…is like Diwali without celebrations.

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My mother would get all excited about any festival. Didn’t really need a reason to celebrate – in fact, she celebrated Vidur’s nakshatram every month. She would build it up for at least 3-4 days, encouraging him to make a wish list, and planning to give him what he wanted – and we would wake up singing Happy nakshatram to you…he’d come bounding out of bed to see what awaited him. Could be a pencil, or a drawing book – he’d still be happy. It was the atmosphere that mattered most, along with the cuddling.

Diwali was a major affair. Mom would plan for days before, over what to make. She always wanted to try some new recipe. When both of us worked, before I got married, we would discuss it, make lists, and then, the day before Diwali, after dinner, we would start preparing stuff. Hours and hours frying and roasting and kneading – and by 2 am or so, we’d be tired but happy, at our output. Mixture  was a must, and when my grandma was alive, rava laddus were a staple. Loved the kai murukus, burfis and special kaju sweet. Gulab Jamuns were also a standard sweet on the list. Then last minute additions would be Thenkuzhal (with protests of why thenkuzhal when Mixture was being made). The answer would be – thenkuzhal for the family, and mixture more oriented to distribution. Gosh, the assortment of sweets that would come in!

Diwali Marundu (herbal medicine) was another exciting thing. Mom specialized it making it just so! Perfection. I have saved some for this year, from last year. It never gets spoilt. It only gets over. We reach for a small spoon of Diwali marundu for every (imagined) stomach ailment. So much more than was necessary was made and stored. Diwali oil was special too, with nallannai (gingelly oil), raw rice, pepper and vethlai (beetel leaves) fried in it. I’d love to eat all those.

Years ago – through childhood and the teen years – the household would begin to wake up at 3.30 am (God knew why!) and one by one, each of us would have “ennai vechu”fied on our heads. My grandma did that when she was alive….and then my mom took over.  We’d be busy boiling water for baths – until the almighty geyser arrived, much later. We’d wear new clothes at 5 am and run off to enjoy the firecrackers which was “shaastram”(traditional)

When Mom and I moved to Hyderabad back in 1987, we decided to “break” the rules and wake up at 7 am on Diwali. Sacrilege, indeed. We decided NOT to burst crackers. Ok – we lived on a very tight budget and I absolutely refused to squander money on pattaasu. So we stopped at a couple of boxes of Maththaapus/sparklers.  New clothes didn’t come in the “squander” category, of course, what with me being a clothes freak. My uncles spoiled me by always buying 3-4 sets of clothes for any occasion. What if they weren’t expensive – I had lots of variety – lovingly.

Before Diwali, Mom would insist that we went out and bought something just before the day – even if we all had new clothes bought at another time to wear. We miss her so much this year – we think of her every day – in everything we do. It breaks my heart whenever Vidur says “paati irunda evlo nanna irukkum” (if only paati was there, how nice it would be) – because this is one thing I cannot give him back. I would, if only I could

I miss repeating film dialogs – all adapted to ourselves – and the laughter.
I miss the wonderful and whacky humor – that we built on once we got started, with Vidur contributing his special lines
Sometimes I wonder who missed Mom most? Vidur? Me? Sury?

This Diwali without her is not Diwali at all. I can’t even think straight!

 
 

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