Let’s begin this post dramatically.
I hate Holi.
I hate it from the bottom of my heart. Of the gazillions of festivals in this county, it’s the only festival I don’t like and therefore never celebrate. I cannot understand the joy behind colouring each other in multiple hues, throwing water and generally making a royal mess. And then spending gallons of water and loads of time and energy to clean up the royal mess. The food is a high point of the festival I admit, but other than that tell me one good thing about the festival.
When I walk down memory lane, I can recall playing Holi exactly twice in my lifetime and hating it on both occasions. Once when I was little and was visiting my grandparents the neighbourhood kids and my grandparents were extremely keen on getting me involved in the whole Holi hullabaloo. I was happy sitting in the comforts of the house watching other’s play but my grandmother wanted me to “be a child” and “have fun”. Being a child was something I couldn’t help and “fun” was subjective concept. In my understanding Holi as I had witnessed it on a few occasions earlier was not fun. Inspite of all the protesting and pouting, I was pushed out of the house. Four hours later I came back- wet, tired, silver and unhappy. I had wanted to escape right on the 12th minute of leaving home but the other children wouldn’t let me go. “Aunty has asked us to make you play” they said. And as aunty was as old as their grandmother, disobeying her was out of the question. Thus whether I liked it or not I was officially a part of the under 12 Holi gang. They had adopted me and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. The under 12 Holi gang interacted with other Holi gangs, most of them over 12 years of age and on some kind of festive high. I tried to hang back, let the other members of my gang take centre stage but they wouldn’t let me. Aunty’s instructions must have been strict or sacrosanct or both. When all strategies of escaping and not playing failed, I resigned to my fate. Which essentially met I let other pour colour and water and coloured water over me. At the end of the “fun” festival I was annoyed, exhausted and yucky looking. The silver colour wouldn’t go easily and I rubbed my face to a bright pink in my ardent effort to get rid of it. Ditto for the red on my feet, the green on my arms and the purple on my palms. For me the festival was a real let down. It wasn’t fun in the least bit. I am sure grandmother dearest was, in all her good intentions, trying to help turn me into an extrovert, bubbly, chatty kid so I don’t really blame her for throwing to at the mercy of the “fun loving” kids. But good intentions aside, I hated the festival. I ended up a bit like she wanted me to but more as a course of natural progression and not as a result of participating in horrid Holi celebrations.
Episode 2 of Holi happened around age 14. It wasn’t as traumatic as the first one but it wasn’t fun either. I mean I went out with a sane group of people who indulged in a mild version of the festival that has gone kinda berserk if you have bothered to noticed, but I dint enjoy it. Where was the fun element in spending all morning painting faces in attractive shades of reds, yellows and blues?? There must be something wrong with me because everyone else seemed to be really enjoying themselves. I find Diwali more exciting than this. Anyway, that was the last time I ever played Holi. I usually stay at home on Holi, lock the door and don’t entertain any neighbourhood kids. They look so sweet and innocent I tell you, but they are little devils in the garb of angels. The year we moved to Bombay innocent looking cute kiddos knocked on our door bright and early in the morning. Idiots that we are we opened it wide enough for an elephant to get through. A few seconds later the kids had covered us completely in gulal, much to their delight and out shock. Since then I have adopted a closed door policy for the morning half of the day.
I walked to my gym last evening carefully sidling along the edge of the pavement and walking under the cover of tree wherever available. I was being extra cautious with the devil in the garb of angles. Thwack! A water balloon hit me precisely on the neck. Good thing it didn’t burst, just bounced off and fell to the ground and exploded. I have a strange neck I think-water balloons don’t burst, they bounce off! I spotted the little devil who had threwn the balloon and went after him. I couldn’t catch him- smartpants ran into the building and before he could I gave him a piece of my mind. Not that he cared, but I told him (and other kids who were hanging around indulging in an early round of Holi) that what he did was not fun. It was in fact dangerous.
This is the part of Holi that I strongly dislike. Playing Holi can be fun if it is within sensible, rational limits. But playing in a manner that harms others is just not done. Parents who let their young kids play unsupervised (as that group of balloon attackers were) at putting their own kids and others at risk. Festivals aren’t supposed to hurt or injure. They are happy times and we shouldn’t be doing anything that takes even the smallest part of that happiness away.
But anyway, I am sure you won’t let me put a damper on your festive sprits. So while I hide at home and read Calvin, all you enthu cutlets have a happy and safe Holi.