Searching for the old-world charm this Deepawali

As a 90s kid, when I see the festive season’s online sales being the biggest talking point on Deepawali, I reminisce about the good old days. As readymade rangolis and LED decorative lights eclipse the carnival, I look for traces of the festival in the form I knew best.

Riding with dad on his old Chetak scooter, going out to buy new clothes for Deepawali, hoarding up crackers days before the festival and gorging on sweets without the slightest worry of what that would do to my body are the memories I want to cling on to.

How simple yet satiating were those days. A five-rupee Pista Kulfi was all I needed for the night to feel perfect and celebrate the return of God Ram back home, following the spectacle of Ravan in flames a few days before—the symbolic victory of good over evil. I had, in the words of Prem from Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, no complaints, no demands in that bubble of mine.

A glance at the calendar convinces me that someone has stolen 10-15 years of my life and the next thing I know is that Deepawali is upon me, again. For some reason, it prompts me to sit in a time machine and turn the clock back to my 10-year-old self.

How truly innocent that age was. I had no obligation to be politically correct or make sense every time. I could be losing my mind over the festivities and no one would judge me.

Now, do I even remember how to celebrate festivals anymore or what they stand for? It’s more of a party time every time I get an off-day and I won’t blame myself for that. Holidays, the only words that bring a smile to the faces of the ever-slogging employees, have become so few and far that whenever you get a day off, you tend to either retire to your room or go back to the same set routine of movies, food, Netflix, sleep, repeat.

The Deepawali of 2019 feels little like the one I once revelled in. The one when I started counting back to the festival right from Dussehra. The markets would be teeming with people and there was a palpable change in weather. Now, be it climate change or the side-effect of growing up, everyday feels the same. Months appear to be getting enmeshed into each other, with the sense of festivity completely eluding me.

Going to all decked-up malls and occidental pubs just doesn’t cut when pitted against the once-famed melas with oodles of swings, artifacts and savouries. The dishes of Michelin star eateries only give way to craving for that unhygienic roadside chaat. Movies take back to the melodramatic Ramleela.

The nostalgia-laden heart longs to be back in that era when a Hanuman sticker on my pencil box was the most prized possession I could have. Getting done with the homework just in time for the celebrations was a feat to be proud of. Now, even taking a quiet stroll or spending idle time seems more of a luxury.

Someone bring back those good old days! Bring back those paper swords and Ravan masks. Bring back the ecstasy of putting on new clothes and walking with that self-absorbed gait. Bring back the eternal flix—Ramleela. Bring back the roadside mungfali and its beleaguered lover, green chutney. Bring back the mela and its hustle. Bring back the kulfi and that elusive feeling of festivity. Bring back my innocence. Bring back my good old Deepawali.

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