Mum and I had first seen the Rangoli design on television. It was a Diwali special of one of those Ekta Kapoor shows still in its prime – the sort you don’t get embarrassed from admitting being a viewer of. Since neither of us had any experience whatsoever with those powder colours we had seen women deftly working with, we made another plan. Armed with water-proof poster paint and mighty paintbrushes, we made the courtyard our canvas. In a couple of hours, the floor was vibrant with a lovely rangoli. More permanent than the rest of the rather alarmed family had accounted for maybe.
That evening from several years ago, we placed the largest deep we had right at the centre of the rangoli. As the sky glimmered with fireworks and the winds grew resplendent with kaju-barfi, our rangoli shone peacefully into the winter night.
“How do I renovate it on my own?” Mum almost cried over the phone. “Don’t suggest ignoring it for I certainly will not.”
Mom and her pressure tactics. The dear was completely capable of err, renovating our rangoli with fresh poster paint, but wanted to leave no stone unturned to bring me home. This was when I was in Pune and they were selling flight tickets at the price of gold. I nibbled at a chocolate bar and switched on the fairy lights in my room, attempting to come to terms with the miserable quiet. I failed. The next day, Mum, Dad and I were away for a morning full of shopping at Lajpat Nagar – a yearly tradition – and stuffing our bags with lamps, cushion covers, dry fruits and umpteen festoons. As for the rangoli, we got her new clothes.
Last Diwali, we had quite a task keeping the cats away from our freshly painted masterpiece. I had tried to stop Mom from having a go with the paintbrush. “You really should rest, Mom. What about your backpain?” “What about it? It disappeared seeing you at the airport.” she said, generously dabbing a brush in green paint. We had later sat together for Lakshmi Pooja, and also ventured out to the Kali Pooja pandals in our essentially Bengali neighbourhood. Delhi shone like a new bride.
Mom put away the deep the next morning. “Next year, we will do up the rangoli afresh. I have thought of a terrific design.”
“Sure. I will get us some new colours too.”
“We will also book tickets well in advance. Or you will again go on about the monstrosities of price rise.” Mom mock sighed, throwing a cushion at me.
I didn’t need to book tickets this year. I am home and its Diwali next week. The city has started sparkling each evening and parcels of sweets and dry fruits are delivered every minute. Lajpat Nagar is probably jam-packed with shoppers. The lanes of yesteryears are brimming with memories of Diwali spent with Mom. I am sure that my enthusiastic best friend and fellow Rangoli artist is preparing her paint-box somewhere. We will stand at the balcony and nibble away at kaju-barfi. As lights come on across the city, we will consider with wonder the glorious world we have together. The world untouched by dust, time and pain.
*Written as a part of PepsiCo’s GharWaliDiwali