It was dark already and ‘Holi” was still more than a week ahead. It did not matter to us, as the moment the water balloons and colors were available in the market, it was time for us to set the ball rolling. I and my younger siblings had got our cache of water balloons filled and ready in a small packet as we hid in the balcony of our second floor quarter. The camouflage was complete, with a cot covered with a sheet to give us a perfect hiding place. The first one targeted was a taxi driver who was walking towards the thick growth of bushes to attend the nature’s call. The balloon struck the unsuspecting target and he shouted! We hid ourselves and held our breath. The thrill that we experienced was unmatched. More targets were located and the water balloon missiles kept hitting the targets ranging from a college girl, a neighborhood friend, the vegetable seller and many more! The operation lasted barely half an hour lest we be caught in the act, never targeting the same person again!
On the night of ‘Holi’ the neighborhood congregated around a bonfire to dance , celebrate with dry colors, exchange greetings and sweets. We would join the revelry and after a while peel off to commence our covert operation from the balcony. Once, the missile inflicted damage to the guitars being assiduously tuned by Mr Brown, a friendly neighbor! The camaraderie was such, that despite knowing who was behind it, never took offence !
On the D- day morning, we would arm ourselves with pichkaris, gulal with fragrance of rose petals, of all hues, green, pink, red, and yellow. After getting wet we would stand in the sun to dry ourselves, raid the kitchen full of delicious, gujias, kachori, samosas, besan sev, laddos, namak para and many more , all prepared at home. We would then converge on other houses and indulge in endless spraying of colors, eat savories in their house and exchange greetings. Later in the afternoon the entire neighborhood gathered in the lawns where people would ‘drink thandi and bhang’ play drums, dance and sing songs. We had a mix of people of all religions and background in the government colony where we lived and each one celebrated with only same rare exceptions! It was a day when all the differences were sunk in the spirit of unabashed revelry. It gave us an opportunity to savor the delicacies of every region in the country and reflected the rare unity which is difficult to witness in present times.
PS: 1. Image Kind courtesy Google
3. Wishing all the readers a very happy and colourful 'Holi'