Diwali, the festival of lights, is that time of the year that always gave me mixed feelings. Since my birth, I spent the initial years of my life in a small town in the suburbs with my grandparents. After that I moved to the big city with my parents. As I grew older, responsibilities increased and the frequency of visiting my ancestral home reduced. But Durga pujo was that time of the year when, come what may, I would always be with my grandparents. Durga pujo to Diwali had always been the best time of the year. Diwali always marked the end of festivities, getting back to my regular life, resuming studies and preparing for examinations. I never was a big fan of studying. I remember how excited we would be to buy crackers and how eagerly we would set them out in the sun. There was always a competition as to who had more crackers. The entire family and friends would gather on the terrace as the sun went down, and we would begin our festival of lights. Fairy lights brightening up the entire house, even if only for a day, always had a great impact on my mood.

The intense desire to light up the crackers waned as the years passed. These days I am more content watching people burst crackers from afar. I prefer lighting oil lamps, diyas, around the house.

My first Diwali away from home, I spent with friends who are more than family in an unknown city. We lit diyas and then went up on the terrace. It was beautiful and mesmerizing. The sky was full of stars with fireworks lighting it up every now and then. With my loved one by my side, it was the best Diwali ever.