Revathi was holding the landline and was almost begging. “Sridhar, you promised that you will positively come for Diwali. For past three years, you had not come to India at all. You know how much preparation I was……”
Her son Sridhar calling from the US cut her sentence, and said,” But Amma, why can’t you just understand my problems. You are just repeating your lines. My children want to go to African Safari on this vacation and I cannot say no to them you know. Ok Ma, take care. Will talk later” She still held the dead receiver and buckling down she sat and started crying, Her husband Ramesh, watching her with sympathy came to her and took the receiver from her hand and placed it back.
He said, “Revathi how many time I am telling you not to build these castles in the air! By begging do you think he is going to come running to you? He is a grown up adult. Let him do what he wants. You had lived four years without seeing him. Let it be one more year. That is all!”
He turned inside and called the housemaid. When she came he asked her to bring a glass of water. Then giving that water to her he said with kindness,” Revathi you are attending Vedanta classes is it not? Don’t wish for things you cannot get. Be happy with what you are destined for”
Revathi looked at the kind face of her husband. She understood that if she cries he will feel hurt. Why punish him for some one’s mistake. She gulped her tears and said in a fake cheerful voice, “Good you reminded me of the Vedanta class. Last time I had borrowed Sita’s book and I had to return it” She got up and flashing a forced smile walked away.
That evening she sat on the porch and thought about Sridhar. Her only son! Who once wanted her all the time, for his every action. All his exams, she had throughout the night to give him company. How much he cried when he had to go to the US! Then slowly his interval of calling home lengthened and then his annual visit started dwindling. Revathi knew well that she should control her emotions and give away this unwanted craving. But it is not so easy for a mother’s heart.
The whole world was celebrating Diwali and there were lights everywhere. Her maid came and asked, “Madam shall I put some Diyas on the porch?”She answered with indifference, “If you feel like, then light some”
As the maid lighted about a dozen Diyas, she got up from the porch and started walking on the driveway. A large garland of crackers was burst by the neighbouring bungalow people. She shut her ears. As the cracker noise died, she saw that some burning pieces had fallen inside their garden. She walked to them and squashed them with her slippers. As she was about to turn she saw two little slum girls of age around six and four picking up the unburnt crackers from the rubbish. She wanted to stop them from getting hurt by some smouldering crackers and she called the girls. They turned back and looked shocked. The elder one said, “ Auntie we are only picking up from the floor” The fear, the innocence of those children stirred something in her heart. She said, “You come here. Don’t worry. I am not going to scold you” The girls held each other’s hand tight as if for support and holding their torn dress with another hand came near the gate.
Revathi said, “You two go home and tell all your friends living in your slum to come to my house, tomorrow evening for a Diwali party. I will give a lot of crackers for you to burst.” The girls blinked unbelievingly and said,” Really Aunty? You will give us crackers?”
She said, “Yes. I will give a lot of crackers” The two ran back madly screaming something. Revathi came inside. As she was giving her cook instruction the maid came and informed that there were two ladies from the slum and they had come to see her. As she reached the porch, the two women said hesitantly,” Maaji our children are saying that you are going to give some party for our slum children tomorrow. Is that really true or our children are bluffing?”
Revathi smiled and said, “Your children are telling the truth. Tomorrow brings all the slum children at about 5 PM. We will have a party”. Both the ladies faces bloomed and they folded their hands and said, “Namaste Madam. We will get the kids tomorrow”
Ramesh was watching all this while reading his evening paper. Revathi suddenly seemed to have got a new lease of life. Ramesh owned a readymade garment factory. She telephoned the manager of the company and ordered him to get four cartons of new dresses for the children, from the age group of three to ten years. Then she called the driver and told him to get two big cartons of crackers as first thing in the morning. Ramesh now folded his paper and said,” Revathi I should also do some work for the celebration. How about ordering sweets and other dishes for the children?”
Both of them feverishly discussed the arrangements for the party. The next day the whole house was decorated. Office staff members were called to help the party. At 5 sharp, children wearing their best dresses came in bunches. Revathi called all of them in the garden and there was so much fun and noise as the children happily played in the lawn and swing.
The maid came and told the children, “Since today is a big Diwali day, all of you first light the Diya’s for Madam’s house. Then we will have the party.
With the help of staff members, children lighted hundreds of Diyas. They filled all the compound wall and entire porch, every inch of the house with glowing Diya.
The children were then given sweets and the gift of a new dress. Latter together they burst crackers for an hour and thanking Revathi went back home.
Revathi stood in the centre of her garden and looked at the hundreds of diyas which flickered in her house, diyas after three long years. Ramesh watched her happiness with a smile.
She turned to husband and said, “I finally discovered my life. Hereafter there will be always laughter and happiness in my house.
The slum children started coming every day in the evening and played to their heart content in Revathi garden. The grown up schooling girls from the slums, who attended morning school, came and sat in the car garage in the afternoon for studying. Revathi has vacated one of the garages for this purpose and had renovated the garage with lights and fans for the girls to study. Her life now became busy as she planned every day new things for the needy poor people.
Sridhar called one day and Ramesh picked up the phone. He said, “Anytime I call you say Amma is busy. Why Papa? What is doing all the time?”
Ramesh looked through the window at his wife Revathi playing with a toddler from the slum happily and said,” She had found a new job for herself. She will call you as and when she is free. Please take care Sridhar and call some other time“
With a smile on his lips, he closed the line without disturbing Revathi’s happiness.