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Liquid Spirit

My blogging schedule is somewhat akin to what regularly used to happen to friends on bike trips. Like their rides, the year started decently enough and I averaged a steady 2 posts a month. Which, considering my 'dull-as-ditchwater' life, is awesome. Then the wheels came off in August (like a Bullet's silencer on one ride) and there just wasn't anything to write about. Nothing cheerful anyway, and my loyal readership of one hinted strongly that I should put a sock in the melancholy blathering. So that was that.

But Diwali happened and it's given me an excuse to pen this.

I like Diwali. The goodwill, warm wishes and hope for the new year affects even a curmudgeon like me, so there's some mighty powerful waves floating around I reckon. The sibling and I gave up on the dreadful Tamil Diwali custom of waking up at dawn for an oil bath many years ago and our parents got the message. Of course, the fact that we'd get to burst firecrackers and eat like starving animals right after was awesome, but the enthusiasm wore out. I used to love having legiyum (and it is yum indeed) before pigging out shamelessly on Thattai, Thengol, Nada, Mixture, Ribbon Pakoda and what have you, right around breakfast time.

Used to is about right because nowadays I feel blessed to even get legiyum. See, the art of making Diwali snacks has evaporated in my family. Most of the women are now elderly or unenthusiastic, preferring to buy it outside. And who could blame them? It was a heck of a lot of work to begin with. And I can't imagine how galling it must have been for the ladies to see their backbreaking efforts scarfed down along with hot coffee by the clueless, lazy men of the house without so much as a smidgeon of gratitude.

Also, with expanding waistlines and lungs that feel like leaky bellows, we've become health-conscious, which is a polite way of calling ourselves boring. So, nowadays most of our efforts are geared towards distributing whatever dreadful sweets we get somewhere else, faster. Like dealing cards at Rummy, we just shuffle all the boxes and start handing out stuff.

We stopped bursting firecrackers years ago too. Don't get me wrong. Unlike much of 'Hysterical Twitter', I like 'em. Fountains, rockets and the colourful stuff, mainly. I never could enjoy the noisy ones. But the sibling and I felt strongly about the issue of child labour and simply quit one year, much to our poor father's confusion. However, he eventually cottoned on to the fact that it meant massive savings and no more was said about it. We dutifully tried to enthuse ourselves about getting new clothes. It's a lovely custom, but the charm is that of another age. Back when we were middle-class poor, new clothes were rare, reserved for birthdays, the arrival of generous relatives and Diwali. Now, we're blessed to be better off and pick up clothes whenever we want so don't feel the need for a special occasion. Though I still am very careful to make my clothes last for years. Some things, you just don't forget.

10 years ago, our lives changed forever. So did Diwali. I don't know how or why, but the onus fell on me to do something in the festive season. I made sure the brass lamps were washed with tamarind a couple of days ahead. I learned to trim the wicks, placed them in diyas around the house and lit them along with the sibling. It's the only thing we do for Diwali. 5 days a year, we try to embrace the spirit of togetherness. It's also a way for us to signal the heavens. That the years may go by, furniture may be different, kitchen get remodeled multiple times and rooms get exchanged. But there will always be a light on in the window. For her.

Besides, who can argue with the loveliness that is the light of a simple lamp on a moonless Diwali night? It truly is symbolic. Darkness is always around. But all it takes is a little crack in our veneer of cynicism for the light to get in.

Here's wishing you a wonderful festival of lights.

Song for the moment: Idea Spiral - Cell (Ozora Festival Edit)

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