The Spirit Of Diwali
The Spirit Of Diwali5 mins 208 5 mins 208
Munna removed the small cloth purse from the attic. The cloth purse was his secret piggy bank. He removed all the coins out of the purse and started counting them.
When he finished, the count was twenty rupees. He checked the purse again, there was nothing in there.
Diwali was just around the corner, in two days, to be precise. He wanted to buy some sweets for his sister Lakshmi and oil to light the lamp.
Munna and Lakshmi stayed in a cramped 100 square feet house in one of the most popular slum areas of Mumbai.
Munna was 10, he had attended municipal school until last year, but had been forced to quit when his father met with an accident at the factory and was rendered disabled. There was a measly compensation of Rs. 25000 given by the factory management, much of which went into the treatment, they had been left largely helpless.
The month following the accident, his mother eloped, nobody saw it coming. Munna used to wonder whether she was actually so cold-hearted to leave two kids behind or there were different reasons.
His father was left heartbroken. The doctor had suggested physiotherapy might help but he was not interested, he had lost his will to bounce back, also another little reason was that there was no money.
Lakshmi was eight and attended school. Munna was not that fortunate. He had no option but to take up work to support his family, he had to pretend to be responsible or maybe he had actually become responsible by fate.
Luckily for him, there was a tea stall at the end of the gully where he lived. The owner of the tea stall, Musa Bhai was a generous man. He took Munna under his wing. Munna was hired to serve tea and bun pav to the customers.
Musa Bhai and his wife Rukhsana had been living in the vicinity for three decades. They were very well aware of Munna's plight and felt for him although they couldn't be of much help. They themselves were surviving modestly.
Musa Bhai had a tea stall as well as a provision store which was managed by Rukhsana. The fact that they were a childless couple pricked Rukhsana every day. She had urged Musa on many occasions to marry again, he wouldn't budge. For him, it was the Almighty's will which no one could dispute.
Munna received a measly pay of Rs.700 every month. At times, he would get tipped if it was his lucky day. Musa Bhai would give him two pieces of bun pav every day, one he would eat himself and the other, he would pass on to Lakshmi.
The neighborhood aunty had taught Lakshmi how to make dal rice, she had perfected the dish in the last one year. Their mother had left a small piece of jewelry, it would fetch Rs.5000 if sold. Their father was not willing to sell it.
They had managed to survive with whatever they had. At times, Munna would run errands for Rukhsana if he happened to be free. She would give him some food in return.
Rukhsana had been saving for a nice green silk sari she had spotted at the local shop. The cost of the sari was Rs.1000, she already had Rs.800 saved, the rest of the money would come in the next two days as per her calculation. It was Diwali time and people were flocking the store to buy provisions.
Munna was at the shop helping her arrange items, his eyes fell on the box of Son papdi lying on the shelf.
He quickly enquired about the price. Rukhsana mentioned Rs.250.
Munna's expression dulled. He then enquired the price of oil, he deduced that he would require 200 ml, Rukhsana was irked, still, she pretended to be calm. She said it would cost Rs.25.
Munna left for home once he was done with his work. Lakshmi wanted to know which sweet he would be getting on Diwali. Munna was heartbroken, how could he tell her that he won't be able to get sweets for Diwali.
The next day at work, Musa Bhai asked Munna about his Diwali plans. Munna pretended to smile. Musa Bhai asked him to leave early in case he had to go shopping. Munna nodded.
It was Diwali, as the day progressed, Munna's heart sank. Lakshmi wanted to know when they would light the lamp, she insisted on seeing the sweet box. Munna told her it's a surprise, she will get it in the evening once the lamp is lit.
It was evening. Lakshmi was growing impatient. Munna looked at his father lying on the bed, he had to tell Lakshmi there will be no lamp lit and no sweets to relish. Tears welled up in his eyes.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Munna went out and was surprised to see Musa Bhai and Rukhsana. Rukhsana smiled and told him sternly that although he didn't invite them to his home for Diwali, still they had come.
Munna quickly gathered himself and invited them in. He had nothing to offer them. Suddenly Musa Bhai stated that Munna had become very forgetful. He forgot to carry the Son papdi and oil that he had purchased last night from their store. Saying this, he handed over the packet to Lakshmi. She was overjoyed.
Rukhsana gave him another packet and asked him to open it. The packet contained a shirt for Munna and a frock for Lakshmi. Munna was overwhelmed, he bent down and touched Rukhsana's feet.
Musa Bhai hugged him. The lamp was lit. The sweet box was opened. Lakshmi quickly put on the new frock and was jumping with joy.
Rukhsana and Musa left. On the way, Rukhsana glanced upon the silk saree that she was supposed to buy. She suddenly realized how happy she was despite not being able to buy the saree. The spirit of Diwali had truly become a celebration of her inner light. They walked as crackers dazzled and lit up the sky.