Monday, November 07, 2005

Lakshmi's Diwali

It was yet another Diwali day. Lakshmi could not decide whether to wear a sari or a usual salwar. Tired after a hectic day at office the decision was obvious. But then her mind wandered away as usual...............

"You look like a goddess in the red sari."

< struggling to hide the sudden blush >
"Ok, what do you want Tarun?"

"Nothing Lakshmi. Just 2 of those delicious rotis you are making now and a little bit of your love."

"With cocky lines like that, you will never get a girl Tarun. I think I will have to help you out in that too"

"Yes. Please do help while I help myself to the rotis. Where's the ghee?"

"Ghee! Don’t you know ghee is not good for health. Already you look like a Turkey waiting for Thanksgiving. You are not getting anymore ghee!"

That was the last Diwali which she had spent in Bangalore. Her first Diwali away from home. And now the third one is fast approaching. Lakshmi was feeling helpless.

Sigh! Is there some way one can turn off memories? They catch you unawares at any point of time. No rules. No restrictions. And lately this has been getting a bit too out of hand. Her mind was no longer under her control. When was it under her control?

Trying her best not to think about the past, she chose her favourite lilac coloured salwar. This was the third time she was celebrating Diwali away from home. In college she always made sure that she was at home for Diwali. She didn’t want to lose the distinguished opportunity of wearing the pattu pavadai and lighting all the diyas. She loved wearing her pattu pavadai.....especially the peacock blue double coloured one which her aunt had bought for her from Chennai when she had become a big girl.

Lakshmi wandared away again.....

"Lakshmi kutty...would u please take them off and wear your usual clothes. Do you want to spoil it in the first day itself?"

"Please ma....just one day more..."

"Ok...but if you spoil this, I won't get you a new one."

"I know you will. You love me so much that you can't say no to me. I know ma"

Lakshmi was the only daughter of a very well off Tamil family settled in Kerala. You can call her a Kerala born Tamil Desi....but she would never agree to it. She loves Kera-land more than any other place she has ever been in. Working in a software company just like everyone else in Bangalore, she adjusted to the city faster than she herself had expected. Weekend shopping at Foodword, odd hours of work, pizza dinners in the office, putting up with strange people in the office, getting used to Kannadiga hooligans while walking back home at night, always congested hosur road, Radiocity and two lizards and a zillion cockroaches to give her company at her 1-bedroom apartment, evening coffee dates at Coffee day, having maggi for dinner for the umpteenth time, credit bills, water bill, electricity bill, mobile bill and a million other bills to be paid. Her life in Bangalore was full. She never thought much about her future. She lived life one day at a time. Until.................

"oh fo what a time for the kinetic to conk out. Why do you always give up on me my dear kinetic when I am always in a hurry?! Now how will I make it in time for the client presentation at 9? My boss is going to be mad at me and there goes the fat raise I was expecting this year."

If there was anything that Lakshmi was possessive about, it was her Kinetic. She never let anyone ride it without taking a thorough interview of that person. She would make a note in her mind if she ever saw someone handling their two-wheelers roughly. Already Krishnan and Bala were in the black list due to that. Krishnan was too strong on the accelerator while Bala had returned her kinetic as muddy as ever. And she had already given Tarun a warning about this.

"Uto na...its already 8:15, what are you doing sleeping on a lovely Monday morning"

"Oh fo! Is your kinetic misbehaving again Laks?"

"Yeah. Can you pick me up today please? I have to be in office by 9 or else it's going to affect both our QPLCs"

"Gimme 20 minutes. Will pick you up in front of the Ganesha temple"


It was just 3 more days for Diwali and Lakshmi could not go home due to some usual urgent work in office. She hated the software industry for slowly taking her family away from her. What fun is it to spend a Diwali all alone and not wear a Pattupavadai.............

"There you are. Late by 10 minutes"

"Darling, remember I am doing you a favour"

"I am not your darling and your favour will be returned mister"

"Hmmm you still owe me three rides to office, remember?"

"Yeah I remember. How about a homemade coffee and aloo paratha at my place today evening? Call it even?"

"Sounds yummy. Now hop in and take care of your chunni please"

"Of course, Security Srinivas!!!"

The lilac salwar needed ironing, twice. She didn't feel happy this Diwali. You may be surrounded by a thousand people and yet feel lonely. The Diwali celebrations at her friend's place had everything a person would want for a Diwali....puja, diyas all around, sweets to die for, small kids running around and making the occasion even more auspicious, crackers to end the night with.....the only thing missing was the people she truly cared for in this world. She had realised the value of family a little late. Isn’t is true that you don’t realise the value of something until it's taken away from you. She missed her dad the most today. Maybe because he never had much to say. But his actions always compensated for those words.

"Amma....where is appa...It's already 7 and he is still not home."

"Lakshmi...go finish your homework. Appa will be home soon. Did you do the exercise on Fractions"

"No. I won't do it till appa comes........oh there he is. I can hear his scooter"

< Running over to the gate >
"Appa please take me on a round on your scooter....please please"

"Okie but just one round"


What Lakshmi didn't see was that her father was really tired from his long day at the factory and was starving. What she saw was a dad who grumbled to give her a lift.

" time I want you to take me on three rounds. One round is not fun"

"Ok agreed. Here take these."

"Oooooh Ice-Cream Cone cake. Amma.....I don’t want dinner today"

Dinner at her friend's place was very sumptuous. Everyone complimented her on her lovely Lilac salwar. Lakshmi was walking around trying to call her parents to wish them on Diwali. The least she could do today. She really didn't want to call because she was scared that her mom may start crying.
Damn, the line is busy again. Maybe there are so many suckers like me who haven’t gone home for Diwali.

She thought of her mom lighting all the diyas alone, with tears in her eyes. Her dad out for his evening walk as usual. Her mom sitting alone in the puja room and reciting Devimahatmyam for the second time that day. Mom giving away all the sweets to the beggar kids on the next Saturday.

"Lakshmi, you hardly ate anything. Here take a little bit more of this payasam."

"Sorry Divya. I think I’ll go home now. Have a busy day tomorrow."

It was so easy to use work as an excuse to withdraw into your shell. Lakshmi was doing that very frequently these days. She was worried that she had slowly started to enjoy these painful thoughts. But then what was most difficult was to control her overflowing thoughts.


"Tarun, lets go for lunch"

"I have some work Lakshmi. I'll call you in 10 minutes"

"Office food is getting better day by day. And here at least no one can tell me how much ghee to eat"


"How was your presentation?"

"Oh as usual"

"How was your Diwali Laks? I had a great time. Spend the whole day at my Bhaiyya's place. Did I tell you that Didi is expecting? Oh and they asked about you"


"Hey what’s wrong with you? I haven’t seen you like this since ....I can't remember when? Where's my bubbly chubby Laks? What’s the matter?"

"oh nothing Tarun. Just some thoughts that I am not able to shake off from my mind"

"Why don’t you try me. I can be a great listener."

"I donno. I would rather not. Maybe you won't understand"

"Ok as you wish. But at least smile. You look just awful without your smile. And I don’t want to be seen with an awful looking girl. No other girl would come
for lunch with me. Smile for my future kids' sake please"

"Ok.....I really pity your honewali-biwi. Such a big flirt you are!"

"Ha! So you think....she will be the luckiest girl in this world."

"Enough of your bragging. Finish your lunch fast. I have a meeting at 2"

"Relax and take things easy Lakshmi. You know what your problem is? You need a good spanking. Looks like your parents never spanked you when you were a kid"

"Tarun, will you ever get serious. I am worried about where my life is going. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any control over it and I don’t like the way its going."

"Hmmm.....go on"

"This Diwali was the worst I had in my life and I am feeling bad that I may have made it the worst for my family too. What’s the point of being alive if you can't keep your dear ones happy."

"You are right Lakshmi. But then you took the decision yourself right?"

"Yes Tarun, that is what is scaring me. Sometimes I don’t have enough reasons for my decisions. I think I am losing control of myself. I think I am going mad"

"Well now, you ARE a mad girl. But not mad enough not to realise when you have taken a wrong decision. Do you know there are people in this world who would never have thought or cared about the things that you are thinking about now? Family is important. Much more important than the dollars you may have helped your company earn by working on Diwali. But then you should be happy that you realised it now. What if you had never thought about this? What if you ended up being just like Rajesh who sits in office all week and is happy only when he gets to go onsite. Try to learn from these things rather than getting pulled into a black hole. I think you need to go out more rather then being holed up in your apartment all the time. Go out somewhere today girl. It's a big world out there"

"Yes. Thanks Tarun. Does that mean you would come with me to the Forum to do a little shopping."

"Uh caught me at that. You know how I hate to go shopping with girls...even with a girl like you who I don’t consider as a girl. Okie will do it for your sanity's sake this time."

"Thanks Tarun. There is a little hope for you after all. Your wife won't be that sad!"

"Whatever missy. Now better not stop smiling today without my permission."

Lakshmi wasn’t a girl to fall into mood swings. Sure she used to get a little lonely living on her own, but then she had her books and thoughts for company. But nowadays even those were not able to satisfy her. She was slowly getting tired of life. She was relying more and more on Tarun for emotional strength. Tarun was just another colleague until that day during her training when Lakshmi realised there were guys who were not MCPs and who could be genuinely nice to a girl without expecting anything in return and Tarun was one of them. And now Tarun was her bestfriend and her mentor. She used him as a sounding board. All her thoughts that everyone else thought were very frivolous and brushed aside, he found them sensible and always had a reason to explain things to her. He was the first guy whom Lakshmi found she could talk to without getting bored. It was funny but Laskhmi used to get bored with people very soon. And due to this one reason, she was quite happy that Tarun was in the same company and that he was just a phone call away whenever she had a problem.

That day went well for Lakshmi. She was no longer moody. She was as usual joking around with Nikita and Neeta and making sure that her team was on track for the big delivery next week.


How different the word can be when used in two contexts. A man, a woman and God together can make a delivery happen right on time and sometimes even before time and produce the most perfect being in the world.
And here we have teams of 400-500 people and fat-overpaid managers working 24*7 not able to deliver a piece simple software code on time.
Life sure is strange.
Lakshmi couldn’t take the smile off her lips that evening.

Lakshmi had forgotten completely about her shopping plans in the evening, until she heard the familiar knock on her door.

"Come in Tarun"

"Hey girlie, you are not ready yet....go change fast and let's get this shopping thing done fast. They always say you should always do the toughest things first"

"Oh I forgot about that completely. You know what, I don’t feel like going out now. Why don’t we just sit and talk over a coffee?"

"Now lady, don’t get me angry. I can't change my mind now...Moreover there’s gonna be all these hot girls in Forum who I want to check out while you are busy shopping."

"Oh fo there you go again. Ok...I will be ready in a minute"

"By the way how’s your schedule for the next two days in office?"

"Oh the usual stuff. Some follow-up to be done and some documentation work. I am planning to do a little bit of it tonight. Have carried that in my laptop."

"Miss overworked, you will never learn."

"I am ready.........lets go"

"Take your laptop along....a friend of mine wanted to see the model. He was ga ga about it when I described it to him"

"Oh ok...but you will have to carry it. I don’t want anything to weigh down my evening today"

"Okay madam. I am a friend, software consultant, flirt, driver and now a porter all integrated seamlessly...just for you."

"Hey drive carefully.....I have lots of unfulfilled wishes left in my life....hey why did you stop here?"

"Oh my friend is in that bus. Come on"

"Oh your friend is going to Kerala?"

"Yeah. Come with me...I think he's sitting in the back row. This will take just a minute."

"Ok...So where is he?"

"Well looks like he isn’t here....hey why don’t you sit here....I’ll go and look for him. Oh there he is outside, I'll go get him while you sit here and start your comp to show to him"

"Oh well. Ok. But lets finish this fast."

"Hey Tarun what are you doing near the window...where's your friend? I am ready for my laptop demo"

"My dear friend. Start working on your documentation work. You are going home in this bus tonight."


"'s your ticket. You need a break girl. And more than that you need to be with your family. Go hug your parents and get back here in two days to face the cruel world and make me that coffee. I'll miss your coffee. But I think I can manage for two days...."

"But my boss would be mad...."

"It's all been taken care of lady. I've already talked to him and your leave is approved. Now don’t you worry about a thing."

"Thats great Tarun. I don’t know what to say............ You are an angel"

"Say goodnight idiot. Will see you in office on Thursday. And don’t forget to bring Kerala chips for me. Am outta good deed for the day is done."


A phone rings somewhere in Kerala. As usual the middle-aged lady runs towards the phone with her hopes high - especially since it is an STD call. Nowadays she finds it hard to sleep if she doesn’t get at an STD or an ISD call in a day. Life is strange. All the people she cares about are now just phone calls. STD and ISD calls.

Running towards the phone, she was praying for the call to be from Laskhmi or her brother rather than another wrong number.


"Amma.....I am coming home."

"Lakku.....really! Thats great. What do you want for breakfast and lunch tomorrow? I will ask dad to pick you up. Make sure you cover your ears before sleeping off. And you are sitting in a ladies seat right? Don’t get out to pee in the middle of the night...otherwise like it happened last time the bus may leave without you....and oh do you want dosa or puttu for breakfast? We'll go to Guruvayoor in the evening. You haven’t gone there in 2 months. Your granny will be so happy......Close the windows and......."

All Lakshmi could do was nod and smile and wipe off that one tear that had managed to fall off.


Anonymous said...

Kollao videon

jaguu said...


Hats Off Senorita!!Nice work.Now I know why u dont blog for weeks and then come up with master piece like this.Hope your Midterm went on well.Cheers!!

veekay said...

Nice post.

Anonymous said...

whats in a name ? Why this obsession for 'Lakshmi' :-)

(start of mild flirting) Anyway, the story was too cute n mushy n nice n a lot of things, jes like u (end of mild flirting)

On a serious note, the best part of the story is that the incidents in it are so common to most of us...almost everyone can relate which means, as i read each line, a faint smile creeps in my face and i am almost nodding my head and thinking of parallels.

Good job lady !

-> u-no-whu

ps: (chest swells with pride) 27 yrs and still not a single Diwali away from home...3 yrs back even travelled a total of 40 hours up and down to spend 14 hours at home :-)

Rajesh said...

It looks like a novel in the making. A suggestion is that you are very good at conversations, maybe a little less better at descriptions. You are excellent a humour. A conversational, humorous novel might just be your booker prize entry. Give it a thought

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Thanks Jaguu and Veekay! :)

Flattered Rajesh. I'll let you know when I write the book. Already decided on the title though. It's a little secret for now. :)

And Jupe....yups! I am a little obsessed with the name Lakshmi. Somehow feel that I entered this world with a tag that said Lakshmi, but the tag was lost before I reached my parents!!!

anyways glad you liked my rambling :)

and hey I am still waiting for u-no-very-well-what!!!

dinu said...

Nice Work !!!! Is there an autobiographical touch to it ? :-)

aknowkneemoose said...

simbly awesome post! :D

Lost in trance... said...

Your best post ever. Njoyed it :)

Anonymous said...

Finally, was able to read ur loooooooooong post..but it ws worth it....Good work....

Girl With Big Eyes said...

< Rising from the bow.... >

Thank you people :)

VKM said...

"Kerala born Tamil Desi"
"She loves Kera-land more than any other place she has ever been in"
"my dear kinetic"
"but then she had her books and thoughts for company"
"she was praying for the call to be from Laskhmi or her brother rather"

I rest my case!!

Aditya said...


Anonymous said...