Like everyone else in India, Sahitya, a middle aged woman, prepared her home for the festivities of Diwali (the Festival of Lights) and the puja of the goddess Lakshmi and the god Ganesh. Her husband, Yashwant, helped to set up the lamps, candles, and fairy lights outside. The house glistened with lights of every colour, while sweet aromas of foods and the sacred flame (jyoth) rose alongside the peaceful sounds of the chanting sacred mantras.
Sahitya was a woman of faith, deeply steeped in the beliefs held in her sacred texts, devoted to God. Her careful preparations for the hawan with the mahabhog showed her readiness for the sacred rituals.
Still, she wore a tinge of anxiety on her face because this year. She expected to celebrate the festival with all her family, with her son Chandra and daughter Myra, but there were concerns. They might not come.
Sahitya eagerly awaited their arrival, frequently peeking through the window. She knew they might not come but she hoped this year would be different.
After preparing for the festivities and waiting for the puja, she sat on the chair near the gate. She watched the whole neighbourhood celebrating the festival with their families, and when she looked up, she saw the skies were filled with colourful sparks. The atmosphere was filled with the sounds of bursting firecrackers. In the midst of the noise, Sahitya prayed silently for the arrival of her children.
The sky filled with colours and sparks, reminding her of former Diwali celebrations without her children; two years now. When Covid-19 attacked the world, the planet was filled with fear and the pandemic crisis kept them from her. Both her children were doctors.
A sudden burst of crackers pulled her out of trance and tears, unrealized, brimmed over.
As a devout woman, Sahitya knew that crying during religious festivities was a sign of inauspiciousness. She hastily wiped them away and set to distracting herself.
As she continued preparing for the festivities, she heard the door lock click and then the doorknob twisted. She saw her daughter, Myra, enter the house with a smile on her face. Chandra came in behind her.
Elated beyond words, she broadly smiled through falling tears of joy.
Hugs followed, with happy tears. Both children wiped tears from their mother’s face and made silly faces to make her smile.
The family gathered around the havan place for the Lakshmi Ganesh puja; they chanted holy mantras and ablated holy ghee into the divine fire of havan.
Sahitya’s face shone with joy and gratitude towards God. After such a long time her wish was fulfilled.
After puja, they ate mahabhog together, and gave offerings to the gods and completed other rituals.
After all rituals ended, Chandra called his Maa to convey to her that he is leaving for the hospital.
Sahitya frantically asked, “Son, you just came home after so long away! Why are you leaving again?”
Chandra said,”Maa, don’t you believe that everyone should have a Happy Diwali? We had one, and like you’ve taught me, I’ll try my best to help everyone have their own.”
Tears brimmed in Sahitya’s eyes as she watched Chandra leave. This time, the tears reflected her joy and love, not her yearning.
Diwali is one of the most celebrated festivals of India. Almost all people, irrespective of their origins, partake in the celebration. Each decorates their home with rows of clay lamps to symbolise the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness and to celebrate victory over defeat, light over darkness, awareness over ignorance. This is an occasion to celebrate life.
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Megha S. Gupta
Megha is a medicine student who has proclivity towards writing (inspired by her mother) currently living with her family in Kolkata, India. She is a new writer with some short stories published on some digital publications. She is fond of adventure, theatre, and dancing apart from writing.