It must be the smell of incense and the soft glow of the oil lamps. Or the twinkling lights and colorful dresses. Perhaps, it’s joining the celebrations of a small and marginalised group of people we call Malaysians that makes Deepavali special to me.
When I lived in Kuantan years ago, I had to walk through a rubber estate to go to my kindergarten at a tiny Catholic chapel called St. Theresa. Along my daily journey, I often meet the Indian family who lives in the estate, and who survived by tapping rubber before dawn, though ending up only with a measley sum everyday.
I befriended their kids and had a wild time chasing goats and chickens around their houses.
I could not forget how cool it was to walk through those rubber trees, and how earthy the rubber milk jars hanging from the tress were. I used to learn a little about how to tap the trees. It was quite a daunting task.
And this Deepavali, it does sadden me to see things happening around our Indian brothers and sisters. But it does give me hope too because there are many Malaysians who are fighting for the truth. For RPK, for the HINDRAF leaders, for many, many others in ISA detention and beyond.
As I celebrate the festival of lights in Bangkok, I’d am grateful for Prasana (from Nepal) and Rizvana (a Muslim lady from India) who will be cooking dinner for me today as we usher in this beautiful Hindu festival.
I wish everyone Happy Deepavali, don’t forget to keep the flame of goodness over evil burning in our hearts. That’s the true spirit of Diwali.
To others, a happy holiday is what we all need.