Holi – even the name pops a hundred tiny color balloons in your heart, right? But within me, I guess, the formula to produce them is missing. I never liked the concept of playing with colors, let alone going out, inviting others to sprinkle some on me. But somewhere up above in the sky, God had been planning to teach me a sweet lesson.
Two years back, on this day, I woke up to a call from my school friend Devina. We had somehow drifted apart with time. When 5 years back we had run into each other on a busy street, I gawked at her hoping to chatter the evening away whereas she ecstatically announced her wedding date and took her leave. Soon I moved to a faraway city for job and that was it – neither I looked back nor she bothered to call out to me.
So when I saw her name flashing on my phone, I was cynical for a few seconds and answered it presumably on the last ring. First thing I said was ‘happy holi’, to which she was utterly nonchalant and instead pleaded with me to meet her. I was taken aback as I had always known her as the most zealous person when it came to any sort of festival. I agreed half-heartedly as the idea of going out on this day made me cringe.
She was miles away as I neared her.
‘Let’s sit inside the cafe…people playing with colors is getting on my nerves, you know!’ I made a face.
She frowned. ‘Let’s stay here for a while…feels good.’
I examined her face for a long time. ‘You look a tad too clean for this day…didn’t you play holi?’
She shook her head. ‘It’s been 3 years…’
‘Just don’t find…enough time…after…marriage.’ She said, hesitantly and avoiding eye contact.
I could probe further but there was no use. I knew why it took her a good one minute to form that bizarre reply. In fact, a lie. Her faint smile and color deprived face told me what she couldn’t.
At that moment, in her glittering eyes, I could see the reflection of those young girls throwing colors up in the air and dancing on the street. And surprisingly, however much I hated it, I smiled as one of them threw some onto my clothes. I wiped the color off my dress and rubbed my hands over her cheeks. ‘Happy holi, Devi.’
And my best friend and her wonted impish smile was back. Despite my thousand excuses and protests, she grabbed a handful of color and threw all of that at my face. ‘Happy holi, bestie!’
I believe she just needed someone to show her who or what she had lost. And that someone was me…unbelievable! Nevertheless, I also ended up making a memory which, much to my relief, makes myself seem a little less crass.
Written by Chirasree Bose