Thursday, October 30, 2008
A Diwali to Remember-2
We last had a child at home on Diwali in 2006, when the youngest son came home from boarding school for a few days. That Diwali was memorable for our stupidity- he came home with his return train ticket, which he promptly handed to me for safe-keeping. We both looked at it, and forgot about it. On the Sunday afternoon he was to leave, we reach the station around three in the afternoon, well in time for the four something Rajdhani, only to discover that on Sunday it has a different route and leaves at one in the afternoon. We recovered whatever cash we could, and then headed straight for the airport. The ticket was booked on the SRE's phone (no, he didn't get mad at us- he's very sweet when you're already dying of guilt and feeling like a complete moron, and not making any excuses whatsoever. Yes, with him you can plead guilty and get off free!) and a photo was required, which I happened to have in my purse. Luckily the son had his school ID card with him. We had to find a place to photocopy the SRE's credit card. The eldest daughter was phoned, and asked to receive him earlier than expected. And no, I did not tell my parents when we finally got home- I would never have heard the last of it if I had!
Before that, we had been in Gummidipoondi, with no kids able to visit us in 2004 and 2005. This year the youngest kid is resident in Kolkata, and so we all felt festive. We put flowers and alpanas (water colours, not our traditional geru and khadiya) in various places. These are largely things that I grew up doing, and have become part of Diwali in our house. The son would like to continue with them in his own adulthood (I do hope his wife likes the idea - she may have more interesting traditions of her own.)
Our son had invited a number of his hostel friends over for Diwali dinner. The only problem was that we didn't know how many were actually turning up- the possible range was from four to fourteen! I decided to make lots of rajmah- the excess freezes and keeps well. The maid made a lot of parathis, which aren't bad even if they aren't piping hot. I decided to make the rice and raita once the kids were actually here. We did our puja, an important part of which is the SRE's annual review. The kids tease him about this unmercifully, but miss it all the same, and have even insisted on the annual review over the phone.
A couple of little kids from the building wandered in and charmed us totally. A hitherto unknown neighbour came following his daughter, and we felt very festive. Our son was trying to direct his friends to our place- I finally took over the phone, instructed the cabbie, and got them on track. They'd been taken for a ride, alright, but one that was not too long.
The final headcount was seven youngsters, the SRE and I.
Chatting, eating, card games. Lots of noise, arguments, discussions of rules. Dinner is assembled and finally served. Two youngsters want to get back to the hostel, as they have the first period next morning. We drive down to the corner, but no cab is vacant. We come home and put down the spare mattresses so that everyone has a bed to sleep on.
The SRE had insisted on buying some crackers, though the son is no longer keen on them, especially noisy ones, as he sees how much dogs suffer because of the noise. All the budding lawyers were very conscious of the environment and there was so much noise and smoke all around that we didn't even light a ritual sparkler.
The kids carry on and we sleep. I wake up the ones who have to go to college, while the rest are still fast asleep. They wake up around lunchtime, have brunch, and are out for a movie. Two more join them for the movie, one goes home, and we are seven for dinner. We think about going out for a meal, but the kids are all so busy playing cards again, that we decide to have daal-chaawal and salad, everyone's comfort food. (The SRE does not approve of arhar/tur daal. I make alu matar for him, which no one else finds particularly interesting). After two meals with rajmah, daal chaawal is most satisfying. The kitchen is cleared, and the kids invite us to play with them, but it's been a long long day......
We go to sleep, and wake up to find that the kids have pulled an all-nighter, with strange pizza-like concoctions (with bread) being made in the middle of the night. Two decide to leave bright and early, and get some work done. Three sleep in.
It's been great. Like old times, with the older kids. The youngest one is enjoying his 'official' adulthood. They'd gone to see 'Fashion', which is an adult movie. He was asked to show proof of age, and proudly pulled out his driver's licence. The guy says, 'Your age is not mentioned here.'
The son says, 'You can only get a driver's licence if you are eighteen.'
My dear youngest child, may your brand new adulthood bring you the very best of Life. May all your Diwalis be happy. You made this one very special for us. Thank you.