A week ago, the festive feels had begun to sink in. The nearby market dazzled with golden lights, and food stalls were everywhere. It had begun to feel a lot like Diwali with the multiple reminders that went off in the boys’ hostel. Every. Single. Day.
Cut to only 2 more days
Till the festival of lights, and here I am, on this campus that’s now “light-er” as most have gone home to their own worlds.
I’m stuck here, thanks to that pesky waitlisted reservation. Sure, I’ll get a full refund from IRCTC, but I’ll be seeing my family only through the half-scale, small screen of my phone. I yearn to decorate my house with the richest of lights and the brightest of diyas, but alas, that may not be in the cards this year. Those freshly shaped “Laddoos” my grandma makes? Well, I’ll probably receive them via ‘snail-mail’ a week later. But hey, at least I’ll have some snacks to fuel my end-of-semester studies, right? But then, what about that gorgeous pink Rangoli design I saw on Pinterest? How will my mom set it down as perfectly as she does with me by her side? The truth is, they’ll all be happy, celebrating, and maybe not missing me as much as I wish they would.
However, there’s still some good news (for me)– fooled by ‘Ixigo’ and ‘MMT’ as I was, a handful of my friends are also staying back on campus. There are also others for whom the distances feel insurmountable, and the 75% attendance bar doesn’t quite support their festive ambitions. For now, our celebratory prospects seem bleak. It seems like my Diwali, our “Diwali 2k23”, will be a bit dim, with only the noise of those “Sutli bombs” from Darshan Vihar filling our hostel rooms.
But again, since I have time, and more time, to overthink as I’m not going anywhere, let me just look at it from a different lane too? After all, I’m in ‘Chandigarh’, and some of the only people who feel like home here aren’t visiting family either.
2 Hours Later
Update- After a bit of brainstorming, jamming to “Kabira” on Spotify, and a whole lot of nostalgic scrolling down my camera roll- my head has somehow reached the doors of optimism. Listen carefully, what if we choose to romanticize this Diwali outside of the usual ‘Social evenings’?
What if, we embrace the freedom we have and decide to have a whole darn Diwali week of our own? (High five)
We could hit up the markets in Sector 22, dress up in ethnic attire and have our very own mini photoshoot in the Rose or Japanese Gardens or even by Sukhna Lake! Or simply wander around in 3B2, catch the Era’s tour in Elante? What if we throw a spontaneous dance party when the hostel is nearly empty? How about a movie night on the 3rd-floor terrace, organizing our very own “Teen Patti”, and indulging in some good old-fashioned board games? Yes, please!
And though not a big fan otherwise, I’ll admit that Uttam’s has some amazing ‘Jalebis’ that would definitely complete the vibe, and the aesthetic.
So, now that I think of it this way, the idea of celebrating Diwali here doesn’t seem all that bad.
After all, this campus is my home away from home, and it’s high time I celebrated my first Diwali here. Our festival of lights might not have the same grandeur as the ones back in our hometowns, but it will have something even more special – the spirit of hostel-friendships and unending enthusiasm-stores. We have the chance to begin our very own traditions and that is to me, the best part of it all.
After everything, it’s not where you are that matters; it’s who you’re with, and the love that surrounds you, that truly makes this festival special.
Happy Diwali, my dear AILians, near and far!
-This article has been written by Anushka Verma (2nd Year).