First times are always special. For me there are few simple things I can never forget like, the first time I flew in an airplane, the first time I went on a stage, the first time I had a pizza, the first time I had feelings (you know!), the first time I went to a theatre, the first time I felt adrenaline rush doing extreme sports or the first time I experienced a festival. Deepavali 1998. It’s etched in my memories for some reason. #90sKids
It was the year 1998 and was a Deepavali’s eve. I was in the 4th grade of my school life. For some unknown reasons, I had been scared of crackers until then. I guess it must have been the experience of an explosion for a kid but am almost certain it must have been the element of surprise that held me. I was scared, Nah, terrified of crackers. I don’t remember a single edition of Deepavali before 1998. But the year 1998- Deepavali had been the transformation. I have no clue how it happened. But, I realize it now. When I slept and woke up the next day, I felt different.
For a person who enjoys sleeping, I remember waking up so early that day. I had the craving to burst some crackers and wake up everyone in my neighborhood. But, traditions come first indeed. My mom performed the nalangu. Seeyakapodi were consumed (mostly in my eyes) and the new dresses were worn. I was ready to unleash myself in the battle. I hadn’t heard a sound yet. I still had a chance. The chance of being the first in the neighborhood to burst a cracker on Deepavali. But of course, my paati always said every Deepavali starts with her leghiyam. I obliged politely. I was ready. But I waited for my cousin who lived downstairs. He completed the ritual and we were ready. It was around 4.30 am. I lighted up the kaliswari fireworks cockbrand 100 wala. I was the first! I was proud. Then we had fun, bursting a variety of sound polluted crackers, for a while. I was wondering, how I’d found the courage to play with fireworks.
That Deepavali was etched in my mind for several reasons. I guess my parents must have realized that their only son got over the fear of fireworks. So, they came up with a devious plan. It was around 10 am. Only 10 am. But it felt the day had been very long already. I had completed my first batch of crackers. I wasn’t allowed any further (middle-class family problems). My father told me, I should finish 2 chapters in Science and Maths to get the next batch of fireworks. I did in 30 minutes. Nothing like the survival instinct, I guess. I got the second batch. But there are 10 more batches of fireworks. I was desperate to burst everything. I had never experienced that feeling. In the next 3 hours, I skipped lunch and complete the annual portion of Science and Maths. The entire years’!! I got the next 7 batches of fireworks. Of course, the last 3 batches were reserved for karthigai deepam. But I had so much fun bursting crackers that were bound to be a lifetime memory. Even now. I am almost certain that studying plan was devised by mother, abided by my father. I will never know though. It doesn’t matter.
Deepavali has always been about bursting crackers, throwing bijilis in the air and flaunting with Lakshmi vedis and atom bombs. Then, of course, Gulab jamuns. My mom never made gulab jamuns for Deepavali that survived the festival. She had to make again and again every time as I consumed them like Poppins. I must check my sugar level. But it’s Deepavali. It’s time for Gulab Jamuns (*stuffs two in my mouth). There can never be a festival like Deepavali that’s close to my heart. Living a few thousand miles away, I miss my family and my cousins, the competition for kuppai in my colony, a trademark thalaivar Rajnikanth’s movie (preferably Baasha), my paati’s leghiyam, gulab jamuns and of course the, saravedis.
The first times are always special. I will always remember you, Kaliswari fireworks’ 100 wala. Happy Deepavali everyone!