The festival of lights enlightens our lives each year with memories of the past and illuminates our future with hope and joy. With the arrival of Diwali, special moments flood the mind. One such incident of my first Diwali after marriage has snuggled itself deep within my heart.
Being the newly-wed wife of a young Army captain, I was exuberant to join our regiment at Suratgarh and be part of the regimental family. After the welcome parties, I finally settled down to set up our first home with just a handful of knowledge of being the perfect housewife and hostess.
Being a senior officer’s daughter I never entered the kitchen so cooking was not my forte! But my husband accepted being the guinea pig as well as the critic to the various dishes I created daily flipping pages of recipe booklets! Some cuisines were disasters while others were hits.
By the time Diwali arrived, I had managed to cook well enough to survive. Diwali was a day full of excitement as my husband was home too. The fridge was stocked with sweets in case anyone chose to come. Clad in my bridal finery, enveloped in perfume and tons of jewellery, I wanted to welcome the festival as a bride. I was all excited to burst a few mild crackers and light the candles. Just as we stepped in after lighting the candles, the phone rang. My husband broke the news that the regimental officers and their wives were reaching home in 15 minutes to have a lavish meal followed by a French pudding! My make-up clad face could not conceal my ashen white expression. Ten officers with their wives coming for a meal in 15 minutes. Gosh! I was in tears. My remorse was short-lived as my husband consoled me that it was all regimental spirit and anything simple and quick would suffice.
Swallowing down my inhibitions with chilled lemon juice I decided to rise to the occasion and do my best not letting my husband down. I was about to plunge my well-designed henna hands into the dough that was to be kneaded, the doorbell rang and in seconds everyone stormed into the kitchen. I apologized for the mess but someone untied my apron, dusted off my hands and took me in the hall. And behold! Aromatic food was amicably laid on the table!! I was confused and dumbfounded. It was all a well-kept secret, that this was a surprise party. Each lady had prepared a dish and got along !!
My bridal finery was intact, the kitchen was left spotless thanks to the ladies’ help, the simple food was delicious and the pudding was French. But the best moment that took the cake that evening was when it was disclosed that the entire set up was my husband’s well chalked out plan. It was the most precious Diwali gift I ever received !!
What more could a bride ask for on her first Diwali ??
Preeti Singh (2014)