It’s Diwali eve and the entire world all around is alive!
The weather is just perfect, with just the right amount of chill in the air. Of course, Delhi is known for her exuberant enthusiasm while celebrating each and every big and small festival almost all year through. Like she always tries to find an excuse to party!
But Diwali is different. Delhi never looks more beautiful, more festive and more dynamic than at this time of the year. It is as if the entire city has been waiting to get dressed up in all her finery.
The spirit catches on. Despite the long queues at the parking lot, the billing counters in the gift stores, restaurants and not to mention the traffic crossings not many are complaining!
I love the little things that mark this time of the year. Like the joyous helpers at this petrol pump next door.
‘ Namaste, Ma’am. How many litres?’ , with folded hands this young boy greets me, red vermillion mark on his forehead saying ‘Diwali’ in big letters!
‘ Where are your dogs today?’
A short chit chat (wherein I explain why because of the loud crackers Gin, Bud n Shadow aren’t out on a drive) and a full tank later he once again smiles with folded hands, ‘Namaste’.
‘Thank you very much. Happy Diwali’, I say.
‘Thank you, Ma’am. Same to you.’ he says in perfect English, smiles widely and rushes off to attend to the long queue behind me.
Then, at the nearby super market.
‘Why haven’t you guys put up any lights? , I asked the manager. ‘Your boys are working so hard on a day everyone else is busy with festivities. You should cheer them up.’
On any other day it would have been none of my business. But this was Diwali season. And having worked on so many holidays as a young doctor ( Thank Dogness I am old enough now to leave the ground work to youngsters!!) I know exactly how it feels to be working while the entire world around you is busy with the festivities!
With all Diwali cheer, the manager perked up.
‘Sorry, Ma’am, he apologised for no reason at all, ‘we have been pretty busy and have hardly had the time to put up the lights.’
’ ‘Hey Boys!’, he called out loud, ‘Why don’t you guys put up some lights and flowers and stuff like Ma’am says?’
And then he continued, ‘Ma’am, when people like you come in, our store lights up anyway’.
‘ Oh! Thanks. That’s a sweet thing to say. Happy Diwali!’, I came out feeling elated.
The only thing, and by far the most significant, that stops me from fully enjoying this beautiful festival are the fire-crackers.
Diwali is not just a festival. It is an occasion to count your blessings, be grateful for your bounties, share and give of whatever you have in whatever big or small way you can, spread joy and good cheer.
What then of those poor street dogs that are in thousands on our streets? Those that so many of us feed and take care of but are now helplessly scared by the noise, the traffic, the exuberant activity all around.
Why, instead of burning noisily hundreds and thousands of rupees, can’t one feed them an extra special meal? If not feed them, why not feed any human less fortunate. If not this, then at least one could go buy oneself something more worthwhile than a noisy fire-cracker, light up one’s home and eat to one’s heart’s content.
Why, in the name of a beautiful festival, do we all decide we get the right to endanger the lives of thousands of poor dogs who anyway fight for survival each day?
At least, I feel there must be some designated place in each colony where you could collectively enjoy fireworks instead of lighting them in the middle of any street take takes your fancy.
Ginger is terrified of the crackers. These days, we have a hard time getting her to get down from the car for her walk in the park, especially in the evenings. Tonight was the most difficult, with the escalating noise.
(Note: Tomorrow evening we MUST make it to the park earlier, before the major din starts)
And even while at home, she imagines ‘under something’ or ‘someone’s lap’ are the safest places! For once today, I was glad to see she found comfort lying close to her brothers on the TV room divan. By her standards, that’s very brave.
Shadow and Buddy are relatively alright. They do get disturbed by the noise, remain tired but they aren’t as scared as Ginger is. The soft classical music that we keep on to cut out the outside noise seems to help.
Even as I dread tomorrow’s noise and dream up all sorts ways to keep Ginger, Buddy and Shadow comfortable, my heart weeps for those poor little pups who might run scared and lose their mother, those that might get burnt, those that might come under the wheels of a speeding car, all those who are definitely scared stiff by the racket all around and have nowhere to go and no one to comfort them.
Keep safe, somehow, please be safe…..