Knock. Knock. Knock.
V was knocking on my door. And M’s. V and C used to live on the fifth floor. S uncle on the sixth, and he usually started the proceedings. So, they start from flat 606, knocking on each door as they come down. I was put up on fourth. And M was my immediate neighbor. As soon as I opened the door, I was green in my face. Quite literally. My dad and mom were red. Y’s mom on third floor wanted her son to be left alone. It was his board exams and I realized my mom would be speaking the same lines next year. All of us moved on.
We had a long corridor and it allowed us to form fine trajectories with our balloons. The ones filled previous night and the ones that survived their downfall from the 7th floor over the past one week. K’s throws on the second floor were the most lethal ones. K was never a sport. He used to be the only one to insist the kids call him bhaiyya. And the only one to yell at the kid when the poor thing wouldn’t take V’s wicket. The kid was 8 and V, 19 then.The P sisters lived on second floor too. The P sisters were the cutest and sweetest sisters. And turns out, they still are, as I found out last week.
The plan was to head to Decor after leaving the kids with their pichkaris. The way was filled with usual spotting. Got introduced to N’s sister, having no way to figure out how she actually looks. And meeting that girl from Mithibhai who was one of the serious victims of our balloons day before. M noted that she was considered to be the queen of Mithibai. Thank God, I did not go to Mithibai, I had said to myself.
The usual floor by floor visit happened in Decor too. There were the funny brothers with very interesting anecdotes, that deserve a post of their own, the maverick Aks and the little S, my nemesis A and couple of also rans. So A was the only one to join us in the next stop at Karthik. Now this was a long walk, through Lokhandwala Complex and, for A, the most interesting one. He would stop at Embassy to meet the queen of Bhavans(yeah, our neighborhood was cool like that), then a couple more at Ascot and Sunrise. On the way, the waiters at Mcdonalds and Dominos have to put up with our smearings and love.
The folks at Karthik had a lot of water. It used to gush out from the endless tubes running all across the dirty, wet concrete badminton court. You usually had no idea who was playing with you and who you were playing with. Whether it was the aunty or was it the daughter. Was it your dad’s manager or was it the watchman. These questions, though valid, never passed through your mind. It was Holi, and that’s all you cared about. And of course, it was time for revenge.
“Adi, that guy over there, seedha paanch balloons, aankh pe”, shouted C from the other end of the court. “Kaun Hai?”, I wanted to know the motive. “That’s R, jisne V ko caught and bowled kiya thaa. Yaad hai? Finals, Juhu wale tournament mein”, remembered C.
“Aah!”, I realized, picking up two balloons from the bucket and stood up. Whack! Pow! Thump! I was out cold, and there was a small fear, if I had just lost an eye.
V got married earlier this year. A is somewhere in Kolkata. I have no idea where M is. I think C does. C is in Hyderabad, designing graphics for films like Evan Almighty, The Hulk among others. I still have the picture of M, V, myself and our then watchman, Singh, that my mom clicked on the terrace. All of us in a collage of colors from head to toe, completely disfigured and unrecognizable. No wonder, Holi is the festival, I miss the most.