Wednesday, May 3, 2017

'Aaj rang hai ri ..'

She could hear ammi's record player whirring to life as she stepped out gingerly. Her footsteps measured, her heart thumping, her breath taut with anticipation.

The very whiff of gulaal in the air made her shiver with excitement. Before she could breathe it all in, apa's bangle laden hand had dragged her away.
The distant drums that reverberated in the old lanes of the forgotten city. The air thick with shreiks of laughter, giggles and guffaws.

The hands that surrounded her. Soft, scented, wrinkled, rough, their palms submerged under the layers of colours upon them. Their fingers reeking of bhang. Their crudeness dissolved into mirth as they brushed layer upon layer on her.
She could count only so much. Her cheeks had been draped and coated, her hair suffused with dust, her clothes clinging to her threadbare frame, her ears itchy, her forehead smeared, her head reeling as she soaked it all in.

It wasn't until Ammi came running with her stick and dark glasses that she realised how long had she been standing there.

It was the one day of the year when she did not need those appendages. She had felt all that she needed to see.

'Aaj rang hai ri ma, rang hai ri
More khwaja ke ghar rang hai ri'
( They are playing rang at my Lord's house today)
Ammi's record had been crooning all this while.

- Akshay

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