The Diwali Nights

It was a couple of years ago when my buddy Armstrong called me and said they needed a guy with guitar and amplifier to play “Deusi”. I was super excited about it. On the occasion of Tihar, we were going to go around homes of our relatives and friends only, after pre-informing them. It was the first and last time I ever had the opportunity to enjoy the festival of lights by singing our hearts out.

Besides Armstrong, I didn’t know anyone. I got to Kalanki with an electric guitar and amplifier. The house where we were going to practice two days before the event was a tall brick house somewhere in the gallis. We headed straight to the roof where everyone were literally strangers. But I got to know them well enough. These were brilliant guys. I might have forgotten names of a few guys but I’ll remember Sanam the drummer who happens to be a big Pink Floyd fan and Prabesh the guitarist who happens to be a talented computer and science guy; also a poet I think. And there was Abinash with whom I had beer the first time we met though I wasn’t really into drinking on those days, but I really needed it.

When it comes to performing a song, I’ve always been a loner. I learned songs on my own and never presented them so all the songs that we were planned to perform were new to me. We were going to be performing Nepali songs and Hindi songs. That was the Bleh! point for me cause I’d never played a Hindi song and I’d rarely played Nepali songs. Learning to get along with the group and perform however was an opportunity for me to get to know the actual interests of people of my age who played music. For a few reasons, I was in good moods those days. One of them was cause a friend of mine had set me up with a very beautiful girl, with whom I’d been talking on the phone. Even her name was pretty. On one of those practice session days, I actually went to meet her for the first time at the rear end of Swoyambhu with the three huge Buddhas. The date was wonderful. The sad thing is it happened to be our one and only date, but it was worth it. I was able to open up with her and had a good conversation. I was just sitting there on a bench talking to her, telling her my stories and listening to hers. Oh wait, I’ve gone off topic.

So let me tell you of D-day. I had never explored Kalanki. We were now probably a band of ten people, carrying musical instruments, travelling to houses of teachers, uncles, aunts and friends, singing songs they would like. We didn’t prepare much of the Deusi song, but we were performing Nepali and Hindi song. Curse me for my bad memory, but I can’t recall any of the songs. I think, I think we performed “Taal Ko Pani”. That’s all I remember. Let me get into the moment now. Tihar is the festival of lights, and it did not disappoint. Everywhere we went, the houses were bright with decorative lights, oil lamps and with colourful mandalas. The skies were dark with glimmers of firecrackers once in a while. The nights weren’t silent like on a normal day. There were plenty of Deusi groups going around singing like us, but they were much traditional with madals and stuff. The smell of burning oil and smiles in everyone’s faces helped a lot in getting through the night. We moved from house to house, singing at the doorsteps, even dancing a little and exchanging hugs. We would all be hungry moving from place to place and eating sel/roti never felt better.

I wasn’t the singer of the group, but in one instance I sang “Wish You Were Here” all by myself but playing the electric guitar. I felt wonderful as people of the neighbourhood got to their balconies and watched me sing a Pink Floyd song. The guitar was off tune to be honest but the echo of my guitar and voice my voice for the very first time in front of spectators did not make me nervous, but I rather enjoyed it. The performance was horrible. Everyone was tired anyway, and I would have been lost if my friends left me all alone. Perhaps it was the last performance of the day and my best performance ever. There was so much appreciation. We got to eat some more sel/roti.

And for the first time ever, I had whiskey that night. My Home was far so I spent the rest of the night at Armstrong’s mamaghar. I met his mama and we had a quarter of whiskey with some fish I guess. I remember we were very hungry cause we hadn’t had dinner. I was very tired, but I couldn’t sleep right away. I was having so much fun. It was probably the first time that I had gotten so drunk that I actually fell on the floor face first when I couldn’t walk on the corridor. I think I walked to the bed all by myself, but I remember glimpses of me climbing the ladder to the water tank on the top of the building. It’s hard to remember what happened in which sequence after that. It was a moment of joy, the first time I was so drunk that I could hardly remember anything.

So that was it, one of those very first experience when I felt I had so much to offer. Rather than sitting down and watching TV or a movie, I had so much fun with strangers who are now decent friends. It’s good to know people who think alike. It’s hard to make friends that totally understand you and could survive under your skin, but every person you meet knows something you don’t know, and I learned a lesson called having fun. I wish for more days like those nights of Dipawali when I’ll be free falling, and having loads of fun. I know days like these will come. It doesn’t matter how conservative we were in the past and how much we restricted ourselves by staying sane and being rightfully not noisy to the community, but I’d like to see more of these days when I get along with friends and strangers to have a memory to share.

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