"Where is the money to celebrate Diwali," Shivkumar Sharma snapped at his wife. Prabha didn't shout back. She waited for us to ask our next question and then yell it for Sharma to hear. The Mumbai train blasts of July 11 had left the Malad resident almost deaf, besides injuring his right arm and head.
Prabha knew her husband's frustration was only natural. He has a family of six to look after but has not gone back to the welding factory in Girgaum since the blasts. "We have been living off my meagre savings," Sharma, 48, said. But Sharma mellowed down soon enough. He knew how much his boys wanted crackers for Diwali.
For the Sharmas, Diwali meant Laxmi puja, new clothes, lots of crackers and jewellery. "We used to buy crackers in bulk. But this year, we will only pray. We have to thank god for saving my husband, Prabha said.
While Sharma hopes to get back to work after Diwali, he dreads having to go on the train. "Even the Diwali crackers upset me. I know the boys will be upset this Diwali," said Sharma.
Ask the boys. "This will be our biggest Diwali. We will celebrate it like never before since father is with me and my family," said Girish, Sharma's 19-year-old son.
Their neighbours, the Chavans, will agree. Their 21-year-old son was paralysed in the blasts but the family is looking forward to celebrate Diwali. There won't be crackers but hear-felt prayers. "I will do the Diwali puja with all my heart and thank God that I am alive," said Chavan, strapped to a wheelchair.
"My mother has always encouraged me to look ahead. She constantly reminds me that this is just a passing phase and things will be fine again. Laxmi puja this year will be like every other year," he said.