February 14, 2014

Light aa gayi, Light aa gayi!!

Remember the good old days when the lights went out and there were no generators or invertors and neither mobile phones or battery generated modes of entertainment. Just plain darkness and sudden silence, as if you are ALONE in this whole world.

Then, Mummy appeared with a flickering candle in her hand and everyone gathered around it.  It became a good old family time with Papa, Mummy, grandparents and kids, the entire joint family huddled together. It wasn't that there were not enough candles, but with not much to do, you just sat together for a chatter and something to snack on.

These were the days when Power cuts were not published in the daily newspaper. Even later when they started publishing this information, these surprise ones were over and above the OFFICIAL ones. A sudden rush of wind or slight rain ensured that a tree fell somewhere cutting the light for the entire neighborhood.

As the tragedy struck, the children were mobilized as per their talents - the perpetual caller was put in charge to keep dialing the electricity department to check on the status of return (who had obviously put their phone on hold to avoid the constant ringing), the perpetual roamer was put in charge to go check with the neighbors, if their lights were out too or if they knew anything about its return. There was always someone in the neighborhood who knew more than the others, having a distant relative or a friend's friend, who knew someone, who worked in the electricity department.

These cuts struck always at the most critical hours, ensuring you miss your favorite prime time shows on DD (alas, there were no repeats then). Instead the children created silly but fun games and competitions. There was one where we played with the candle flame, as in swiping the finger across the flame quickly and maximum number of times. The idea was not to burn, but be daring enough. Although Mummy always got mini heart attacks seeing my brother do that. Once she got so bugged, that she held his finger and pushed it into the flame. It didn't burn but he learnt a lesson for life.  There were other safer games too, like staring at the flame the longest without blinking, or waging  bets whether the candle would last longer or the electricity would come back first

You of course know about the tradition of telling horror stories after dark. My brother had a field time cooking up gory stuff while I controlled my urge to go to the toilet in the dark. The sweat and mosquitoes became your biggest enemies.  You trying to swat the devils while they had a good time feeding on you, as extra clothes came off to beat the heat.

On summer nights we came out to enjoy the bright moon light and cool breeze post a good rain. The temporary cot laid out in the courtyard became a battleground with everyone from parents to children fighting for space. The place was filled with screams of "I was first", "No, I was first", "Mummy, he is pushing me",  till an elder intervened and harmony prevailed.  But you still pushed around for space around your mother to feel the air as she turned a newspaper into a hand fan. Although, I preferred electricity cuts of the winters, when you could just sit inside the house and enjoy the dim lighting, in the cuddle of your blanket.

Generally all light and fan switches were shut but one or two to reduce the burden on the circuit, in case that was THE reason for its collapse. All eyes on that one bulb to blink with life and fill the house with light. Waiting for God to say "Let there be light!", but the light was literally light years away. Any sudden light like a torch or a passing car made you shout with excitement "Light aa gayi, Light aa gayi" only being booed later for causing a false alarm. Electricity sometimes appeared for nano seconds playing mind tricks with you. It ignited a sudden hope inside you, that God was there, and those engineers were at their job. And if these same engineers happened to arrive next to your house, the men of the house and all the enthu kids surrounded them. As they climbed the electricity pole, the supplies of ladder and repair tools were sourced from the friendly neighborhood.

Sudden spark of light on the bulb and the kids shrieked again "Light aa gayi, Light aa gayi",  flagging off the final competition of "Who will blow the candle?" They rushed towards the candle, to win that final prize, to end the era of darkness and welcome the light (although with a simple act of blowing the candle). And the winner won the respect and jealousy of others who were just not quick enough. But  this victory could also go wrong if the lights went out again. Other losers rolled their eyes at the winner making him realize that his moment of glory was short-lived. If this happened twice, he was labelled a jinx, definitely out of the game forever.

Eventually, if electricity did return, it turned into a mini celebration and the entire neighborhood shrieked in excitement. Mummy immediately put tea and snacks on the cooking gas, so we could eat something nice to mark this joyful moment.


Aahhh… the glorious moment, the victory of light over darkness. No silly, it was the moment to shout at the top of your voice and announce to the world "Light aa gayi, Light aa gayi"


anne said...

Loved this the best Neha!It took me back to my childhood days,the DD shows,the games we played when the lights were out!Could completely relate to it!

Neha said...

Thanks Anne... I am so happy you stopped by and shared your thoughts. Our childhoods so far from each other yet so similar

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