Diwali of imperfections

Diwali of imperfections

A grandmother in an advertisement who is, perhaps, on commission with a brand of emulsion, tells us that Goddess Lakshmi will not come to our homes if there are cracks in the walls! A friend on your WhatsApp group, who is known for her motivational ‘forwards’ sends you a picture of a dead bird, arousing guilt around the noisy firecrackers you have planned. An uncle warns you about the sad state of under-age workers in the fireworks-manufacturing units of Sivakasi. Yes, it is an imperfect world that we live in.

We are gift-wrapping pressure cookers that have been requested as gifts by our staff. A request that reminds us of the basic level at which the majority of humanity struggles to eke out a living. Our cook asks us if we can give her cash in lieu of the usual saree this Diwali – she’d rather buy clothes for her children with that cash. She has three, and has aborted another seven. Her husband does not ‘allow’ birth control. Yes, it is an imperfect world that we live in.

Our regular magazines are looking fatter these days. The stores are inserting flyers and adverts reminding us that happiness is right behind their marigold-strung festive doors. The shelves are creaking with the load of glittering gifts and signs of discounts stuck on them. The store-girl assisting you looks sick. She coughs into her palms and then squats to retrieve a ‘fresh piece’ of the sequins-studded candle-holder you have selected as a gift for the neighbour you hardly know. Yes, it is an imperfect world that we live in.
The pony-tailed TV anchor warns us that the sweets we are planning to indulge ourselves in may be contaminated. He shows you footage of horrifying methods that are being used to make those Diwali delights. You feel scared. You wonder if the sweet you are holding in your hand will deform you and you’d end up looking like him! Yes, it is an imperfect world that we live in.

My friend’s driver’s wife has committed suicide. She was not happy with his squandering ways. He would keep assuring her that he would change. He had also been exploring other avenues for increasing his income – like becoming a cab driver. That evening, he had promised that he would discuss his plans with her. But, maybe, her reserve of patience had been depleted. He had gone out to buy a Diwali saree for her when she hung herself from a beam with an old saree. Yes, it is an imperfect world that we live in.
A hoarding on the street exhorts you to go to Bali this Diwali. It’s a never-before deal! Another one tells you to stay right at home. But, to get a better home – with better neighbours, better tiles and more carpet area. A little girl in a golden-edged torn skirt is doing cartwheels below that hoarding. She spots you watching from your car window. She taps her dirty fingers on your glass. Her home is that lumpy mattress below the hoarding. Yes, it is an imperfect world that we live in.

We are reminded of it as we approach Diwali, our beloved festival of lights. Where does that leave us? Cynical? Care-a-damn? Helpless? Each one of us may have a different way of making sense of this imperfect world around us. Nevertheless, it helps to keep a positive consciousness around what we have. To be thankful and to celebrate that. And to share our joys with those who have lesser in this imperfect world. Happy Diwali!

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