It is that time of the year again when folks will gird themselves up for battle, oil their skin and hair, apply waterproof sunscreen by the gallon, wear clothes that can be trashed with no remorse and venture out, to be fortified by liquids to which ground seeds of an intoxicating nature have been added and all this to make complete fools of themselves.
I had never ever played Holi in my life until last year. I managed to escape scotfree every year by hiding in remote corners of my home, locking myself up in the bathroom, and generally moving all the sturdy furniture against the door when the Holi revellers came knocking. I moved to a new building complex a couple of years earlier. I was also by now much older than the shivering teen who shivered under a bed, and also braver. What is that they say about fools rushing in, etc, etc. It also didnt help that I had gotten myself into the organising committee for cultural functions and celebrations in the building complex. Therefore, I had a job to do. And by jove I would do it. Even if it demanded I dredge up the minutest reserves of strength I had to go down and face the music. Er, the colours. And so I did. I went down to supervise the arrangements. I was soundly drenched by well wishers the moment I stepped out of the lobby. Once you are completely drenched right at the beginning of the festivities, you become fearless. You become right reckless. You morph into the woman with a packet of gulal (only organic colours, mind you) running like a packdog behind newbies to get them multicoloured, and help them blend right into the mass of coloured drenched folk. You end up being the person dragging buckets of water with reserves of energy you never knew you possessed but are glad to know now that you do in event of any being stuck in the jungle kind of situation when you might need said energy, unless of course, you’re wilting with the jungle heat. You also end up being the person doing the chicken dance in the raindance.
And yes, this is when you havent consumed the intoxicating beverages on offer, because you have on principle, given up intoxicating beverages a few years ago. I shudder to think how I would have been had a couple of glasses of said intoxicating stuff made it past my gullet.
I must add though that the Holi celebrations in the complex last year was great fun, apart from some frayed tempers at the end between the menfolk which they sorted amongst themselves by tearing off shirts much in the ancient ritualistic manner of the Neanderthal man and indulging in much chest thumping in the process too. We women stayed out of it, and downed hot pakoras. The man played their own Holi amongst themselves and so did the women folk in the time honoured tradition of the zenana and the mardana or whatever the enclosure for the men is called, in modern times it would be the sports bar, I’m thinking. The twain did not mingle until it was time to go home when one tried to take informed guesses based on height and physical build as to which of the coloured personae on display was one’s legally betrothed. Occasionally folks have heard loud screams from neighbouring homes when post shower, the person accompanying one home has been revealed not to be the spouse at all. We have no official record how many folks actually didnt scream in such a situation but accepted their good luck silently, and hoped that the mistake wouldnt be rectified in good time.
We play Holi on Monday. I’m looking forward to it with the same mix of anticipation and dread that I normally reserve for the watching of horror movies. No doubt by the end of the day my face would be right fit to be part of the cast of zombies from Resident Evil. But I’m going to have fun. What about you?