A child wakes up, to mosquito bites,
and Christ-on-a-bike it’s Diwali, the carnival of lights.
the welcome vibes of halcyon tarried
as hugs and gifts and smiles are carried,
and waving her wrinkles mid-air, daadi
says today! god, to his land was ferried.

Afar, the bronze herald of worship time,
the temple bell goes off in a celestial chime.
and cometh the priest, for the fire-ritual,
line my pockets now, come on, be spiritual.
but duh! your dhoti hast no pockets, saintly dummy;
tsk.. fret ye not, for it goes straight into my tummy.

mid-morning now, and mummy’s high-strung;
‘dust it well and dust it thorough and dust it till you burst a lung’.
“garam pakode!” goes papa in his croaking tenor,
“but one by one” and now he begins with the manners.
mummy is the last one, picking over the bones,
she always has been, for what a family she owns!

A muezzin somewhere cries the holy decree
heads bow down and a pigeon flies free,
from the onion dome, below the staccato claps
‘Ooparwala ! … ‘ the muezzin gasps,
and ‘Ooparwala!.. ‘ a crowd chants in tow,
and ‘Oops ! … ‘ the bird sheds it’s something and flaps
soars high, and takes a bow.

hey presto! the night has come.
the moonless night of the homecoming lord.
sweetmeats and sugars and syrups and us,
laddu-barfi, well, that strikes a chord.

Lakshmi, her owl, the glutton god with his mouse,
revered an’ pleased an’ fed an’flattered,
and coaxed never to leave the house
while out there, bombs and crackers burst and batter.

The witch’s hour already, and the man ain’t home yet
the lord is home, to get things straight,
while the men all out on a greedy conquest;
pennies on the dollar, unwavering faith still,
for the beckoning bait.

A child wakes up, to mosquito bites
gone now is the carnival of lights.
a child scrapes off the waxy remains,
the leftovers of candles, pains, and mosquito bites too.


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