75/100. Kalipujo 2015. The festival of lights. When we are meant to celebrate the glory of Ma Kali with lights, family and friends. This year, because of some particular circumstances, I could not be with my family this evening. Though I am a woman who likes her solitude – guards it almost fiercely at times – somehow, in the days leading up to this day, I was, quite uncharacteristically, feeling that alien emotion – loneliness. I am ‘relentlessly optimistic’ but again, somehow, just about this time, worries about a lot of intangibles were getting the better of me.

I had not polished the brass or the silver, nor had I brought out my diyas or my urlis. A kind of lethargy, a malaise almost had taken over – where even lighting the lights seemed to me to be just going through the motions.

So, when a young friend called to say he was in town and would I be able to meet up on Kalipujo day, I felt not just excitement at meeting him after almost three years, but relief. In fact, it is no exaggeration when I say this plan to meet was like an energy boost for me. So, Kalipujo morning saw me cleaning and polishing. But, it was too late to get out the works, and so, I could only lay my hands on basic candles and diyas. But, once in the prettying up mode, it’s hard to be okay with everyday stuff, so I decided our meet-up plan would now include shopping for diyas as well.

We met, we hugged and we helloed. Rohan knows me of old, so he also knew I would not be able to relax till my tasks were done. So, to my go-to store for the loveliest ceramic diyas we went, but, it was shut. The diyas available at the other stores were way too blingy for me… I decided to be happy with pretty candles and so, dragged him to the ‘home’ section of a departmental store. Rohan very patiently helped me choose tiny perfumed tea lights and then very sweetly gifted them to me. Finally happy, we went off for our long overdue catch-up session.

As we talked, I realised how much this young man had matured. We had met in 2006 – Rohan had been my student, and very soon, my colleague and soon after, a dearly loved friend. When better opportunities took him away to Bombay, we stayed in touch but as often happens, everyday living got in the way of keeping in regular touch. But, the connection always remained. This evening, as I listened to him talk of work and home, I slowly felt myself easing up. I could almost feel my shoulders unknotting themselves. And it felt as if my worries were a lot lighter.

Was it just the therapeutic effect of a meaningful friendship? This time around, it was more specific than that. I realised that it was because with each perceptive, sensitive word he said, each joke he cracked, each story he told, I felt as if my son also stood a chance. Of being happy and healthy later on in life. I felt renewed confidence that broken homes don’t have to mean broken children. Because, Rohan had been raised by a single parent. And apart from meaning double of everything, being a single parent means double the guilt, double the worry. But, meeting Rohan helped me rekindle my faith. In the universe, my family and myself.

In keeping with my mood, the saree I had chosen to wear that day was a subdued, dusky mauveish rose and cream printed mul from Fabindia, a gift from my mom which had somehow lain in my cupboard for about three years, waiting to be worn. But, I had forgotten about the mukaish work that sparkled across the saree. The subtle glint and glitter of the mukaish only came to my attention once I said goodbye to my pensive mood. Much like life, actually…

Rohan gave ne the true gift of light this year – not only pretty lights, he lit up my faith again. Does he know it? I am guessing, not.

This saree story, then, is a celebration of the sparkle that is there in every weave, be it in our sarees or our stories. It is a celebration of the people who remind us that sparkle is not always just wishes and fairy dust but real. And of the people who show us the way back to our spark. 😊

And to all of you who are reading this, my belated Diwali wish is this – sparkle on! 🎆 🎆

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