Spirit of Diwali: Story by Ramendra Kumar
“Chandan, you lazy bones. Get up. Have you forgotten? Today is Diwali. You have to go with Babuji to the market and get all the stuff we need for the Puja and most important of all your precious firecrackers -” Chandan’s mother Sujata said yanking off the quilt.
At the mention of crackers Chandan jumped off the bed and hugged his mother. He had already made a long list – rockets, Laxmi bombs, Vishnu Bombs, Hydrogen bombs, ‘ladis‘ and those special ones which made the loudest noise – Knock-Out bombs. Of course he was sure to have a fight with his younger sister Anjali. She hated bombs. They scared her. She only liked sparklers, pencils, wires, Vishnu chakkars, flower pots – all that sissy stuff. And Babuji would always support her. Invariably they would end up with Anjali getting a better deal. Anyway Chandan was determined to put up a spirited fight for his case.
By the time they returned from the market it was two in the afternoon and Chandan was famished. Ma had made his favourite halwa and kheer. He gobbled up two helpings of each much to the delight of Ma.
In the evening, at around six, as they were about to sit for Laxmi Puja they got a message. Ratan Shah, the owner of the cloth store where Babuji worked had suffered a stroke.
“I’ll just go see him and come,” Babuji told Chandan’s mother.
“I’ll go with you. Let’s take Anjali along too. She will keep Sudha company. Poor child must be going through hell.”
Sudha was Ratan Shah’s youngest daughter. She and Anjali were classmates.
“Okay then, Chandan you stay here. We’ll try to come back as quickly as possible.”
Those were his Babuji’s last words. While returning from the hospital Babuji’s moped collided head on with a truck. All three were killed on the spot.