The Blurry Face on a gleaming Diwali Night – A Short Story by Aparna Mukherjee

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The noise of crackers made me get up from my bed. With my half-closed eyes, I saw the alarm clock which showed 6:30 am. I grabbed a pillow close to me and drifted off to sleep. The bursting crackers did not let me sleep. I had no option but to sacrifice my sleep. I jumped off from bed in excitement on realizing that this was the day for which I have been waiting for so many months. The day was Diwali when people were busy celebrating the grand fest. Diwali has always been my favorite festival right from my childhood. The festive mood can be sensed all around. I could see smiles and joys everywhere. The day of Diwali was going well with my neighbors and friends.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the gleaming of earthen lamps glittered the earth. The colorful rangolis were enhancing the floors. I started decorating my house
with flower rangolis. The entrance door of my house was decked up in fresh flower garlands. Every corner of my home was gleaming with the rows of clay lamps. From children to adults, everyone was letting off fireworks. With the onset of November month, the cold waves filled the atmosphere; giving pleasant shivers to everyone. The cold breeze was touching my skin, pushing me to step out of my place.

 

 

But, I chose to stay indoors and enjoy the glimpses of cheerful faces who were enjoying in feasting on sweets and letting off crackers. I wrapped a shawl around me and sat on a cushy couch right next to the window of my room. The happy faces outside and the sparkling lights of clay lamps were filling my heart with pleasures and joys. The darkness in the sky and the glistening lights of beautifully designed earthen lamps made the environment tranquil and enjoyable. I was enjoying the outdoor scene from my home when all of a sudden my eyes caught something.

Outside the main gate of our building, I saw a blurry face amidst the cloud of smoke coming out of fireworks. When every person’s face was shining with smiles, there was a glum face that lost the smiles. A sense of curiosity rose in me and I decided to step out of my home to have a view of the blurry face. Wrapping around the shawl around me, as I approached close to the gate, I saw an innocent face of a little kid whose eyes were filled with tears. His teardrops which were rolling down from his cheeks appeared as diamonds in the shimmering lights of clay lamps which were set in the rows of the main gate.

When all the kids were wearing new clothes, he had worn shabby clothes and was standing outside the gate. When I asked him about his parents, he replied to me that his father does not stay with him and his mother is working as a maid. His mother assured him to bring for him crackers, new clothes, and sweets. But, she did not return home which made the boy step out of his home, looking for his mother. The fireworks and Diwali decorations outside our building made the poor kid stop near our building. He too wanted to play with other kids, he too wished to let off crackers and he too desired to wear new clothes. But, there was no one apart from his mother to give him Diwali gifts. He was looking at other kids with utmost desire. I could see his sorrows from his face. His eyes welled with tears, but he did not cry because he did not want to show his sorrows to other kids. I told our watchman that if a lady comes looking for her child, he should bring that lady to my place. I held the kid’s hand and brought him at my place. He hesitated at first. When I told him your mother is busy with her work and that is why she told me to give your gifts. Hearing this, his face glittered with smiles.

The broad smile on his face made my day. I made him sit on my favorite cushy couch. At first, he declined. Then, I lifted him in his arms and made him sit properly. I asked his name to which he replied, Shaunak. I offered him some plates filled with Diwali snacks. I expected him to grab a plate and gobble those crispy snacks. To my surprise, he started staring at me for a while. He just nodded his head, indicating that he does not want to have the whole of food in the plates. He took a handful of snacks and started eating them. While he was eating, I offered him many boxes of crackers to which he was elated. He grabbed happily those boxes and got up from the couch to go to his place. I understood more than the snacks, he was pining for crackers and clothes. I told him to visit my home the next day. He nodded his head again and left with a smiling face.

Next morning, someone rang the doorbell of my home. As I opened the door, I was surprised to see Shaunak and his mother. I welcomed them inside my place. His mother folded her hands to thank me for yesterday. I was glad to see although they were poor, they have a sense of gratitude. I placed some new clothes in Shaunak’s hands and wished him “Happy Children’s Day”. He hugged me and planted a kiss on my cheek. He asked me what is Children’s Day? I replied, “today is your day.” I explained to him later why Children’s Day is celebrated. He listened intently. His mother was about to thank me again, but this time I held her hand and thanked her for bringing Shaunak to my house. The smile on the little boy’s face was expensive than any other things in this world.

Diwali and Children’s Day turned out to be very special occasions to me. We spend countless bucks on materialistic things to make us or our others happy. But, the joys of spending money on needy people give the utmost pleasure in life. I was elated to convert tears into smiles of one child which made me wealthy from within.

The story first appeared in the Storizen Magazine November 2018 Issue.

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