A Fairytale Holi: An Illusory Hamesha

The fresh air from the window seemed to clean his head of the residual effects of the bhaang and recollection came slowly.

         He couldn’t believe he’d let himself lose control like that. Submitted himself to her mercy like that. She was his enemy. And he’d let her see his weakest side.

         Arnav’s hands clenched into fists at the sound of his bedroom door opening. The tinkling of her payal. The clinking of her bangles. And then the door was closed again.

         Motionless.

         They both stood silently in their places for an infinite moment.

         And then Arnav turned to glare at her.

         The crystal-like tear streaming rapidly down the cheek he had stroked less than an hour ago, stopped him dead in his tracks.

         Pain shot through his chest and his heart clenched in torment.

         And when she raised her moisture laden eyes, he forgot everything. Everything she said. Everything he heard.

         Everything he’d felt before this moment.

         He staggered towards her for the second time that day. But unlike before, his fingers were not hesitant while finding hers. Nor was his other hand tentative as it brushed against her cheek, wiping away the offensive tear.

         And yet again with the silent question.

         Humaare dil…?

         He nodded reassuringly. Ek ho jaate hain.

         And then he was lowering his face to hers, without knowing what he was doing. Maybe the bhaang hadn’t really worn off yet.

         He stopped within an inch of her mouth, looking carefully into her eyes, seeking her permission. She seemed entranced and frozen. Unlikely to make a move. So Arnav prepared to retreat, disappointment filling his heart.

         But then her head moved infinitesimally towards his and as soon as he caught the movement, his mouth went crashing against hers.

         Hearts stopped. Then thundered.

         One took a sharp intake of breath and the other sighed.

         Hands rose to cup each other’s face.

         Lips danced.

         Breaths mingled.

         And time… seemed to cease existing.

         She kissed him with hesitation, then reckless abandon. With eagerness and long suppressed tenderness. With relief and a funny acidity.

         He kissed her with hesitation, then in a desperate search for reassurance. With eagerness and long-suppressed desire. With relief and a growing giddiness.

         When they broke apart for breath, Arnav felt like his world had turned a complete one-eighty. For the first time, he doubted his initial judgement.

         Opening his eyes to gaze reverently at Khushi’s flushed face, he wondered if their kiss had cleared his head of something more than the bhaang.

         And when she opened her eyes to reflect his fascinated look, he felt his resolve hardening.

         It wasn’t over yet. It could be alright. Perhaps she could be his. Perhaps there was more to the aisa kyun hota hai.” And he would find out what that more was.

         As he brushed his lips against hers for a second time, he decided to believe.

         Believe that maybe, maybe, hamesha wasn’t ruined yet. That maybe it was just hiding behind his curtain.

         Or behind Khushi’s yellow, translucent, fluttering dupatta.

 ~Diksha

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A Fairytale Holi: A Surreal Question

“Bataiye na… Aisa kyun hota hai?”

         The lump in Arnav’s throat was impossible to swallow. And Khushi’s helpless gaze impossible to look away from.

         It couldn’t be real.

         This moment.

         This feeling.

         Her question.

         Surely this was the product of his wishful thinking.

         Perhaps a manifestation of his stupor induced confusion.

         How well he knew ki aisa kyun hota hai.

         How desperately he wished ki aisa na hota.

         How dreadfully complicated things had become after he had realized ki aisa kyun hota hai.

         And now she was telling him ki aisa uske saath bhi hota hai?

         Khushi blinked sadly at him, waiting.

         And his heart was practically breaking.

         What difference did it make? If he told her? It wouldn’t change anything anyway. Would it? She wasn’t his.

         And he was a defeated man. At least where she was concerned. No amount of fighting would change his feelings for her. No number of cutting, mean words would make him hate her. So he might as well submit. Might as well confess his crime.

         Because what else was it but a crime? He had known love was nonsense. And yet, he had let himself fall for her. And now he was paying the price. Enduring his punishment. He had her within his arm’s reach. And she still wasn’t his.

         Arnav swallowed thickly, looking at the girl with a regretful intensity. The heat of his gaze made his eyes water. And simultaneously, so did hers.

         A catalytic reaction.

         That’s how they’d always been.

         She moves, he moves.

         He moves, she moves.

         She wasn’t his.

         But they were tied. With a thousand threads. Fine, like the strings of a spider’s web. They wound around their fingers. They shimmered in the darkness where the monsters lurked. Monsters desperate to pry them apart.

         She wasn’t his.

         But she’d just said ki aisa uske saath bhi hota hai.

         Confusion muddled Arnav’s head. His reaction floated to the bottoms of his consciousness. The bhang zapped electricity into his limbs.

         His hand reached out to grasp her face. Warm fingers stroked her pillow-soft cheeks and blood rushed to them as her eyes followed the trail of his fingertips.

         His lips moved of their own accord.

         Aisa kyun hota hai?

“Main batata hoon ki aisa kyun hota hai.”   

~Diksha

A Fairytale Holi: A Sun-Kissed Dance

Colours.

Laughter.

Friendly banter.

Music.

More colours.

Mithai.

Bhaang.

Drunken giggles.

Colours still.

Fun.

Frolicking.

Freaking soap opera.

Arnav’s thoughts had reduced to tiny phrases against each other inside his head while the deafening sound of the dhol thumped against his ears.

The morning had just begun and he was already exhausted. Not only was his patience paper thin with having to put up with his family’s drunken antics but he was restless with frustration at the lingering feel of Khushi’s gulaal-covered fingertips on his cheeks. Every time he closed his eyes, her deep, unsettled hazel hazel stared back at him, seeming to question him, to plead with  him about something. In the crystal ocean of her eyes, he had seen reflected the memories of those days just before Payal and Akash’s wedding. THEIR wedding.

It was funny. How easily he could sometimes forget everything else when he looked at her. Times like those when she was smiling with abandon. Laughing like she had no care in the world. Dancing like she was now.

The sunlight seemed to kiss Khushi’s pearlescent skin. It seemed to make her eyes twinkle. Her smile glimmer. It made her hair appear brown in the glow.

Arnav staggered towards Khushi, his unwavering gaze fixed on her face. The hints of a smile danced on his lips when she turned around to look at him. She knew he was there. She always did. He vaguely wondered how.

His hesitant fingers found her trembling ones, the only part of her that wasn’t frozen with surprise. She lowered her startled gaze to their hands at the first featherlight touch of his fingertips. Then, slowly, tentatively, he grasped her hand in his and she allowed her fingers to wrap around his.

Breathless anticipation whispered anxiously at him through her eyes when she raised her head to meet his gaze again. And there it was again. Her unspoken question. Her silent plea. Can we go back to how it was before?

The sparks of a dance on a sangeet night almost a lifetime ago, brushed their lips against his ears. Arnav’s knees went weak but Khushi watched his eyes soften.

Two hearts thudded loud enough to hear each other.

In a surreal movement, Arnav raised their linked hands above her head.

And then, she was twirling.

~Diksha

A Riot of Color

Holi-Festival-Of-Colors-Wallpaper-3

The streets here are filled with people. There is colored powder floating in the air. The sound of laughter has made the neighborhood come alive. There is heady excitement on everyone’s faces. Music drowns all other sound apart from one. The irregular repetition of a single phrase, delivered in a light-hearted voice, now from one’s mouth, now from another’s.

“Bura na mano, Holi hai!”

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