This is the time of celebration and joy and everyone here is participating in it one way or the other.
For me, I do not celebrate it in another way but eat all the sweets that are around. If there are crackers lying around I don’t burst many of them, the rest I give away. I don’t buy new clothes either. Obviously, there is a story to this.
Way back, sometime in the 1980s (I think 1988); I was the only child in the family living in Chennai. For Diwali that year, my parents bought me a light green color frock and I wore it to visit my aunt’s house. We used to travel by scooter since I was still small enough to stand in the front and press the horn. I enjoyed doing that and have the wind blow on my face. And that is how we traveled the 16 some kilometers to my aunt’s house.
My paternal grandparents(Vi, and his wife), my aunt and uncle(my dad’s sister & her husband, whose house it was), my other aunt and uncle(my dad’s brother and his wife) and I were the crowd. My dad’s brother-in-law comes and gives me some sparklers and ground chakras to go burst. I went and told my father and he was ok with it. So I went ahead.
This house was on the ground floor of the apartment complex and there were two more floors above. There was a lot of space in the front and I set out to burst those crackers there. I remember holding a lit sparkler in my hand, setting alight a ground chakra and stepping back towards the steps that led into the house. The next thing I know my right hand is on fire and I am screaming for my life.
My mother rushed out and since I was screaming about my eyes and had my eyes closed, she rushed me to the bathroom and washed my face, held out her fingers and asked me to count them. Thankfully I already knew to count! My hand was still hurting me, and I looked down to see it was burnt from fingers to my elbow. The top side, like someone had poured something on it when you held you hand out. Then I saw my new green frock was full of holes, it looked like a very nice sieve. I don’t know for what I cried more – my hurting hand or my ruined new frock.
By then, everyone had gathered around me. I was taken to the bedroom, laid down on the bed and my hand and feet were investigated. My dad’s sister in law is a doctor. She did her MBBS and then left it at that. So, she comes out with a mug of water, dips her hand in it, and rubs it on my hand. Like she was applying lotion on it! I promptly passed out from the sheer pain that caused.
It was only later in school I learnt that one has to run the burn under cool water, and not rub the water into your burn with your hand! I make sure that I do not take her recommendations seriously, no matter what. I also don’t voluntarily share personal space with her. Honestly, I can’t even think of her as a doctor!
Anyway, the next I came to, I was wedged between my parents on the scooter, and taken to the hospital, 12 kilometers from there. So basically, I was in agony for a while. I had also lost my shoes, my new dress was ruined, so it was added to my sorrow. The pain was unbearable and I kept throwing out my hand so the wind could cool it. My mom had it wrapped in something so it didn’t help much.
The doctor treated my burns, without much more pain and I went home. I didn’t go to school for a couple of weeks. I summoned my maternal grandfather, Ra, who promptly arrived in 2 days time and kept me company. You have already read about RaVi, but then I was angry with Vi because he didn’t stop my aunt from hurting me.
I didn’t go to my aunt’s house for a long while after that. It was only later that I learned that a lady on the second floor had lit a flower pot in her hand and dropped it straight down. It landed on my hand and caused all the damage. My aunt went and had a full blown fight with her after I was taken to the hospital.
I was a responsible kid; I wore shoes (which gave up their life protecting my feet). I was under adult supervision, my parents were watching from the living room 2 feet away. It was the adult on the second floor who was irresponsible. And I bear the scars to this day!
The physical scar may not be as vivid as it was then, but I still remember the colours and smells to this day. I remember the sting and agony. It is still as fresh as ever in my mind.
While everyone has a splendid Diwali, please be sensitive to your surroundings and look around you before you go ahead and have fun. Be considerate and kind. Happy Diwali!