A while ago, I sat alone at the ATM staircase along the block. It’s Diwali in India today, and I should be happy. I sat there drinking. Sipping my old monk with coke, between puffs of my light cigarette. Staring at the road, trying to make sense of things happening around me. It’s dark, the only light is the moonlight bouncing off the tall urban apartments. And the decorations along those apartments, soft, shimmering, digital lights that counter the natural light of the moon. I see a kid light up a cracker rocket in an empty plastic water bottle. Beauty is in the details, they say. My two wheeler bike is parked five feet away from where this ordeal is going on. I’m a little drunk, and so, paranoid. I imagine the rocket flying straight to my bike and my bike bursting into flames. THAT, would be a festive nightmare, won’t it? But to my relief, I see the rocket fly off in the evening night towards the sky, and I wonder if it ever makes it to the stratosphere before it vanishes into thin air, with a loud bang. Obsolete thoughts, I say to myself. I should be happy, I think again. The thought nags me. I take a big gulp of my drink. Almost dizzy now, I give out a dry smile. The kind of smile that’s not actually a smile but a silent cry for help. Do I need help, I wonder? The medications I’m on are help, my family is help, my routine is help. So what is it that is so wrong, that won’t let me feel a sense of fulfillment on this ever so auspicious day of light and prosperity.

My bottle is almost empty. It’s time to leave. It’s time to go back to life where contemplation is never rewarded. A life where monotony manages your sense of self, helps you cope, survive. It is a beautiful evening indeed, but my time has come, and a solitary night awaits me. I’m thankful, if not for anything, but this night. I wish I had this sense of gratitude every night, but then again, I don’t have a bottle of old monk to save me every night.

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