Diwali this year was special.

My chachi/ aunt recently told me that she misses reading posts that used to be just about me – ordinary (ordinary? I’m far from ordinary. I’m heading towards ‘complete weirdo’), simple (pah!) me.

She said ‘I loved reading your short stories and posts about things you’re passionate about on your blog. Why don’t you write them anymore?’

And I have to admit. I haven’t written a blog post about my own thoughts, feelings and experiences for so long that I’m actually fearful of writing about something other than the books that I read.

Yikes. Okay, let’s give this a go.

Now, a lot of you know (especially those who have been following my blog from the beginning) that I wrote a post about Diwali last year. Essentially, this blog was a kaleidoscopic story about the varying focal points in my life in relation to Diwali, and how all those moments paved a way towards Diwali in the present (last year) and how it all made me feel.

The blog initiated with an introduction to the vibrant atmosphere at my aunt’s house where Diwali was always a joyous occasion. As a child, Diwali was accentuated by lights, fireworks, mouth-watering Indian food and lots of games in the comforting shelter of my aunt’s cramped house and amidst the racket of all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and, of course, brother and father. The blog then moved onto covering a period in my journey when life’s crumbling essence inevitably came to the fore. Diwali became a normal day – as normal as a day can be when everyone else’s relentless happiness felt like it was mocking your own despair. The blog ended on a despondent note where, even after attaining happiness once again, Diwali became just an ordinary day.

But a lot has changed this past year. So many experiences that have made me tumble, fall and nose-dive into the pit of emotional gloom. Life started to resemble a tidal wave, surging up and down, taking me here and there and throwing me into a constant turmoil. The only thing that remained steady throughout it all though was my family, and that – my friends – is what Diwali is all about.

Every experience in life teaches you a lot of things and this year the thing I learned was that celebrating Diwali with firecrackers, sweets and lights was the least of my worries.

It was never that I craved an experience consisting of so many facetious things that I could flaunt about to everyone. Rather, what I craved all those years was the emotional contentment that I used to receive when I was settled amongst my cousins, the gleam on their flustered faces as they lit candles and diyas, the tiny grin settled on my father’s crimson cheeks that didn’t reach his eyes (it never did) but was enough to show me that he was happy that day, that he didn’t feel alone, the smell of my aunt’s handmade gulab jamun that reminded me of a home that I’d always dreamt of having, and the feeling of being loved, and loving those around you on a jovial day such as Diwali.

Diwali was never about joining in with a vibrant celebration, it was always about spending it with my loved ones. My family. With people who felt like home.

This past year the importance of my family has been highlighted countless times to me. My aunts and uncles without whom life would resemble a house without a roof. My cousins who always shine like a lighthouse on the dark ocean that would otherwise be my life without them. My father and brothers; one resembling a candle and other two, beautiful diyas. Diwali, no matter where it is spent – on bare land with nothing but a few mouthfuls of food and a thin layer of cloth to keep us warm or in an expensive, insulated restaurant that keeps the bristling wind away – will always be special with them.

And this year, it was! We all visited my youngest aunt and uncle’s house; the most extravagant of them all.

And I have to tell you, it was a crazy night!

Typically, everyone dressed up; the ladies were decked in high-pointed heels to compliment their lavish Indian suits with matching expensive earrings and eye-makeup that would melt the heart of even a blind man, and the men, adorned in sleek, tight turbans – their rightful crown – and huge smiles on their bolstering faces.

There were fireworks, music, dancing, a barbeque, a pass-the-parcel game (I won an eye shadow!) and even gulab jamun with green tea as the cherry on the cake.

It was such a memorable night, such a festive evening that I couldn’t help but count my blessings for every single person in that room. You see, it’s not every day that you’re blessed with a family as loving, kind and hilarious as mine and I guess it’s my right to be proud of such a crazy bunch of people.

As the evening closed, my cousins and I sat together in a generous huddle. We shared some carefree banter and threw our heads back in laughter whenever someone said something really absurd or outright hilarious – which happened every few seconds – and I just soaked in the carefree atmosphere, feeling all of my anxieties being alleviated momentarily.

And as I observed each one of them and then, myself – a thin smile finally stretched across a plump face with a pointed chin – I realised how lucky I really was. These were my people. My 4am calls. My saviours. Those without whom life would feel bitter. And I was proud of them. Each and every one of them.

So, as you’ve all guessed – my Diwali was extremely special this year because I spent it with people whom I love more than anything in the whole world.

And you know what the best part is?

They love me too.

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