I first met her as I went home to home giving facials. Holi facials. You see on Holi last year I blended up 3 pastes: beetroot and besan, haldi and besan and spinach and rice flour. And I went around our society, early in the morning, giving’ facials’ before anyone’s faces got spattered with factory-made chemical colours later in the day. As I went about from flat to flat I obviously got retaliatory multi-hued chemical spatters on my face. So by the time I went to her flat I did not resemble a ‘normal’ human anymore.
She opened the door and smiled. She lived alone; her son and grandchildren were in Belgium. It was the first week that she had moved into the flat. She seemed surprised to see a purple, green, and red splattered visitor, yet happy that she was able to participate in the festival. She did not come out and play with us in full force later in the day. Was she shy? Or did she feel odd to play Holi with strangers?
I had entered her home for the first time and it was Holi. She needed to feed me something sweet. Yet she was totally unprepared. She had nothing to give me. She went to the kitchen to get some sugar to put in my mouth. And she came out with a container of chewable multivitamin. She placed 2 multi vitamin tablets in my mouth. It is the only time I remember being fed multivitamins on occasion of a festival. We both started laughing. Somehow Holi felt like an Indian version of Halloween.
Trick or treat,
Smell my feet
Give me something good to eat.
Here she got a colourful facial and I got to eat something sweet.
I started to see her in her balcony every morning. She would watch me and my daughter play badminton at 6:30 am while waiting for the school bus. She would be sitting with a cup of tea in her balcony, watching us, smiling, lost in her own world. I made it a point to wave at her every morning.
Then last week I suddenly met her in the evening on the road. She was back from plucking flowers from a friend’s garden. The flowers were meant to be placed in front of the idols in her home. She broke into a smile as I approached her and said “Hello Aunty!”. I was dressed up: planning to go out for a jazz festival. She gave me a flower, a Swarna Champa out of her bag. I was touched to say the least. Here was a flower plucked for her gods. Yet she offered it to me instead. It smelt divine; beautiful perfume that matched my outfit. After a while, I kept the flower in my purse. It still is in there. Seeing it in my purse, every time I open it, somehow makes me feel happy. It reminds me of Holi.
Making friends and bringing a smile on people’s faces- Isn’t that what Holi is about? Happy Holi everyone!