I spent the days by the stove. I roasted gram flour, measured sugar, melted unsalted butter, crushed cardamoms and shaped them into sweetmeats.
In the evenings I lit tealights and arranged them around the house –along the stairs, by the door, around the centre table, in front of the Ganesh idol.
I logged onto facebook and signed into my email account. I dialled in numbers on Skype. In the silence of my study I wished family and friends a very “Happy Diwali,” feeling every square mile of distance as the muffled sound of firecrackers filtered through.
Next year, I promised myself, I’ll go home.
I am up at 5:00 am, woken not by the alarm but by the Diwali crackers. The kids are already out, bathed and dressed in new clothes, burning through this year’s pile of firecrackers.
The house smells warm and festive – of mithai and filter coffee. The earthen lights, diyas, are in place all along the house, both inside and out. “Happy Diwali,” I say a bit too loudly. “Happy Diwali,” they answer back, amused.
Seasons’ greetings and New Year wishes collect in multiple cell phones. The annoying ringtones are drowned out by exploding crackers. By sundown the sky is multi-coloured and the smoke is as thick as a winter blanket. I don’t enjoy crackers, but I’d rather watch them exploding from the terrace than listen to them muffled over Skype.
It’s Diwali; I am glad to be home.
This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.