I still remember the day when mumma had asked me to switch off all the lights that hung on the walls of our house on Diwali.
I couldn’t bring myself to terms with the fact that Diwali, which was supposed to be the festival of lights, had turned so dark for all of us.
Mumma had called Papa, asking him to leave everything aside and immediately come home from work.
Me and my super-excited brother had just returned home after shopping firecrackers.
But moments after we entered the house, I sensed a strange sense of calm prevailing all over.
Too young to anticipate the gloom of the impending doom, I stood there restless.
And the next thing I know – a doctor was inside my bauji’s (grandfather’s) room, giving some bad news to my parents.
I heard him explain how “sorry” he felt for our loss.
“We lost him to cancer” – My grandfather was no more.
Too afraid to go inside his room, I peeped through the door and watched him lay on his bed – motionless.
And by the time my mother stepped outside to tell me that I needed to blow the diyas and switch off the lights that hung outside, I was already hiding behind the refrigerator.
With tears in her eyes and prayers on her lips, she pulled me out and hugged me hard.
Confirming the news of bauji’s demise, she told me what had to be done.
Unable to process all that, I ran towards the staircase, only to find myself in a frozen state moments after.
Too perplexed to move my foot forward, I stood there as a dumb spectator.
The bag full of firecrackers was right in front of my eyes. And all I could see was darkness.
It didn’t matter even if the whole sky was full of colorful lights.
The flame inside our guiding lamp had extinguished, never to be rekinled again.
And all those objects of sparkle had lost their relevance. All that glitter made no sense.
People outside my house were greeting each other, exchanging gifts, and screaming out of happiness.
And all I could hear was the chant of final prayers, accompanied by the wailing cries for help.
And in my heart, I knew – Diwali won’t be the same ever again.