The history teacher’s monotonous voice sounded like television static. It had drilled my ears for forty-five minutes. I was in a trance and I was sure I wouldn’t recover.
I couldn't thank my stars enough, for the school bell rang loud and clear, marking the end of the day. I shook my sleepy self and decided to get out of the classroom. I walked towards the quadrangle.
‘Happy Holi, and happy holidays, N!’ said A.
It was the last day of school and the summer holidays were set to begin.
I turned to wish him but was startled. He applied a rough, cool powder onto my face. It smelled like the earth. Ah, Holi, the festival of colours. I frowned, took a bit of it from my cheek and smeared it back on his face and clothes thinking that was what I was supposed to do. He greeted me with more powder on my clothes and face. His hands nearly choked me.
‘Gosh, stop, stop, let me breathe…’ I said, clutching his shirt and gasping for breath. Little did he know that this was one of my tactics to trap him.
I was planning my act when he cut right in with his question.
‘N, what colour do you want me to apply? Red, green, pink or yellow?’
‘What?’ I exclaimed, without a thought. ‘Yellow perhaps?’ Another rough smear on my face — was it turmeric? I wanted to sneeze. By the time I readied myself for the next round, A had left. Making the most of this chance I decided to head to the playground where we usually dumped our bags on last days like these while we waited for the school bus to take us home.
People ran helter-skelter and I tried to squeeze my way through the mad crowd that was perhaps, think about their holidays more than they were welcoming spring. To my right somewhere, a water gun splashed. I felt a sharp cold dash of water on my neck. It was the water gun. Some of it went into my mouth. It tasted...rusty? Ugh. But I was determined to have some fun. My cousins had bragged so much about Holi.
I decided to join the fun. I dumped my school bag onto the pile of other bags. I borrowed some powder from A. I went about smearing it on people I’d never interacted with before. I laughed when I succeeded in foxing someone with the colour, I cried as some of it went into my eyes, sulked when it was sprayed on me and squealed in excitement when everyone laughed. I was truly having fun. I came back home dripping colours. I stank like a wet dog— I was jubilant.
It was my first Holi.
Today, years later, as I reminisce those times, I can’t help but realise that this year will be yet another first. I can now see — the people, the celebration, the fun and most importantly, the way the colours fly about making everyone happy.
Thank you stranger. I seem to like your eyes. It's a good product. Sigh(t).
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