Milind Parmar didn’t like playing Holi.
Why, you ask? No reason. He didn’t like to play, period.
Be that as it may, it was Holi-day, the festival of colours. Milind was not receptive of the idea that he should stay inside his house, all morning. Being a senior manager in one of the biggest IT firms in the city meant he could afford a good flat in an upmarket residential complex. Alone, he didn’t need a 2BHK flat. But heck, who cares? Milind took the lift and came down to the parking. He keyed in the ignition of his Harley Davidson Speed 750, and started out.
There were many buildings in the residential complex. Milind surmised that most families were playing in their buildings’ clusters. Although, and this slightly worried him as he looked straight ahead towards the main entrance, some folks were playing on the colony’s arterial route.
Milind wanted none of it, of course. The main avenue, like others, had trees lining it on both sides. The main difference was that while the rest of the routes were two-lane undivided roads, the main avenue was a proper 4-lane cobbled road. The promoters had advertised it as “a cobblestone pathway all through the residential complex.” However, the truth was far less deluxe. These were triangular-shaped bricks of cement. Less natural, much more artificial, like the whole city.
Milind saw a large group frolicking on to his left on the avenue. He shifted to the extreme right of the lane so as to avoid even becoming the collateral damage in someone else’s colour war.
He was now only around 100 metres away from the exit. He assiduously balanced his vision between the folks playing on the left and those driving their vehicles ahead of him.
50 metres more!
“Happy Holi sir!” He felt a splash of colour on his face and hands.
“What the…” he braked, and kept the bike stationary right beside the divider. His black t-shirt had colour all over the right arm and shoulder region, and there was some in his eyes too. He started wiping his eyebrows, anger rising within him.
“Who did this?” He bellowed.
“Sir, happy Holi.” He saw two guys coming towards him from the right side of the road, giggling.
Rookies from his office. He’d trained them two months ago.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Sir…today’s Holi. Please don’t get angry at least today.” One of the two spoke.
“Why did you colour me?”
“Sir, we thought…”
“…you thought I wanted to play Holi? If I had to, would I be riding away like this, uncoloured?”
Milind took a breath to calm himself down. He then spoke, the anger dissipating quickly, “Go now. Whatever has happened, has happened.”
“Sir, can I apply a tilak on your forehead?” One of the guys requested.
The bite was back in Milind’s voice. “Any necessity now to apply tilak?” He gestured towards himself with both hands.
The two men made for the crowd, muttering under their breath. Milind could hear faint obscenities. He shook his head, either to marvel at their stupidity in colouring him, or to have some of the colour fall from his hair. Vehicles were passing him by continuously. The people playing nearby didn’t take much note of the incident either.
Milind rode away.
Within minutes, he felt something eat at his heart. He reached a café and parked his bike there. Coffee and croissants for breakfast, he thought.
“I should’ve behaved better. They were only playing Holi.”
But the moment had passed, and Milind could only shake his head at his own temper tantrum.
A week later, he was in the office cafeteria, having brunch with an operations manager from another division. His eyes fell on someone entering the cafeteria.
It was the same guy who had thrown colour at him. Accompanying him was his partner-in-crime.
He noticed that they’d noticed him too. And before he could process it, they were already turning back.
“Arre…” he started.
“What happened?” The operations guy queried, looking from him to where his eyes were fixed.
Milind hesitated for a second before calling them out loudly.
“Hey, guys, here.”
The two stopped. But they still hadn’t turned around.
Milind asked his coffee partner to excuse him. He walked up to them.
“Err, guys, I…how about we have a seat together?”
“Um, it’s fine, sir.” The other one spoke first.
“We are going back to our cubicles. We have finished our walk.” The first one spoke now.
“Oh, no no, come, join me for a cup of tea, yeah?”
The two youngsters looked at each other, neither finding any sign in the other’s eyes that said there was a rebuttal coming.
“Okay.” One of them said. Led by Milind, the three walked to the table, now vacant because the operations manager had got up.
“I got a call from the boss, Milind. She wants some help. See ya,” he winked, and was gone.
The three remaining men sat at the table, unsure what to talk about.
“So, you’re Nadeem, and you’re…”
“Hah, like the famous music duo.” He laughed.
The two smiled, too bored of this punchline by now in their careers.
“So, umm, guys, I feel quite bad about what happened that day.”
“It was a mistake, sir. We shouldn’t have thrown colour at you like that.” Shravan spoke up.
“Yeah, you shouldn’t have,” Milind nodded assent.
“We are sorry about…” Shravan was finding it hard to meet Milind’s gaze.
“Oh, hell no. I am sorry about that.” Milind stopped him.
The two freshers looked up at him at the same time, their heads jerking upwards and backwards, eyebrows arching together in shock.
“I was too harsh on you two. I should have been, um, more understanding.”
“It’s fine, sir.” Nadeem blurted.
“I don’t think so.”
“Why don’t you guys join me for lunch? My treat.”
“Oh, it’s fine sir, really. No need for that.”
“Humour me, will you?” Milind nodded, a calm smile covering his face.
This post has been published as part of the Blogchatter A2Z. Featured image courtesy.
Thank you for reading.