Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deepavali - Andrum, Indrum

I was looking at the video, it was made when Chowmee was nearly 5 years old. I was so glad Chowmee appa had thought of making a video and had later thought of converting the cassette to a CD. I loved to watch it and it always brought back a rush of memories.

Chowmee was 10 years old. It was 4am in the morning. I could already hear the crackers outside, the hustle and bustle of people in the building. I was still trying to wake her up.

''Ezhunduru chowmee, mani 4 achu!''
"Po ma, enakku thookama varudhu''
''Pattasu vedika poga vendama ? Pakathathu Chitra, Sreeya ellarum ezhundhuta theriyuma??'', I knew that would wake her up and it did.

After she drank her boost, I made her sit down on a stool in front of the bathroom to oil her hair.
''Yennai vechu vidaren vaa, athula kachinadhu, mudi vasanaya irukkum'', as she sleepily sat down on the stool, I sang ''Gowri kalyana vaibogame, Seetha kalyana vaibogame''. I know chowmee liked it when I sang this song. I couldn't help adding ''innum konja varushathala, chowmee kalyana vaibogamenu paduven''.

''kannu eriyardhu ma'' she screamed, when I was applying shikai to her hair and I scolded her, ''kanna irukki mudikonu sonnenolyo?''

After I washed her hair, I let her bathe and I took the new blue and white skirt and blouse remembering how she had wanted the black skirt and how upset she had been after I told her, ''Pandigai nal anniku karuppu potuka koodadhu'' and how she had come back to normal after we had shopped for some matching blue and white hair clips and bangles.

''Amma, naan kulichuten, en dress tha''
''Mudhala thalaya thodachu vidaren, inga vaa'', after drying her hair and taking a few strands from each side to do a small plait it in the middle, I told her, ''Pudhu dress kungumam thadavi vechurukken paaru, swamy namaskaram pannitu edhuthuko''

She came back in a few minutes and said ''Amma, inga paaru'' proudly displaying her new dress. I said ''romba nanna irukku, pattasu vedikarche white colora thodaikara thuni madhri akidadhe''. As she gave me an annoyed look, I smiled and said ''seri, seri, thatha paatikum namaskaram pannu''.

As she was ready to leave to join her other friends, I exclaimed ''Legyam sapda marandhutiye, anga dappala vechurukken, edhuthuko'' and continued to wake the others. When I came back from the bedroom, chowmee was still happily licking the legyam. I immediately took it away from her and said ''Ada ramachandra, adhu bakshanam illadi''. As she licked away the remnants sticking to her mouth, I remembered how she loved the Deepavali Legyam.

The others joined her in a short while and after 1 hour, they all came back, satisfied and hungry. Chowmee called out ''amma pasikardhu, bakshanam tha''. She always took one sweet from each kind I had made on a plate and the mixture in a cup with a spoon. Chowmee appa always said ''ava mattum dhan methodicala sapadra''. She would take them with her and either sit at the window sill watching birds (there would many kinds of them flying around behind our house) or sit next to paati and ask her for a story.

Very soon, weary from having woken up early, she would nap on paati's lap and when I asked paati ''amma, unga kal valika poradhu, avala bedla paduka vechudaren'', paati would cut me off and say ''kozhanda paduthunda kal valikuma enna?"

When chowmee was 14, she came home from school one day and said ''Amma, ineme naan pattasu vedika maaten''. When I queried her about what had happened, she said that she heard stories about child labour in Sivakasi and that many students in the school had made a conscious decision not to burst any crackers and she was one of them.

When she was 18, she was staying in the college hostel and had not come home for Deepavali since she had an exam the very next day. She said it was one of the toughest subjects and so she wanted to spend her time studying instead of traveling. I had called her at the hostel to make sure she had received the packet of sweets I had sent and she happily said ''Amma inga ellar athulayum sweets anupchurka, enga room poora sweet dabbava irukku, padikama ellarum nanna saptu kadai pesindu irukkom !''

When she was 21, she was in Germany. When I called her, I was surprised she was going to a lecture. I asked ''Deepavali anniku koodava lecture irukku?'' and she responded with an irritation in her voice ''Enna ma, Germans Deepavali kondaduvala illa namma kondadaromnu leave viduvala??''. I was afraid to ask if she had purchased a new dress or if she had any sweets that day. I knew the answers already. And when she said ''inniku mattum naan Madrasla nammathula irundhu irundha evalo jollya irukkum illa?'', I suppressed my tears and told her that she could plan to come the next year and fervently hoped she would.

When she was 25, I was expecting her call. I still couldn't believe that my Chowmee was all grown up, was married and it was her thalai Deepavali today and she was living 1000s of miles away. She had already refused my offer of buying a pattu sari for her and a pant-shirt for Mapillai and sending it by post. When she called, she said ''Amma, inga Indian communityla oru party irukku. Adhuku innum konja nerathula naanga po porom'', I was happy that she was celebrating thalai Deepavali with her husband and that's what mattered.

When she was 26, she was in Chennai for the Grihapravesam of her house and I was overjoyed when she decided to stay for Deepavali. I knew she would stay at her in-laws' place but I also knew that I could visit her there. I celebrated Deepavali with my little girl after 10 years.

A sudden ringing jolted me out of my reverie and when I realised it was the phone, I answered it eagerly. Hearing ''Amma, chowmee pesaren'' always made me happy. She was calling from work to wish me and after giving her my Deepavali Asirvatham and speaking with her for a few minutes, I knew it was time for her to go back to work. After she hung up I realised that Deepavali simply wasn't the same anymore...maybe...maybe it will change when chowmee's little girl or boy is around....


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