By Jasroop Singh Walia, IInd B.A. Programme.
You know times have changed, when DU issues anti-Holi advisory ( no water, no color ) and prohibits its celebration on campus. Nevertheless, childhood memories abound when I sit down, reminiscing about the festival of colors. How it meant, imploring dad to take us to the market on Holi eve, where we used to take our own sweet time deciding which ‘pichkaari’ to buy. The one in orange, or the one with a longer range, or the one with multiple punctures, or those expensive reloading gun pichkaaris, it was always tough to close down on one. Parents took extra care while buying colors (herbal only, they used to say).
A couple of hours were always spent filling up the water balloons and stockpiling them before going to bed (you had to be ready with the arsenal before going to war). The same routine was followed by waking up early morning, with special instructions to fill up just half of the balloon with water (it increases its impact potential,FYI). Mother made us battle ready; cutting big polythene bags in the shape of our vests, which fit perfectly over our frail bodies. She used to apply oil on our faces, hair and ears for protection, though it seemed like a ritual preceding the chant, Vijaye bhavo ( May Victory fall on you). Weapons at hand, we then marched out onto the street.
Friendly fire used to greet us, where it was customary that comrades in our camp pour a bucket full of colored water, hit balloons at all the right and wrong spots, and unload the pichkari at our face, point blank range with full force. Now that we’re officially into the camp, we plotted and attacked every passing soul with a barrage of balloons and water hits. One used to be kind to those unlucky uncles, all dressed up in formal shirt and trousers, going to work on their two wheelers, but all those multi-coloured big boys shouting on kinetics and motorcycles were attacked with full vigor. It used to be a different matter if they stopped their bike and got down to avenge the assault. The initial few seconds were spent in going for a full throttle attack, and thereafter, retreating to the comfort of one of the homes. A parent would then be summoned to be a savior, and they used to sort those big boys out ( parents were serious people, no one messed with them).
Whenever our confidence and arsenal was high enough, we used to muster up courage to charter into new territories, attacking new neighborhoods. Head-on battles were always about making the most important decisions of your life. To save your life and run away from the oncoming onslaught, or to use up those 5 precious seconds in retrieving one of your rubber chappal which slipped away. After every Holi, I ended up buying new chappals though, but as a punishment, had to scrub the color off the house walls.
I smile and smile and smile, thinking how carefree those days used to be. The days when you’d forget home beckons you. I spend my Holi eves now, completing one assignment or the other, remembering still, the hours spent stockpiling the water balloons.
Let me be a child again. I wish.