There are lingering images of those days when as a kid through teens I used to play Holi. Images of innocence, images of suppressed anger when some boy chose to spray the girl you looked at often with colours that you wanted to spray her with but for some reason could not. Images of innocent cruelty when the gulal you put on the next door ‘Uncle’ you disliked was mixed with the powder derived from Forget-Me-Nots. And the ‘Uncle’ screaming vengeance as you looked on laughing your eyes streaming at the picture ‘Uncle’ made – though at the back of the mind was a sense of trepidation at what could later be – the consequence of folly.
Yet, the significance of Holi for me springs from that Holi that I did not play. The night before bhang-inebriated we sat round the embers of the tongues of fire that had reached for the skies but an hour ago. Some one inquired about the novel I was writing. Some one else asked me to narrate the story. I began enthusiastically and went on till somebody exclaimed: “Your heroine is too good to be true.” I stopped the narration as some odd apocalypse hit me. I went to the niche where I had placed the 2000 and odd pages written in long hand stored in some 20 notebooks got them out and returned to the embers and threw them all in and suddenly the tongues leapt briefly again to consume my work. As I looked at the winking red embers mocking at me, I felt the colours dry up within me. I walked into the darkness ignoring my worried friends and cried.
I never played Holi again.