I was about 18, my first year of college, and first year away from home. The only vague memory I had of Holi was when I was about 6 years old, and a purple balloon had come skyrocketing into my fourth floor apartment and spread its hue across the wall. Till date, I look back on that feat with amazement for the person who threw the balloon that high. Unfortunately, I’ll never know who the young lad was, for he never owned up out of fear of being punished.
So there I was, almost 12 years later, standing drenched in black coloured liquid which was showered upon me as soon as I set foot into the society. With that war had been declared! With my hair, hands, feet and face all oiled to what I thought was perfection, I was ready to battle.
I can’t deny the pure happiness I experienced while smearing the brightest of colours across my friends’ faces. Add water tankers to the scene, and I could almost feel the colour seep into my skin. The oil wouldn’t let it, I was told, and with that in mind, I continued to play what would later come to be known as my first and last Holi.
After stuffing myself with snacks, I was ready for my next battle of the day – with the colour that settled on me! After hours of scrubbing every inch of my body, I could still see gulaal (bright pink) stains all over me. It was almost like I was wearing glasses tinted in that colour – the world around me was bright pink! I remember the shower not being powerful enough to strike the colour hard enough to lighten it, and I resorted to sitting under the tap, armed with a soap bar and shampoo bottle to take the pinks away. While the colour did leave my skin after hours of incessant scrubbing with water, soap and shampoo, my scalp had to bear the shame of carrying that colour for another day or so.
For the two consecutive Holi celebrations, I was locked up in my house, afraid not of the colour, but the post-celebration clean-up!
It’s been 7 years since I allowed the colour to touch my skin and nothing is going to make me change my mind this year either. If anything, the news of drought-struck Maharashtra will urge me not to take the lift down the six floors to participate in the celebration. I can’t imagine wasting tankers of water to enjoy the morning, and then wasting even more as the shower tries to cleanse my body of all the colour, especially when this is what the state is going through.