I tilted my head a little to see if someone was coming behind us. All I could see was a hazy figure at some distance. I was not sure if I was hallucinating, but the vision of a big, fat cane in her hand gave me the much-desired velocity. I started running faster. The whole lot of boys was following me and my footsteps. The slight wind that was blowing spread the sweat across my face.
Finally, we reached our jhuggi and I carefully caught hold of the big steel vessel—big enough to take in the entire cow dung. The *tishhh* sound of the wet cow dung finally reaching the base of the steel vessel gave each one of us an unmatched feeling of success. Next, the whole packet of colourful balloons was waiting for us. We carefully blew the balloons and filled them with a mixture of cow dung and water. The hard-earned balloons were finally ready.”
The festival of colours was round the corner and I was planning to go home for Holi. With a little extra effort, I managed to get my train tickets booked. Upon reaching my coach, my roving eyes were extremely happy to find a window seat awaiting me. Window seats in the trains have always attracted me like a moth is attracted to the oil. With the train picking up speed, I was going ecstatic. Cherishing my seat, I admired the nature from the window with headphones plugged into my ears. I was wondering how good my stars could be for everything to go on this smoothly.
I was suddenly brought back to the world by a sudden attack on the right side of my torso. By the time I could figure out what actually was going on, I realized that my right side was all wet. The time I took to take off my headphones was good enough for yet another attack to occur. This time from the left side, all the way, across the berth. It was as if somebody had pricked my dream bubble with a phlegm-covered needle.
I was stinking; stinking badly. All the wishes to reach home with an “oh-so-new”-look were in vain. I had just been attacked with some gutter-water-filled balloons. That is what I could decipher from the smell which was a part of my body odour now. From becoming an object of mockery for the whole coach of the train to becoming an alarm for all of the window-seat takers to shut their windows, the Holi celebration was in full-dirty-swing.
The subsequent attacks continued on various people who had earlier laughed on my condition but as someone said, ‘Every dog has his day.’ Slowly and steadily the coach of the train became too crowded with people complaining and getting irritated. Varied cusses about the rowdy and insane hooligans, from the nearby villages around Delhi, who usually throw balloons filled with dirty water on the people during Holi, could be heard.
With an extreme urge to actually shoot those people who were responsible for this absurd act and the reason behind giving a stinky start to my Holi, I just wondered what satisfaction it gives to the numerous Arun-s and Shyam-s by harming and harassing general public! Why this benighted act of harassing public and drawing pleasure from it? They could have instead thrown colours and wished the travelers a Happy Holi instead of Repugnant Holi. In fact on second thoughts, I would have actually been happy to reach home in more colourful clothes than spick and span, dwelling in the satisfaction that my Holi began a day earlier. But Alas, only wish I can!
This article is by Amanjot Kaur, and has been edited by Nirvaan Baid. Both Amanjot and Nirvaan are interning with NTMN in our 2012 Internship-cum-Training Program.