Today is one of those days when I have to take my four-year-old with me to work. There is no one at home to look after him. My mother-in-law has left for the village and my husband is in the brick factory.
I feed my child and I dress him up in the best possible clothes I can find for him. Then we walk out of the house together, with him holding onto my finger and me carrying a tiny tiffin with some food for him.
I am a house maid. I go to houses to do the dishes, to scrub the floor, to wash the clothes. And honestly, I don’t like my child going there with me.
You see, I can see the white, marble floors and the wooden cupboards and the AC and the television set and not lament on our poorer state of living. But my son walks into every room with me. He looks at everything in awe with his mouth gaping open.
Then he asks me, “Ma, let’s get one of those, shall we?”
To that, I always say, “Soon, son.”
Today, I am halfway through scrubbing the floors. Madam wants me to clean it thoroughly because it is Diwali. I look around and see my son peeping into one of the rooms. The room is decked up with fairy lights and it looks enchanting. He just stands there and watches the lights the entire time I do my work.
While we return, it is 7.30pm. I wait for him to ask me, “Ma, let’s get one of those, shall we?”
But no question comes.
The moment we turn into the lane our house is in, I see the reason. Our lane is decked up with fairy lights; different colours of fairy lights and it seems as if the stars have fallen down from the sky and on our lane. The reason behind those decorations? Diwali.
My son runs towards them and starts jumping to reach the lights, to touch them. He seems so happy that I can’t stop smiling.
He doesn’t want one of those lights that he sees from the houses I work at. I don’t have to promise him that we’ll get it soon. As it turns out, he already got what he wanted.
I get a diya from inside my house and light it in front of my house. And as I look at my son smiling and playing with the lights, I murmur to myself, “Happy Diwali.”