By:- Abhishek Mahato

“Restart” for all those who have watched “12th fail” will agree with me, that New Year eve gives a reason to celebrate and restart with new zeal and enthusiasm.

The story I am going to narrate is when I used to reside in the in the quaint town of Dugda, nestled in the heart of Bokaro district in Jharkhand.

Picture this: a small duplex in D-7, one of the eight quarters in the town, where my family of four and my grandmother resided. Back then, my father, toiling away in the coal washery, had little time to spare for us during the early years of my childhood. Little did I know that these 2 bhk quarters, with a total carpet area of 500 sq ft would seem enormous in retrospect.

The town had a peculiar characteristic – frequent power shutdowns. Expecting electricity at any given moment was a rarity, and the absence of such expectations became a lesson in itself. Maybe that’s why, even now, I refrain from expecting too much from anyone, sparing myself from unnecessary disappointment.

The anticipation of a power cut during any time of the year was the norm, making New Year’s Eve a unique experience. However, what might sound like a dull prospect turned out to be an extraordinary experience, etching fond memories in my heart.

As the New Year approached, planning became a family affair. Kids had their group, and so did the parents. Our modest abode had a small verandah opening into a common corridor connecting the other three quarters. Entry was unrestricted, and the children would engage in an endless game of hide and seek, chor-police and kabaddi throughout the night.

My mother, known for her culinary prowess, prepared a mouthwatering mutton dish that still makes my mouth water at the mere thought of it. Meanwhile, our neighbor, an Uttar Pradesh pandit, and his wife concocted a delightful menu of puri, aloo ki sabji, and chhole. “Litti-chokha,” baked on cow dung cakes in the traditional style was also one of the cherished items.

The night would pass in laughter, games, and the tantalizing aroma of food, with no gadgets, TV, mobile phones, or electricity to interrupt the simplicity of our celebration. Late into the night, we would finally retire to our beds.

The following morning brought a day off for the coal washery employees, including my father. His office colleagues, along with their families, would plan a delightful outing near the foothills of the temple atop the hill. This impromptu picnic involved sweet dishes, flying kites, cooking food, and pure joy shared among friends – all without the intrusion of mobiles, power supply, or the internet. In this bygone era, where simplicity was the essence of celebration, we discovered the magic of connection, laughter, and shared moments that needed no digital validation. Those were the days when life’s restart button held the promise of genuine joy and warmth, illuminating our hearts far more brilliantly than any electric light ever could.