#Together : An Unlikely Diwali


Hostel life is simply overrated. There, I’ve said it aloud. At least in an Engineering college that goads you with assignments and submissions (I’m in Architecture) its really hard to goof around all the time (as people expect most hostelers do). College begins at AM and ends around 5PM by which time all one can think of is the comfort of the pillow and a bed underneath your back that’s been strained due to all the sitting and taking-down-notes. No, bunking is not in-thing-to-do as nowadays the Attendance Percentage has hiked up drastically from 60% to 85%. Thank you IIT for living up to your name and raising the bar for the rest of us (our colleges, at least) who all dream to be like the Banaras Hindu University and get the IIT tag. So basically, one is too tired to really have all the Hullabaloo Fun in Hostels except on weekends where we glue ourselves to our laptops to catch up on TV Series and latest movies that we collect over the week. 

Moreover you’re away from home…on birthdays, important days like your Younger siblings’ Graduation and such things that really matter. Every time I go back home during the Annual vacation my youngest cousin has grown a few inches taller and everything in the house seems different than the year before. 

Festivals are the last strand. While you hear crackers exploding everywhere, you’re siting in your room replying to Diwali Greetings on social media like that’s the thing to do. So, last Diwali, things decided to take a turn for me.

My parents decided to drop by and give me a surprise. I put it too plainly, yes? Well the actual surprise was when they turned up in a car with all these bags packed up. They never carry luggage because they travel back either the next day or that night, itself. Within a few minutes packing was underway and I was ready to zip off to wherever they had planned. We traveled a long way before I realized we were dipping Southwards. And Kannada gave way to Telegu which eventually turned into Tamil. And as Dusk began settling it, sea-breeze was upon us. The night lights of the East Coast Road zipped past us. Pondicherry. The fabled French Settlement where time takes a break.

I had always wanted to visit this place : for its architecture, its Cafes, Aurobindo Ashram, the promenades, the boulevards and basically , everything. Though I’d planned it for my birthday with my roommate where I thought we’d stay in the Ashram and cycle around the place and buy curios…Mum had extinguished our attempt because she felt it was too unsafe for two young adults…one who’d not stayed in Tamil Nadu for a while and one who hailed from another country altogether. So to make up for that, they planned this. My initial angst swept away as the city limits drew closer. We stayed at my Mum’s friends’ place. They met each other in a train while they were on their way to Cannonore if I’m not mistaken. We had a fine dinner and by dawn the next day I was itching to begin the journey! We started with the Ashram and its offshoots: Auroshikha, a Bookshop and the Matri Mandir. It was a two day plan so I couldn’t go all Architect on them just yet. I wanted to see Auroville…every nook and corner ad meet some architects, discuss sustainable features et all but my parents would just get bored tagging along with me and also, my sister who had left her tenth grade board exams preparation to join us. In a family, you have to make compromises even when your heart wants to do differently. 

We visited a lovely beach (despite my ardent protests : Aren’t we from Chennai? Haven’t we seen enough beaches in Andaman last Summer?) and had some fine-cuisine for dinner. I got to hoard a huge load of books that we got from this great sale right in front of a Basilica. I was under a spell…the canals (I can imagine how they were planned to look like), the ancient French Houses in pastel shades, the window shutters, the high walls and the traditional south Indian houses with open Verandas and courtyard spaces. It’s a delight. Absolute fantasy for any Architect hailing from whichever country.

By the end of our tour, so many lovely things had happened. On my request (which they finally paid heed to) we didn’t burst any crackers though part of my heart feels they relented only because of the pets the house had. Anyway, Diwali couldn’t have been spent in any better way. On our journey back, the bottle-rockets and the huge sparklers lit up the sky as I rolled down my window to let-in the sea-breeze. That’s one thing Bangalore can never give you, hard as you try.

My Mother had fallen asleep and so had my sister. Old songs played on the All India Radio. Despite all the evolution in Indian Radio my Father prefers their music and retro RJ’s and nothing can be done about it. Not that we mind. Its actually pretty classic. To this day, he leaves the radio ON to lull him to sleep as he used to do in College. I looked at them as slumber took over me. Tomorrow they’d drop me back to the hostel and the same rut of college-hostel-college wold being…and this routine will last for another two years. I’d come halfway in my University life but I had the other half to go through. It is these warm, selfless moments of love that our Family show to us…spontaneous plans to make your weekend special; making up for things they deprived you of; trying their best to make you happy despite their interests lying somewhere else; staying up all night driving you to and fro to the destination you want to see; leaving their schedules behind and sacrificing their only rest day to take you around because you live away from home.

It made me realise…that even though times can get really tough and I have to spend sleepless nights toiling for a project…its is these days where there is warmth and love…that I can push myself ahead. The thought that I can go back home where people love me unconditionally and will do anything to make my day; heal me; protect me; nurture me and make me achieve my dreams…helps me move on with my work despite slicing up my thumb while cutting boards while making models. Life living alone is not easy. Especially not when you weigh much more than he average person in your class or if you’re too talkative. People can be rough on you. There are times when I’ve cried myself to sleep thinking I’m not good enough for the world. Those are the times I’ve realized its Home where I’ll be healed. 

And that night, my Family brought my home, their love, to me. If I could I’d never part from them. But its the pride in my Dad’s voice when he announces that I study in a well-known engineering college on Government scholarship or when my Mother’s students ask her as to how I got through…or when my sister looks up to me…that help me stay in the course, strive harder and achieve. You need motivation all the time. And moments like these when you know there is someone there for you…to make you happy…that help you be the best you can.

#Together we are everything we want to be; we are liberated from our hardships as we share the burden. We love and therefore we are. A family.

Thank you peeps at https://housing.com for nudging me to write this one. You must have seen their ads on the Front pages of newspapers. Time you check them out…

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