Ruhi had no time to even breathe that day. She had to organise so many things for the party at night. At times she pinched herself to check if everything happening around was real. Her parents had given their permission to host a Halloween party in the house!Eleven year old Ruhi had invited all her friends over for the night. They were about ten of them in all and of course she had to invite her little brother Kayu’s friends too. Kayu was all of seven and had asked only three of his friends to the party.
Ruhi, Kayu and their parents had moved to Mumbai barely six months ago. They considered themselves very lucky to have found this lovely house. It was a sprawling flat with a balcony opening to the sea on one side, huge french windows and pretty big sized bedrooms. Their friends believed that they were lucky to get this flat only because of one feature that may be, went against the house. On one side of the building, lay a cemetery, spread over a huge area. The window of a bedroom opened to it. The children chose that to be their room. The parents had no objection to it.
The Halloween party was organised on the terrace. The parents helped Ruhi in doing up the place.The paper bats, owls, spiders, turtles, pumpkins, brooms were hung all over the place. There were red, purple lights along with arrangements for some spooky music as well. Kayu was also an eager participant. Last night, he had asked Ruhi about the concept behind celebrating Halloween. She, with all her knowledge had told him that it was celebrating the spirits. She had said that it is believed that during this time, the spirits come closest to the living and so to celebrate their presence and also to ward away the evil spirits, people celebrate Halloween.
This information had had an electrifying effect on Kayu. He had lost his grandfather to old age, some six months back and he was yet to come to terms with it. Grandfather, his Dadu and he, were almost inseparable. Dadu was his friend, a constant companion and his most patient confidante. He often saw his Dadu in his dreams and would wake up crying and would long to have him back. It was the understanding Ruhi , who would gently hug him and calm him down. Now Kayu’s mind was on fire. “ The spirits came closest to the living on this day,” the words kept echoing into his ears.Would his Dadu come to meet him? He surely would… Didn’t he love Kayu as well?
The party began. The children trooped in, one by one, all dressed in various characters. Ruhi was dressed up as a witch and Kayu was a little monster. There were Dracula, Vampire, the three headed monster, the blood sucking witch, a deadly pirate and what not. The mood was upbeat. Everyone was enjoying. Only Kayu’s eyes were searching for someone. “ Where is Dadu? Why is he not coming yet? He will come to meet his Kayu for sure.” The cemetery lay in front of his eyes. He tried to look hard for his Dadu as if he was expected to rise from somewhere there. But alas! There was no sign of Dadu. The vast sky above with the cotton like clouds, formed various shapes. Was there a face of his Dadu?
The party got over. The children left for their homes. Ruhi was very happy for all her friends had had a super fun time. Both Ruhi and Kayu bid their parents good night and went off to their room. They were so tired that they just fell on the bed and were asleep. Suddenly Kayu woke up. Someone was calling out to him. “Kayu. Kayu.” Kayu was wide awake. It was his Dadu. He had come. Kayu ran out to the terrace. “Dadu, Dadu”…he ran to the railing. There he was. His Dadu…. a white shadowy figure with the same love filled eyes and a smile. Kayu was overjoyed and he fell into his Dadu’s arms.
He could hear voices. Some people talking about some high fever. He could feel soft hands on his head. Were they Dadu’s? “Dadu, Dadu” he muttered. “Kayu, Kayu, open your eyes” he heard Ruhi’s voice.
“Dadu has come Didi,” muttered Kayu.
“Yes Kayu, I know,” whispered Ruhi softly.
“You too met him didi?” asked little Kayu.
“Yes Kayu, I met him. He had come to meet all of us, specially you. He told me that how much he missed us but that he could see us all the time from there up in the sky,” said Ruhi.
Kayu opened his eyes and asked in wonder, “Where is he now didi? Why did he go away?”He had tears streaming from his eyes.
Ruhi lovingly held his hand and looked into his eyes and said, “ Kayu, Dadu had told us , how we become stars after we die. He too is a star now, all the time watching us . He was a bit upset though.”
“Why was Dadu upset didi?”quipped Kayu.
“Because he sees you still crying for him at times Kayu. He loves you so much, he never liked any of us, sad, right?He has always been happy and has taught us to be happy too na, Kayu?”answered Ruhi.
Kayu sat up. He hugged Ruhi tight for quite some time.
“Happy Diwali Dadu!” he shouted from the window up to the sky. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. He gave a lovely smile.
“Happy Diwali, Kayu,” he could hear his Dadu soft, though clear.