Yesterday was holi. For all you readers in South India (all two of you), we had a holiday. Yes, there are more important occasions deserving a public holiday than Rajnikanth’s birthday.
Now, as a general rule, I do not like festivals, especially the kind that involves mass absenteeism at work (think Christmas, Diwali and now Holi and Good Friday combined) and the general air of celebration, happiness and loud music (What IS with this song, Faavicol anyway?), especially when I am stuck at work while rest of the world is enjoying at home/taking a vacation.
As a kid, I used to love Holi. Being an early riser, I would be ready with my cheap colours, gulal and water balloons sharp at nine, dressed in my most tattered clothes, all excited to get down and dirty, knocking on the doors of my other friends who were barely out of the bed. I wouldn’t even notice how the next few hours would go by, as I would run around the locality, pouring buckets of cold coloured water on one another, respectfully bending down to touch the feet of elders while colouring them with gulal and simply throwing balloons at non-suspecting strangers on the road and running away, only to discover that they have already reached home before me to complain to my folks. The next few hours would be spent in agonizing pain as my mom would try to get the colour off me with various cleaning agents, while I would pray that I would retain it and miss school for a couple of days.
But once I moved out of home, I was less excited about holi and the fact that it usually came in the middle of exams meant I couldn’t play even if I wanted to. But being in a hostel, that was hardly an option, and each year I would end up with colours/gulal and while I cribbed at that point, now I know how precious it was to be with friends who cared enough to drag you out of your miserable text books and give you some respite.
However, the Holi highlight has to be the two years of my MBA, when it was probably at its dirtiest best. No matter how much you refuse, how hard you try to stay away from the hooliganism and how determined you are to not participate in the mayhem, you ended up being dragged, bathed and caked. The more fuss you created, the worse would be your state. Today, when I look back, I could only smile at the hideous photos, the memories of the ‘maltreatment’ and the agony of getting back to a sober state.
In the last four years since I have started working, it has been one huge slide to loneliness: the first couple of years were good fun as I celebrated with a slightly childlike flatmate who took all festivals very seriously and another childlike boyfriend who made home, feel like, well, home; but after the flatmate got married and the boyfriend got back to being just a boy, I also lost the heart or the soul to celebrate: be it holi, be in Diwali, be it Christmas, be it New Year or be it any occasion.
Today, as I sit in a sparsely populated office, I wonder if my love for colour is gradually giving way to a clinginess to darkness…