The festival of lights has become an area of fretful darkness. On the one hand, IMF MD Christine Lagarde assures us that we either have everything already, or soon will. In festive terms, this means that you either don’t need anything, or soon won’t, and there’s no point giving you anything. On the other hand, we know that recent economic interventions have taken their toll, and if you gaze too deeply into your wallet, your wallet will also gaze into you. It will let you know that you don’t want to give anyone anything.
Either way, this Diwali presents an existential crisis for the art of giving. And Delhi, shorn of firecrackers by court order, is especially crisis-ridden. This year, half of the people of Delhi are having nighmares about a silent, smokeless, diya-lit Diwali, exactly as it was in the epic era, before the Chinese shook things up by inventing gunpowder. The other half are no doubt dreaming up questionable schemes to smuggle in firecrackers.
But the nation still wants to know what to gift, and there is no answer. Emojis? Why not? It’s the thought that matters. And let us not dismiss it as a novelty striking at the roots of the festive tradition. Some of the earliest internet communities, from two decades ago, used to send each other electronic beer and hamburgers as tokens of appreciation. These days, emojis fly as thick as shrapnel on Diwali night anyway, providing windfall profits for the telecom companies. Let us put some more heart into it, shall we? More bitmapped diyas.
More electronic whisky bottles. More flowerpots. And more clapping hands. While we wait for the government boffins to resist the urge to slash their wrists and just get down and invent pollution-free firecrackers, we need something to lift the spirits.