I was posted in Kargil as a junior engineer in JKPDC. I happened to be celebrating that Diwali in 95% Muslim area and the rest of them Buddhist. As there has been always a tension between Hindus and Muslims, so in Kargil, Diwali is just like any other day, except in army camps. But, I was not living in an army camp so I expected no one will celebrate Diwali here. But at the dawn when sun said goodbye and I went out for dinner, I saw a house decorated with candles, lit along the fence over the wall and children were playing with crackers. A kind of shiver ran through my body, I felt so Hindu at that moment. I wanted to go inside and hug everyone a very happy Diwali. I went to the hotel, had my dinner and asked where could I buy things for Diwali. Though I felt everyone staring at me but the owner of the hotel who was like a friend now, told me to go half a kilometer ahead. I followed the directions but directed shop was closed.
While coming back I didn't take the cab and decided to count the houses decorated by lighted candles. Four houses and two shops. It was enough, I understood the true meaning of Diwali. I never celebrated Diwali with a zeal and today I wanted to do it so badly. Luckily, I saw a shop where some children were buying crackers, it was about to close. I bought candles, rockets, fountains, agarbatti(incense sticks) and more crackers. I quickend my pace back home and tried to stop a cab after walking a kilometer. I got a cab and everyone inside was staring at me for a moment atleast. I tried smiling back but only to look foolish.
Anyway, I came home lit candles all around and started firing crackers. No one came out to greet me but after half an hour a buddhist girl came out to see what was happening. I expected she would come out. I kind of liked her from over a month and she is beautiful. As usual no words come out whenever I try to initiate a conversation. And now she was alone and had come out to see the bursting of crackers and waited for some time beside the wall, and still my hesitation prevailed. I expected she would wish happy Diwali but instead she just turned around and left. I said to myself "concentrate".
So, after all that I came to my room, lit an agarbatti, pulled out my mobile and opened mata Lakshami's picture, offered some apples and bananas and some Mentos to the picture. And I prayed. I always considered myself an atheist, but I prayed. It was not the god I was praying it was a tradition I was following and it felt so good and so important, felt like I am a part of something great. I always thought I would let my child choose his religion but now I felt like it would just confuse him of his identity. I was feeling so much connected to myself.