” Mom, I want a spiderman water gun with double boosters and a long pump, 3-litre storage with a backpack and it’s available at Amazon for just 1000 rupees.”
” Mommy, I also want it”
“ Babies, your water gun from last Holi is working perfectly fine!”
Time rewinds and I am 10 years old. My brother is troubling my mom for a water gun.
” Mom, can we go to the market to buy me a water gun from Goyal uncle’s shop? All my friends have already bought theirs.”
And out came a brass ‘pichkari’ (water gun)!
“Use this one, this is what your dad used to play with when he was a kid”
Not too pleased, but knowing that this is probably his best option, my brother took the ‘pichkari’.
Mom smiled and got back to making ‘gujiya’, ‘thandai’, ‘malpua’, ‘mathri’, ‘shikanji’ to name a few dishes that were synonymous with Holi in our household. The whole house smells of ghee, cardamom and sugar. I am wondering if she should start a small scale industry. I grab a few pieces of the ‘mathri’ on my way out and get an arched eyebrow and get a hint of a smile.
It’s the ‘holi’ morning and all my cousins and uncles and aunts have come to stay and celebrate the festival with us. The backyard of the house has been converted into a store room with ‘pichkaris’, 50-litre grain storage drums now have green, blue and pink colors to their brims, all parts of our bodies are soaking in oil hoping to get rid of the colors much after we have played with them.
“Anu, Anu let’s go”.
My best friend is here and she is already wet and coloured. She lives across the street and if she is in this state while crossing the road, I have to be well prepared. I stuff some ‘gulal'(organic dry color) and some not so organic colors in my pockets take my water gun and off we go. The moment I step out my friends who had been hiding behind my house gate, catch me and there I am all wet and coloured. We have found my brother and his friends jumping in the drums which had been carefully hidden in our backyard for refilling the water guns and throwing buckets of water on visitors.
Finally, I give in and join the fun. Now we keep a watch for any uncle, aunty or kid passing by the street and no one is left dry. It’s been 3 hours now and we are exhausted. We now head for the pandal where food, thandai has been arranged. My entire colony is here and everyone is hugging each other, for ‘holi milan’. Finally, we head back home.
My house looks freshly painted in rainbow colors and God alone knows how much time and effort it will take to clean this. But then that’s the mom in me thinking now. That time it would have only caught my fancy for a second.
I am still reveling in my memories and am amazed to find out how life is same, but different over the years. I have subconsciously slipped into my mom’s role. There is gujiya, gulab jamuns, mathri all in the process. We don’t have too many cousins coming in. We all live in nuclear family set ups in metros and are busy with our lives. Kids don’t want water guns, they want ‘the’ water guns! ‘Holi Milan’ means rain dance and DJ, but even after all this the spirit of the festival still lives on. Even today if I catch anyone in clean clothes, I find it my duty to go ahead and color him/her. My holi mantra is always ‘bura na mano, khul ke khelo holi’ and of course I am not promoting slimy people who use this festival for lude gestures. This video so beautifully reflects my mantra :)!
Though the blog is about the spirit of holi and my memories around it, at the end of the blog there is a special note.
Due to severe drought in certain states, we have decided to observe a dry holi this year and make a small dent in the universe :). At least, the adults have. I don’t want to impose my choices on my kids. I will explain them the situation and will leave them with their decision. Many years ago when we were kids, our parents did the same to us by explaining how thousands of kids lose their fingers and eyes working in a firecracker factory and how as an industry they deploy child labor. That year all of us, my cousins and I decided that we will not burn crackers for Diwali. We all were different age groups and are reasons were different (some were just scared :)). However, after that we never did and still had so much fun every Diwali, as festivals are not only about burning crackers or playing with color and water, they are about families and friends bonding. But yes, the decision has to be theirs, because if it’s their decision they will not feel forced but responsible.