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Friday, November 15, 2013

Kursela Days 19 – Diwali

Sometime in Oct or November 1988 I spent my first Diwali away from home, which was of course at Kursela! In the normal course of events, I would have gone down to Purnea and spent the day there with friends there, but it being Diwali, everyone I knew or was comfortable with had gone to their respective family homes and so I decided to spend the Diwali holiday at Kursela. I don’t remember how I spent the day, but by evening I felt very lonely and despondent. These were the days much before telecommunication lines had improved in India and as such I did not even have the luxury of calling home and speaking to family members.

Diwali, was a generally lukewarm affair in Kursela, with minimal lighting of homes or bursting of fire-crackers. I suppose this was more the effect of strained economic circumstances of most people there rather than need to enjoy oneself. Anyway, in the evening I took a desultory walk around the place, took a couple of photographs, wished the few people I met and returned to the room where I stayed. By late evening, say around 8 pm I was feeling quite depressed and decided to switch off all the lights and go to sleep. 

I would have hardly lied down for about 15 minutes when there was loud banging on my door. I got up to find my next door neighbor and good friend, a fairly well off Marwari trader standing outside. He immediately started admonishing me on my putting off all lights on Diwali evening and then dragged me to his home. There we sat and watched his children bursting crackers and other fireworks, before a lovely spread of food was brought by the women folk of the house. If there is something I can really swear on, is the quality of home cooked food at any Marwari family home. It was a lavish spread, both in quality and quantity and I really enjoyed myself before staggering back home by about 9.30 pm.

There I was in for another surprise. My Cash Officer was waiting for me. He had invited me to his house for dinner, but in the depressed mood that I had been I had unilaterally decided not to go to his place. Now here he was, having come personally to escort me to his house and I just did not have the heart or courage to say no. So I staggered on with him to his house. On the way, I came to know that some of my other colleagues from the bank were waiting for me to have dinner together and over the past hour or so, they had alternatively made a couple of trips to my house to locate me. I felt a little guilty and gave the excuse that I was on the way to visit them when I was diverted by the Marwari trader to his house. Anyway, I had to do justice to another full meal that evening and I did so and can assure my readers that diminishing marginal utility does not always exist outside Economics textbooks! It was quite late, nearly midnight, before the second party broke up and I reached home feeling like one of those characters in O Henry’s Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen!


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