Roosha lived in a nice house. She had nice parents and a loving grandma. She went to a good school, was talented and had friends. Roosha was lucky! Everyone except Roosha thought so.
Her nice house housed unhappiness, her school was her escape. Her friends wanted more from her and so did she, but she had no one to share her thoughts with. Her grandma was her well of love but she was old and Roosha always worried about her health. Roosha’s parents were nice people but they lived wrapped up in their personal space and sometimes even with them around Roosha felt lonely. She couldn’t entirely blame them. They had lost their only son to cancer, Roosha’s elder brother. Avi was 8 and Roosha was 5, when Avi died. It was 5 years now.
These 5 years, the house only saw grief. A tragedy, which left her parents financially crippled and emotionally washed. Mr. Dasgupta only worked and Mrs.Dasgupta only tended to go with routine, mundane chores. Empty eyes, grim faces, Roosha never remembered them to smile.
The school holidays were on and it was Diwali round the corner. Roosha felt trapped whenever the holidays were on, no one much visited them and they did not return invites. Apart from the daily trip to the local market and sometimes the temple, Roosha did not go out much. She read books, listened to songs and sat and heard stories from her grandma. There was never enough money to make a trip to a restaurant or have a holiday. Diwali was just another day in the Dasgupta household. Mrs. Dasgupta made some kheer (sweetened milk) and gave Roosha a new dress, which was the only exception. Nobody else wore anything new. But this year something else had happened. Roosha’s school friend Pari shifted to a house which was 2 houses from her and she urged her mother to invite Roosha over to celebrate Diwali with her. Mrs. Dasgupta had agreed when the phone call inviting Roosha had come, mostly she was glad to have her off her hands for some time. She knew how hard all this might seem to Roosha, but she could not seem to do anything. Her life seemed like one long wait. It won’t be much longer though, she hoped.
So Roosha skipped over gladly to celebrate Diwali at Pari’s House, she carried a box of sweets as a gift and wore her new dress. Her hair tied in bunches she looked like a fairy. Pari’s house was bursting with guests, lights, music and food. It was brimming with laughter, with happiness, it was palpable to Roosha. Her heart immediately lightened and she joined her friend in the celebration. After the prayers and the Bhajans, the children were treated to yummy food, while the grown-ups played dumb charades. Then it was time for some fireworks as Pari’s dad guided the children and everyone took part happily and safely.
Finally it was all over and Roosha had to return home, one by one the guests left but no one came for Roosha. Had her dad forgotten about her? Her eyes welled up with tears as Pari’s mom consoled her and agreed to drop her back home after the last guest had left. Roosha was certain now that her parents did not want her and obviously did not love her. Unusually her dad had gone to office on Diwali day. Recently they were always very preoccupied and saw her less and less. She felt frightened, nervous and very sad. She felt like going away somewhere and with these thoughts she left Pari’s house unnoticed. The street was lit up as it was Diwali night and she could hear voices from every house. Roosha felt isolated in her grief. With a heavy heart she turned towards the swimming pool in the neighborhood. Roosha loved the water. She went and sat down and wept her heart out, feeling utterly unloved. Minutes ticked by and suddenly she heard footsteps behind her, she turned around to find her mom and dad standing there.
‘Mummy, daddy!’ cried Roosha. Her parents just hugged her tight, they kept on crying. After a while Roosha heard how worried they were, when Pari’s mom discovered she was not in the house. They told her that they had not forgotten her they were late because they were arranging a surprise for her. Tears streamed down Roosha’s eyes as she listened to her mom explain.
With these words, all three of them hurried home. Home looked different. Home was all lit up with diyas and full of light and as Roosha entered her grandma beckoned her with open arms and beside her sat a little boy, with an unruly mop of hair and the biggest, soulful eyes one has ever seen. Roosha turned to her parents with a questioning glance, who were now smiling slowly, as they revealed that Roosha now had a baby brother. He was called Dipak, he was 3 years old and they had waited all this while before being able to legally bring him in as their son. They knew how lonely Roosha felt and they felt it was time to give Roosha her brother back. Her dad also explained that he had not gone to office, leaving her alone on Diwali, but had gone to get her brother home.
The light had finally reached her house as she saw joy in her parents’ eyes, she saw love in their midst and most importantly she realized that all this while, her parents were acutely aware of Roosha and her unhappiness. It was Diwali after all, a perfect night for Dipak, to unite them as a family. Dipak, the source of light, had finally reached the Dasgupta household.