It was a festival of light, a festival of new clothes, new hopes, new laughter, new dreams, a festival of beaming smiles and greetings. The incessant clamoring of children, the deafening booms of the firecrackers interspersed with squeals of high pitched delight. The environment was brimming with life. I guess festivals have that in them, they make people bloom.
The ground was strewn with shredded colored paper, pieces of broken strings, empty cartons of firecrackers and wisps of smoke wafted by in the cool night breeze. The children were hovering around one boy who was about to light the fuse of a firecracker, the excitement could be seen in that tense body. The fuse lit a momentary lull and the firecracker burst and the children went OOOOOO .
One kid was in the forefront of that group, the chirpiest of the lot, coaxing others, laughing the loudest, his clothes weren't new but they were clean, neatly patched in places, a beautiful grin on his face. He did not own any firecrackers, he did not have new clothes but he was the happiest of the lot. He was a special kind of a person, a person who could soak up the happiness around him and then radiate it ten fold all over. His happiness was that contagious.
He lived in a small shack behind the housing complex, his father, a habitual drunkard, worked as a day laborer doing odd jobs around the houses. His mother was a housemaid serving the nearby households. They barely eked out a living but in their own ways they made do with what they had, and if they were lucky they would get some handouts from the people living in the complex.
It was getting late in the night and after the stock of firecrackers was depleted, people started to wander off to their houses, the children, breathless and tired but happy, bundled off to bed and the silence of the night crept in slowly.
After about an hour or so a stealthy shadow could be seen moving on silent feet with a burlap sack picking up the shredded paper, empty cartons and the dud firecrackers. Carefully, small hands picked up the brightest of the paper and put them in the sack till the sack was filled. The shadow vanished as quietly as it had appeared.
Next morning, there was this group of children in front of the shack, awestruck and silent as they gazed enviously at the shredded paper spread over the ground, empty cartons of firecrackers carelessly thrown around. The place resembled a street square after a huge celebration. And the boy was once again in the forefront, talking nonstop about the fun he had. 'Oh!!!! You should have seen the lights and the sounds from my firecrackers' I have never seen so much in my life and the sound almost made me deaf, it was so loud, where were you all guys, you sure missed the greatest spectacle in the town and the other boys wryly shook their heads and mumbled about having been put to bed early. 'My father got them for me, and wanted to surprise me and man!!!!! He sure DID, coz when I reached home there they were waiting for me, I took me at least 4 hours to go through the firecrackers. It was soooo much fun I have the best father in the world - he trilled .
From inside the shack the father turned on his side in his sleep, bleary bloodshot eyes opened for a while trying in vain to focus in a drunken stupor, gave up and closed. A calloused hand scratched at a chin and he passed out again. An incoherent mumbling was lost amidst the pealing laughter of the children.
And a new day awaited the boy to paint his dreams on.