Diwali on borders

They were firing bullets outside my house, I was ten, dancing along with my five year old brother. I thought it was sound of crackers because it was Diwali. My father came running, hugged us, and ran into our house. He was breathing heavily. He slapped me for going outside, My grandmother cried for hours because her grandson was slapped on the most joyous festival. This is an incident narrated by one of my friends who lives in Nowshera border area of Jammu and Kashmir.
Diwali is festival of lights for everyone. When I text my oustside Jammu and Kashmir friends “Happy Diwali”, they often text back me something like “Padosiyo ke sath bomb fod ke Diwali mnana” or “Tu border per Bomb- Bomb khel”. Diwali lights fade, the sweets taste fades, the smiles fade when we reach a border area. People keep migrating to nearby schools and Governmental buildings when heavy shelling is there on the border. They are always in confusion where to light the diyas and candles in their houses or schools and buildings nearby. There was cross border firing two days ago at Samba border and some friends from border areas started sending me texts like “Hamari Diwali Aaj Se Hi Shuru Ho Gyi” “Tell Pakistanii Army to bombard us with environmental friendly bullets and bombs, Government of India is promoting with all its heart environment-friendly crackers”. “. These texts were funny, but the pain behind them was immense. People living near borders are now so much used to bombs and bullets. I met and talked to people who live in border areas to know how they are celebrating their Diwali this year. One of them humoursly said “If Pakistan Army will bombard bombs even on Diwali then it would become an Automatic Diwali, we will lock ourselves in our homes on this festival”.
One old women recalled an incident when She left her decorated Diwali house because of heavy firing. She said “I decorated my home, prepared special meal for the family, my daughter and husband were on terrace and then suddenly firing started. My husband grabbed a torch and we moved towards the city at night through the forest route”.
From 1947 people living in border areas are celebrating a gloomy Diwali. How long the Government and Army will take to make them feel safe in their own homes ? How long the Diwali will be less Diwali to them than rest of us? How long they will celebrate automatic Diwali? These are some questions which are not needed to be answered but solved. Wish you all a very Happy Diwali, a little more happy Diwali to all the shining eyes waiting for Diwali in their homes on Borders.
Renu Kotwal
on e-mail


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