A Holi she would never forget!
Rangoli looked up at the barren blue skies, occasionally filling up with a brief burst of colours.
It was Holi today, apparently. No one said to her. She understood that it was Holi today because people were shouting ‘Holi hai’ on the streets as they played among each other with colours.
But whether it was Holi or not, that didn’t make a difference in her life or her parents. She was living on the streets 24/7 and begging for scraps of food. Money didn’t allow her to buy even a smidgen of colours.
Most people would say that her family was the poorest of the poor. After all, her father worked as a seasonal labourer, and her mother collected garbage for selling.
As for her, she didn’t do anything except beg with a dented aluminium bowl, just like she was doing today, and she does almost every other day. So her days are not different from each other.
Generally, she didn’t feel so sad because she had her friends on regular days, but they somehow got hold of some colours and played in the streets today. They could have invited her too, she thought angrily. Little did she know that her anger would live for a few moments.
But before she could finish her thoughts, she heard a loud thunk and looked down to see some coins and two crisp 100-rupee notes falling into her bowl. Then, astonished, she looked up and saw a group of men.
“Here, take this,” the unknown man wearing a colour-stained shirt and blue jeans said as he gave her a packet of bright pink coloured powder to go with the money.
Rangoli was still dumbfounded and could say nothing but take the colour and look at the man with dumb-founded eyes. She did not know the man. She had never seen him! But the unknown saviour just smiled and said, “Kid have fun today.”
“But why..,” Rangoli began. She was amazed. More than that, she was scared that she had done something wrong or would something terrible happen to her?!
“I am actually a social worker. I saw you look at your friends with the saddest of eyes. So you know… this,” he gestured to the money.
“Today is Holi. No one should be sad today. I will come to meet you and your family tomorrow, kid. Have fun today.” He said before returning to the crowd where he must have come from.
Rangoli looked at the money and colour before quickly giving the money to her mother, who was cooking and went off to play with the other kids.
She didn’t know what a social worker was. But, today, her family would eat well and go to sleep with full bellies, Rangoli thought. Maybe just like the myth behind the festival, that kind man would help pull her family of 3 from darkness and into the light, at least for one day a year!
Was it a dream or a fantasy that illusioned Rangoli? Rangoli was not mature enough to think if that was a dream, and neither was her family. Yet, we all know it was a dream for many such underprivileged children worldwide. It is in the colourful hands to make their lives as colourful as Holi.
Chaturango wishes you all a beautiful Holi this year!
Wear beautiful colours in your sling bags all day long.
Holi is one of the biggest festivals in India and has been celebrated for over 1000 years!
It is fiction, and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, or a place or an object is purely coincidental.