Yet another Deepavali goes by…

So many, many emotions running through as I scroll down my Facebook newsfeed looking at the Deepavali celebrations. Deepavali here is sans the noise of random, but frequent bursts of crackers, the colorful goodudeepas in front of every house, or the sweet smells of the various delicacies prepared for the pooja. There’s no toxic smoke of the crackers filling every corner of the house, or the burnt paper wrapping of the burst Sivakasi crackers. There is no random evening stroll to the market to ogle at the crackers lined up in front of every shop.

I don’t have to wake up early to go pluck the special flowers for the pooja. I don’t have to watch my appa go through the arduous process of preparing light torches from bamboo sticks, nor do I have to see amma painstakingly prepare the food for deity and light the deepas in every room. Nor do I have to go to every relative’s house to seek blessings or attend poojas in their houses. I don’t have to feel bloated after eating several helpings of the sumptuous food. There was something extra special in the kadubus amma would make and I don’t have to eat it.

I don’t have to experience the yearning to buy crackers a week before Deepavali and then keep it in the sun to make them extra fresh so that they would light up quickly. I don’t have to prepare to run like a cheetah if the rocket changed its direction midway. Nor do I have to wait for the last night of the festivities, when appa would burst the lengthiest cracker garland I have ever seen; it would burst for about ten minutes and in those moments, it felt like the whole world was lit up.

I don’t have to wait for the day of Deepavali to wear new clothes and celebrate the victory of good over evil. I don’t have to listen to the lengthy sahasranamas and shlokas from my parents. I don’t have to chant “holi kotro bali tagondro, Balidevru tamrajyakke taave bandru..…Holiye ba holiye ba holiye ba”. I don’t have to smell the paddy lined up outside the house, signifying the first harvest of the year. I just don’t have to feel anything.

And that is sad. This vacant feeling makes me want to take the next flight back home and give the longest hug ever to my parents. This emptiness is so new that I can’t begin to describe it — the first Deepavali that feels alien. In this alien space, I miss everything that I have come to take for granted — those little forgotten aspects of how I would celebrate the festival every year. And it becomes a overkill when you realize how much of emotions a phone call can contain on this very special day.

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