Shivrathri is over, the mists begin to clear and the days get hotter.
Some Years it is the month of February, when everything around is dead, the trees are dark and chilled, that appearance of green shoots seems preposterous, the ground hard and cold, the dry heat somehow turns everything messy, the apology for a winter seem to hanging on too. other years it could be March days when the sunshine is hot the winds are confused, the summer is in the light and winter in the shade, dying waiting to be put rest.
The humdrum of a house, pounding of the spices for the year.
Kittadomma and Bhagi and the rest of the women are busy drying the mixture of Raagi and spices these sundried cakes will be deep fried for snacks or as a savoury during the rains.
Then pickling is on, year after year I have heard the prediction, ”Shivratri aayitu, innu sekhe shuru,” Shivarathri the day before the new moon of the month Maayi as per the Tulu calendar, these conversation would go on with the increasing heat,
Then there was the impending doom of the oncoming exams, one had study schedules set up and revisions going on, some teachers would want to us to put in extra time to make of the classes the they did not take during the term. There were also moments of escape when we planned post exam bonanza of a holiday of course everything hung on the grades that we made.
“The police have been alerted,” this was the conversation that floated from the living room, where the principle of the medical college was in conversation with senior faculty.
“We have told them not do anything unless it absolutely necessary” came from the management.
“These girls no matter how many times we tell them they refuse stay in the hostel; they strut outside and invite trouble.” Then it did seemed quite logical, if you are not safe on the roads, then don’t go out.
The conversation in the living room now fades as we go down for breakfast,
“Bhagi illa ivattu,” that is Bhagi won’t be coming for work today
“houdu, ivattu hozhi habba,” the festival is pronounced as an interesting combination of the phonetic la-yi.
My mother planning her evening visit to the Rayara Mutta, the chapel of Raghavendra Swami (who is believed to be the incarnation on Madhvacharya in turn an incarnation of Vayu Deva) Raghavendra Swami was believed to have been born on this day.
The first group of the Kunbi’s started trickling in, they would come in through the day, groups of young men and women, pleasantly tipsy just enough to knock the inhibitions off and they would play the “tamte” a percussion instruments the jagante, and do a hop skip and dance. After 3 minutes of this performance with a narration of the resurrection of Kamadeva in the Kunbi dialect, they would be given rice and coconut. This was interesting,
But the lurking police vans, were not, they heralded the impending doom of a curfew, they reminded us of the drunken vandalism that took place before, of girls requiring treatment to recover from the trauma of being molested, they reminded us of the libraries and labs vandalized by students from the other side of the Vindhya’s high on Cannabis…
The distant cry of “Holi hai” evoked uneasiness, and discomfort a kind of anger for being a woman, I had to stay home, because some guy could not hold his drink. Maybe this is what inspired the LathMar Holi of Mathura.
The sundown conversation would revolve round the invitation
from Pai-Uncle’s house for Shigmo, a very family oriented one unlike in Goa. the standard response to it, would be,”Howdalla innu hattu-hannedaru divasakke ondu male ittu” to the day I have not solved the mystery of why an invite for Shigmo elicits a response that in ten to twelve days we could have a shower. Then the conversation would drift towards the rain and other things, but yes I have noticed usually within a fortnight of Holi there is shower.
As for how am I going to Khul Ke Khelo Holi this year, I am working on the inner child created by the scars of Holi, I have picked up a canvas to rework an old concept, the hues and colours of life, the six seasons represented in six colours, the navarasa and its nine colours this should herald the spring in my life after a long winter, creativity and energy without mess… of course I refuse to clean up.