This year’s Holi was most memorable, a double joy, being also my wife’s birthday. Meeting people added colour to the morning-to-night party.
At 7.30am, I took out my bicycle for a round of exercise and greeting people. The first people I met was the dentist Nagpal couple, having a stroll in front of their house. On the staff road, I shook hands with our army jawans on duty and called out “Holi Mubarak!” as I cycled past the newspaper boys.
Past topkhana (artillery), Gurdwara Panjokhara Sahib, and the woods, I spotted some labourers at a house-construction site and asked them: “Working even today? Not playing Holi with your families?” They kept quiet and their faces fell. I headed home straight and returned with gujhias and laddoos for them. Their faces lit up. I shared the sweets with even the carpenters at work in the same neighbourhood.
Energised by over an hour of cycling, I joined my better half, Madhu, in sending sweets attached with personal notes to our Defence Colony neighbours (major general AS Klair; brigadiers MMS Datta, AS Puri and Indu Kanwar; colonels RS Bajwa and Harpal Singh; air commodore Ujjagar Singh; and Mrs BP Singh, our cavalry lady staying with her son, Himanshu). The response was so nice.
At 10 am, after watering plants and picking up polythene waste from in front of the house, I started my son Aniket’s Thunderbird to charge the battery (he is posted in Ladakh).
In the midst of the rhythmic heartbeat of Royal Enfield Bullet, I heard the beat of dholak and there arrived a colourful group at our door, asking for “holi ka chanda”. Madhu gave them sweets and some money. Now it was time to play with colours and the first to be “decorated” were our domestic helps and friends.
Madhu’s students and school colleagues kept calling her to pass on their good wishes. My regimental officers, JCOs, jawans, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) friends, and relatives from village also rang me up. As always, Rameshwar, my old buddy from the unit, whose daughter has made it to the Border Security Force (BSF), was among the callers. Our children sent over a cake and bouquet for Madhu. They had planned it secretly. My wife cut the cake and shared it with all.
The lunch was delicious and appropriate to the occasion — halwa-poori, curry wali aloo ki sabji, channa, and dahi-bhalla with sweet chutney. In the evening, I took the family out to dinner and movie. Back home, we had long, happy family chat about the day’s events. What a sound sleep I had after that.
(The writer is a retired defence officer based in Ambala Cantt)