Of all the gifts I received this Diwali, it was the most intriguing, unexpected and interesting one. Like most best gifts, it was intangible – a phone call with a blessing from a stranger I had never seen, and would never see.
It was that hour of the Diwali evening when the oil lamps have finished burning, the crackers have lit up the skies in a blaze of light and there is the sort of silence which reverberates every few minutes with the sounds of crackers being burst somewhere in the distance. I was working on my novel set on Diwali days through the last century and this one, when the phone rang again from an unknown number. It was a call from an acquaintance, someone whom I had helped with some professional advice when they asked for it. I hardly knew them, and so the call was a surprise. It was a bigger surprise when they said they were calling from their native place, a remote village in Gujarat and their father wanted to bless me on the occasion, and I found myself listening to a warm, elderly gentleman who thanked me profusely for the advice I had given his child and blessed me again and again with good health and success and happiness and a long life. I felt humbled and overwhelmed.
I was reminded of a Tamil folk music Professor whom I had gone to interview in her Madurai home, and the beautiful blessing she had given me after the interview, a string of complex sentences in a mixture of folk and classical Tamil that she pronounced with the fluency and vibrant nature of her folk songs that have enthralled millions of people. Whenever I speak to her on the phone even now, I can hear the blessings in her voice.
It is one of the most beautiful things in the world, to see elderly people who have lived complete, contented lives and recieve their blessings given with a full heart, expecting nothing in return. They naturally command respect and inspire admiration, these happy elders, showing how a senior age can be as beautiful a phase as childhood or youth or the middle years of life.
There are some lovely ladies on social media who radiate this happiness and contentment. One is a Tamil Maami who shares kitchen tips, annotates her traditional Tamil recipes with anecdotes from her childhood that evokes RK Narayan’s Malgudi, and emparts spiritual knowledge and advice as she expertly seasons her curries. Her videos start and conclude with a gentle blessing. Another is a Marwadi Mummyji who shares innovative and healthy vegetarian recipes. Yet another is a charming Yoga Guru who looks like she is in her early fifties and recently celebrated her 75th birthday. It is a joy to listen to them and others like them, these happy women whose voices radiate warmth and joy and contentment, so much that it feels they are blessing their viewers as they share life advice and of course, recipes.