A Divali Story PP

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A DIVALI STORY BY Timothy C. Teemal

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“I don’t like this place grandpa…”

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The trip up from Laventille was nice but Liam saw less and less people that looked like him and more who looked like ‘them.’ Anxiety was beginning to set in.

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“What don’t you like Liam?”

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Liam’s eyes averted Len’s, knowing that who looked like ‘us’ and who looked liked ‘them;’ the people who lined the streets of Felicity, should not matter…but at that moment it did for Liam.

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Liam did not answer and just stared at the scene of colourfully dressed people beaming with pride. He was however also intrigued by the strange bamboo structures.

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“Everything will be all right…we just going to see an old friend.”

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Liam relaxed as his Grandfather placed a comforting hand around his shoulder. Liam knew that he would not let anything happen to him, but Len still sensed his caution.

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“I know what will make you feel better…”

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Len reaches to the backseat of their car with a careful hand and pulls pan sticks into Liam’s sight. Liam lit up and the rest of the drive was easy. That was until they stopped at their destination. Before Liam could say anything his grandfather bolted from the car and hugged a portly East Indian man. Standing in the front yard as well was a young boy named Raymond.

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Liam floated out of the car after his grandfather beckoned him to.

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“ Mamoo , this is my grandson Liam…”

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Liam smiled politely and shook Mungal’s hand .

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“And Mamoo , this is my grandson Raymond”

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Before the obvious question could fully register on Liam’s face the two men disappeared inside leaving Liam and Raymond alone.

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More questions formed on Liam’s face as he looked at the extravagant Indian wear on the similarly aged Raymond.

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“Why did they call each other Mamoo ?”

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“ Mamoo is friend…well, it is actually how one would greet their father’s uncle in Hindi, but most now use it to mean friend.”

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Raymond stuck out his hand to Liam .

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“ Mamoo ?”

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Liam hesitated then took Raymond’s hand and the two boys shook like the men they would one day become.

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“Why are you dressed like that…In fact why is everyone around here dressed up?”

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Liam waved his hand around pointing at the colour and splendour of the dress and decorations that befell the town of felicity. Another bright smile washed over Raymond’s face.

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“It’s for Divali ”

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Raymond saw the look of confusion on Liam’s face.

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“Would you like me to tell you the story of Divali ?”

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Liam smiled and nodded his head in delight .

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“ It started off with Prince Rama and his beautiful wife Sita ”

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Raymond’s forehead furrowed and he wore a look of dread on his face as he moved closer to Liam.

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“But there was also a horrific demon king named Ravana who had ten heads and twenty arms to match…He was jealous of Rama who ruled his people by love whilst his own feared him. But it was Rama’s wife Sita that he was most envious of Rama for.”

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Liam’s eyes widened and his face hollowed as he was sucked deeper and deeper into the story.

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“ Ravana wanted to have Sita for his wife so one day he kidnapped her and took her away in his beautifully decorated chariot…But Sita was clever and left a trail of her jewellery for Rama to follow.”

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“Like a beacon in the darkness, Sita’s shiny jewellery lit the darkened path for Rama to follow and he did so without rest until he came to Hanuman, the leader of all monkeys, who would one day be their king.”

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Raymond paused with the skill of a seasoned story teller; his last words ominous, eliciting the right kind of emotional reaction from Liam.

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Liam could feel his pulse race and his mind ticking over as it longed to find out what happened next.

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“Rama’s reputation as a good and kindly leader had spread wide and far, even reaching the depths of Hanuman’s forest. Hanuman, himself a just leader, bonded with Rama and agreed to help find Sita . He sent out a message to all the monkeys in the world, and through them, the bears.”

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“Rama, Hanuman, and his monkey army scoured the world for Sita , eventually finding her imprisoned on an island. Unable to cross they decided to build a bridge .. “

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“By that time Rama and Sita’s story had reached every single animal big and small, who then decided to help build the bridge. Once the bridge was built Rama and his army of creatures rushed across and an epic battle was fought. “

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There was a look of pure pain on Raymond’s face as he went on. Liam just took a deep gulp, so entangled was he in the story.

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“Many animals lost their lives, but all rejoiced when Ravana was felled by Rama’s magic arrow from his heavenly bow”

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Liam breathed a sigh of relief to hear of the king’s good fortune but Raymond was not finished.

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“Finally in each other’s arms, Ram and Sita’s love seemed to grow right before everyone’s eyes; so great was their affection that it touched the heart of every single creature gathered there that day. A grand feast followed.”

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A grand feast followed. Song, dance and the re-enactment of the epic tale were all part of the festivities. And so was born the traditions of Ramleela which saw the burning of an effigy of Ravana ; still practiced today in many parts of the world.”

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“ Sita and Rama were homesick so after the celebrations, they set out on their long journey back home. Along the way everyone lit handmade oil lamps to guide the royal couple back home as it was the darkest night of the year .”

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“Ever since then people light lamps called Deeyas in honour of the couple, and the battle of light over darkness…Thus was born Divali .”

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After coming out of the story induced daze, Liam let out the air he had held in until the end.

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Raymond smiled, feeling proud that he was able to capture and captivate Liam the way he did. The two smiled broadly then Liam stuck out his hand to Raymond. “ Mamoo !”

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Raymond took his hand and the two shook once again this time knowing something special had just happened. “I want to know everything”

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Liam was very excited and Raymond was energized by this. The two then set out along the roadway to see the splendour that was Divali culture.

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Liam learned that the female traditional dress was called a Sari and that the male pant was a Dhoti.

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Dashing from house to house, Raymond explained to him that the vessel which held the oil to be lit from cotton wicks was a Deya and it was made from clay, hence its reddish colour .

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He also learned that many skilled villagers went to the nearby forests to harvest bamboo stalks which they then cut and bended into intricate works of art depicting many traditional symbols as well as items more specific to the twin island state, like the shape of a boat – which was in honour of ancestors who came from the motherland of India via this mode of transport.

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But what grabbed Liam’s attention the most was the many dishes and delicacies that was offered to him everywhere he went.

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Barfi , Ladoo , and Parsad just to name a few.

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Despite his overindulgence in the sweet treats Liam was more than able to enjoy the massive feast that awaited them back at Mungal’s house later that night.

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Traveling halfway around the world to make their home in the islands meant that these ancestors had to customize some of the traditional dishes; and so was born dishes like, Mango Anchar , Curry chatigne , Curry Mango and Channa and Aloo and the wonderful Roti.

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Mungal and Len watched with a sense of pride to see the two boys getting along so well, as they chatted and chatted.

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However, when it came time for Raymond to show Liam how to light a deya , and the reverence for the moment that Liam demonstrated; was when both Len and Mugal knew the boys had bonded for life, just as they had, many years earlier.

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Parting ways for the four friends later that night was bittersweet, and on the ride back home Liam’s feelings ebbed and flowed. From chatty; explaining to his grandfather, about all that he saw that night; Liam swung to a more sombre tone as their car drove further and further away from Felicity.

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Finally home Liam jumped out of the car and hugged Len tightly .

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“Thank you Grandpa…for showing me how similar the human spirit is”

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Len marveled at Liam’s big words and solid insight knowing right then and there that Liam had made the first step to becoming a real man.

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In one night Liam had learned about the oneness of the human spirit and both understood and embraced the differences in culture.

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‘ Mamoo ’ was how he would come to see every other person on the planet.

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Len and Mungal would continue to pioneer the fusion of each other’s musical styles under the watchful eyes of Liam and Raymond who became best friends. Their friendship never waned. Liam went on to study music at some of the most prestigious universities whilst Raymond became a teacher and musical artiste.

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Raymond never gave up on his dream of writing and storytelling and eventually became famous throughout the country for his many books. But it was his Divali story, which he had told to Liam many years earlier that made him one of the country’s great oral story tellers.

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So as Len and Mungal sat in the audience of the country’s greatest concert hall, they both beamed with pride to see their grandsons on stage continuing the work of fusing humanity; Raymond at the podium mesmerizing the audience with his telling of the Divali story ably accompanied by Liam on the pan. They would go on to showcase the oneness of humanity throughout the world.

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THE END

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