sweet!
As amruta & I enter the house we see aai & baba calling up & greeting people over the phone. We chip in when it’s one of the mamas or aatya on the line. I still look back to that day in the Hindu calendar which brings everyone together to share their happiness and just hope that some day….. some day again I can relive my childhood diwali :’(