Monday, October 20, 2014


  How could I forget that night? It was exactly ten days since my grandfather had passed away. I was close to 1400KM away from home at Bombay, unable to sleep; merely staring at the wall a little before midnight. There was a sense of melancholy and wishful dreaming over my head. My teammates were fast asleep, heads buried in makeshift pillows. It was January; the floor was as cold as ice but yet, vaguely comforting.

  Silence screeched as the wall suddenly lit up to life, reflecting the warm hues of an oriflamme presence somewhere. The sound of the crackling rose up to the second floor apartment where we lay as the fog lifted, disintegrating into nothingness in the face of the bonfire built out of all which held people back.

   Bhoghi, the harvest festival, had dawned. It was midnight as heavy drumming began to sound, awakening the sleeping souls to stare out into the dark; where below, there lay a mound of light and lilt. Smiles cast invitations even when we couldn't see. We ran, our flip-flops slapping the bare mosaic flooring. The sound of the dholaks and laughter intensified with every step of ours, the excitement building. I rolled out only stopping to a reckless halt before the fire. The flames, a feet away leaped about, taller than I was, a fourteen year old girl in disarray. A Sardar, otherwise camouflaged by his beard and black turban smiled through it, holding out sweetmeats to me.The flames blazed higher, smoke spiraling into the vast sky charring the past and ready for the future.

    Slowly, the other state gymnasts descended the stairs and gathered around smiling, laughing and chattering away. Girls who would otherwise be dressed like dolls before the floor exercise performances began to dance in baggy pajamas and disheveled hair holding hands. My hands slowly slipped into theirs, strangers I didn't know in a place I wasn't really acquainted with. All I knew then was that the sound synced with my heartbeat and that the dance came from within.

It didn't matter that midnight in a strange place that I was holding hands and dancing with strangers. It didn't matter how close I was to the fire that night because I didn't feel any heat, only the warmth. It didn't matter that night that my grandfather was dead. I learned to laugh out loud again after a ten-day hiatus. It didn't matter that I was celebrating the festival away from home because, that moment in the dark when all our eyes met lingering with joy, shining in untamed light, I felt at home.  

Source: GOOGLE IMAGES. I do not own this image.  


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