There is one question we ask people at work in August, every year: Is Diwali falling on Thursday-Friday or Monday-Tuesday? God cannot be unkind, it cannot fall on a Sunday. Priority task for those staying away from home: booking seats on IRCTC and eventually being able to get reservations in the 5th attempt, if you're lucky, and you're set for grand festivities!
Come October, and the only discussions over lunch at work are probably about how many days are left for Dusshera/Diwali. However, the preparations for the festival over weekends are like Physical Education classes in school. You always thought of them as 'free periods' while the PE instructor physically tortured you with exercises till you dropped dead in the heat.
When I woke up this morning and opened one eye to check the time, it was 6 a.m and also a Saturday. Saturday, as soon as that word popped up in my head, I automatically fell asleep. I was woken up 3 hours later by mother's shrill voice. I thought it must have been her daily attempt to please the Lord, but no. I could hear Utho beta, 9 baj gaye! It was only 9, on a weekend, and I was expected to be awake for God knows what! Mother's reasons sometimes fail me.
I didn't like the idea of waking up so early, but I eventually did. It is almost impossible to sleep with a shrill voice piercing through the walls of your delicate ears. The table was laid. A big glass of milk with Bournvita and a slice of chocolate cake that I had baked for myself last night. Whoa, this was a new development. Any way, I brushed my teeth and sat for this one-of-a-kind breakfast. My mother sat beside me checking out Kareena and Sara in the Daawat-e-Walima pictures in Delhi Times. "Amazing daughter Saif has, she looks too pleased that her mother's ex-husband, who left her, is now getting married to his latest girlfriend!" "They're all used it Mommy," I replied relishing the cake.
We finally got down to the main issue. "You're tall enough to reach the tiles on top in the kitchen, right?" asked my mother nonchalantly. Of course, I am. You are my mother and you know that already. The breakfast on the table made it impossible for me to tell her that. I nodded my head in agreement. With another sip of milk, I looked up at the fan. Dirty. It wasn't going to end with just the kitchen. As soon as breakfast got over, Mommy handed out a duster to me.
I was told to go out and dust the kitchen windows. Then wash them with detergent soaked dusters followed by a dry wipe. Ditto with the main door and the back door and the third entrance to the house. I was done with all of it in 1.5 hours. Dishevelled, I was making my way back through the front door when my attractive neighbour magically stepped out of his house. There I was in my ugly PJs and 2 chocolate brown dusters on my shoulder, gazing at this man. A short chat followed. Yes, getting the home ready for Diwali. How are you? Where have you been? ( Like seriously, where were you when I was wearing pretty clothes throughout the week?) He told me how he was the pilot of that plane that carried Kareena, Saif and the family from Mumbai to Delhi. (Highlight of the conversation. I've been very interested in that wedding, though asking him if he took autographs would be a stupid question. He didn't tell me that he did. It meant that no autographs were taken.)
I entered the kitchen and VOILA! There stood my mother with 2 more dusters and a ladder. It dawned upon me that a modular kitchen is not worth the money if it cannot clean itself. One corner to another, I watched dusters change colour with every wipe. I had started at 9. It was 1 when I got over with the cleaning. I saw my nails, they didn't look like my hands. I looked into the mirror and I could spot a cobweb on my head, dust on my face, grease on my shirt. Lovely! I looked like I was ready for a Halloween party.
I told mother that I wanted to rest. She didn't deny me that. So I lay on my bed and I soon dozed off. I woke up half an hour later and quickly took a bath. Lukewarm water. I could have slept in the bathroom. By the time I was out, it was 3 p.m and lunch felt like it was insufficient for the 4 stomachs that I seemed to have grown. I don't remember when I hit the bed and fell asleep again. A peaceful, dreamless sleep.
When I woke up, I felt like I could have slept for another few weeks until Diwali was finally here. How I wish I could do that. Sigh, I already have a list of everything that has to be done tomorrow. Sunday, there you go, down with the cobwebs, to the naali.