And the intro to "When the Stars Go Blue" slowly hummed through my partly illuminated room, while my new bedside lamp conspired against my shadow. I smiled.
The dark walls covered just this one room, but I knew that my mind, from the past few days, had covered enough of the entire Delhi.
Delhi. Right now, that word is enough to send shivers down my back, fill my eyes up with overwhelming tears, and make me happy for eternity. It's Diwali.
My beautiful bride, Delhi is covered from head to toe in these sparkly lights that enhance her bridal beauty. The wisdom of her ragged experiences hound the worn-out roads that I walk on with my Converses. She lies silent in the old architectures of the Mughals. The cold air makes you want to reach out to that warm jacket, and then you catch the whiff of that off-handed aroma of home. The markets are set on fire- a fire of people slowly consuming every corner, every tiny shop with green tent cover.
Sweets, lights, blitz, love, friendship.
That uncanny knack of people walking on the roads beside you, to stop and touch your arms slightly with concern when you accidentally trip. Those fragile curtains covering the modest windows ,blow away, shy, in the cold November winds that surround your existence.
The crackers high up, that fill the sky with ribbons of colors that you wish you could capture in you eyes forever. The delight of children, as their parents gently introduce them to a phuljari. Their excited yelps, that laughter. The outline of Old buildings in the horizons- anthills of eternal love. Oh, the pleasure is sinful.
Now, I want you to close your eyes.
Take a deep breath. And fall in love..
Fall in love with this Old City that has been my home for the past 16 years. On the soil of which, I have spilt endless tears, On which I have lost my balance and fallen again and again, only to get back up- Only to fall down again, On which I have sat, plucked out the grass during the Physical Education Period. On which I have stomped when angry, jumped when exuberant. Come..fall in love with my exquisite bride.
Fall in love with this air that I have breathed since I came to life, the air that settled all around my body- carving my frame out to the world..the foggy air that followed my father's car as he drove through the highways in dead cold wintry nights...the breath that I blew out every winter morning while waiting for my school bus- seeing the fog form made me feel as if I was smoking. Smoking beauty.
I want you to fall in love, make love to the fragrance of my city...I want you to accept and love the sweat unconditionally. I want you to see, taste the tears of the poor. I want you to hear the pained screams of a mother in labor in a Government Hospital and still feel the love for this City. For my Bride.
It is so beautiful. Oh, I so wish you could love it's beauty as much as I do.
I want you to hear the impatience of a harried driver, I want you to accept the hardships of this inexorable hard-minded woman- that I've been in love with for the past 16 years. I want you to realize that there are BMW's and there are bullock carts in this City of Joy...there are little girls in parties, and little girls working. But they all love one. They all love my bride.
And today, as she glints in the eyes of every by-passer, her reflection extends beyond the rivers surrounding it. It reached out to its sisters, beyond the magical Arabian, beyond the never ending Indian Ocean, across the blue of Mediterranean and Atlantic, passing through the cold and hot of The Peruvian, doubling towards the Turquoise of Pacific, reaching deep to the shadowy Mariana, back up to the cold and white that surround the Arctics..
And she goes on...Hear, say I, to the world. Feel her pretty features.
The electric colors glisten in the moist leaves of a lone tree..My darling will be seen in the delighted eyes of a little child, the reflective eyes of an old man, the hard creases on the forehead of a laborer, and the smile of everyone of that 2 million who breathe her everyday.
You know why I love her so much?
She has people. People who accidentally knock at your door thinking you to be your neighbor and when you correct them, they smile apologetically, but they wouldn't leave without saying, "Happy Diwali and I'm truly sorry."
She has people who go to shop for the faithful servants that they've had for so long,
She has people- fathers- without a penny in their pocket but who would do anything to get the money just to buy a box of candles for their children to be happy with.
She has people who decorate their mansions, broken huts, their buildings, villas, shacks, slums with Diwali lights in the hope of peace and prosperity.
She dazzles, she blinds me. Her presence overwhelms me. I'm forever her lover.
Oh, Stranger, just fall in love with her once, and you'll never want anyone else. And that is, my word.
To Dilli, meri beautiful, jaan.