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Obama lit a candle and so did I.

The blasts start around Tuesday. They sound like gunshots. They scare me. They terrify the animals. My cats cower under the bed. The parrots flock and flap and screech in the sky. For the next five days the firecrackers will burst around every corner. Smoke will slowly settle over the city. Ripped shreds of cardboard will pile into corners.

My office has giant sand drawings of peacocks and flowers decorating the floor. Carnations fill the hallways.

Friends drop by my house, bringing candy, cakes, candleholders, oil. Christmas lights—called fariy lights here—twinkle on the houses.

I go to my friend’s apartment. She feeds me fruitcake and chai tea. Her mother and her sister and I all pile on a bed to gossip. We make our own sand design on the front stoop. We outline the pattern first with her mother’s silver eyeliner. Then we get yellow and blue stains on our fingers from the powder.

It looks like this:


We light diyas filled with mustard oil. We set candles around all the edges of her house.

It looks like this:


The sky is alight with green and red and white explosions.

My friend’s mother pulls open a closet and digs through piles and piles of blue and orange and black glittered saris. I spot a purple one, edged in rhinestones. I want it. I say nothing. She pulls out a blue one.  She holds it up to me. I say I like it. She can’t understand my accent. I speak too fast. She tilts her beautiful face to one side, trying to decipher my rambling words. She never asks me to repeat myself. She just smiles and keeps pulling out saris. She grabs the purple one. “This one, you must wear this one.” I grin.

She swathes me in the shimmery cloth. She twists and turns me, folds and tucks. And I feel beautiful. I feel like she’s lit me up, decorated me for Diwali. I thank her. She says, “You must keep it. It is my gift to you.” I thank her again. “No, no, you do not thank me. It is my happiness only.”

I want to tuck her in my pocket. But saris don’t have pockets.

She is my happiness only. The sari is my happiness only. The lights are my happiness only. The night is my happiness only.

(P.S. I stole the photos from award-winning Remi.)


  1. Loony says:


  2. Anne says:

    Very beautiful. One question, how many cats do you have?!

  3. Melissa says:

    Technically, they’re street rats, and there are two of them. But cats sounded prettier.