Chandrabhanu was the son of a marine officer staying in the apartments. Deepavali for him meant a great deal, the biggest and greatest festival. Ofcourse everything translated to the season of splurging, shopping clothes, food, parties, sweetmeats and loads of crackers.
Jayadeva or jappi stayed along with his granny at the thatched make-shift roofing shelter just behind the apartments. Granny was his only living relative. She was an old withered woman who wasn’t suitable for the labour work. She’d find some odd jobs of cleaning at functions and parties that helped them earn a living; Otherwise water was their regular bread and butter with a meal or two in few weeks.To use the term Poverty or Below Poverty will be to describe riches in comparison to Jappi’s life
Deepavali meant a great deal to Jappi too. It was celebration time.
Celebration is a relative term, contextual to be precise. For Chandrabhanu it meant exuberance and riches beyond measure. Mouth watering delicacies, exotic food and party at a pricey restaurant and high priced clothes to match the ambience. Not to forget, the best of the best crackers.
On the other hand, for Jappi, celebration meant expectation. Expectation, to put a temporary pause to ever lasting hunger. Expectation-not about the taste of food but about tasting the food, the leftovers. To feast on the leftovers and remnants(after the party), either handed to them by the rich or at times, even the food thrown out of the high windows of multi-storeyed mammoth apartments. The expectation- not to choose and buy classy clothes, but to wear clothes that are not torn from a hundred corners. They may be used or cheap quality new clothes, thanks to mercy of the likes of Chandrabhanu’s parents who donate on the eve of the festival. The expectation – not to burn the crackers but to watch them burst and then scavenge the paper pieces for the unburnt or failed crackers . To pick them and try to burn them when the rich are dozing off, to save his embarrassment of not being able to buy his own.
Jappi's is a true story from my childhood. There are hundreds of such children who taste food only during Festivals, millions who do not have clothes. This festival lets pledge to celebrate along with Jappi and his likes. Think twice (before splurging and wasting), that we can help them have a memorable festival by spending a little less on ourselves and share the resrt with them. This Deepavali, let us bring light and happiness to these poor people and be a part of their CELEBRATIONS. This Deepavali lets share some light to make lives.