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All-out Paint War

About Shree

Shree is an IT Pro turned author since 2015. Her works include short stories collection 'Secret Expressions: Two Stories', novella 'Silent Invaders', which has entered the quarter finals of Screencraft Cinematic Story (for Hollywood) Contest 2017, and Bengali poetry book 'Onuronon', released in International Kolkata Book Fair 2018. Shree is a contributing author of 'Flock-The Journey' and 'Different Strokes'. Her upcoming anthology of love poems is 'Petals of Love'. She is a regular writer on several writing platforms, portals and magazines. One of her short stories has entered in 'The Hindu Lit for Life' contest.

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Prologue

 

The Festival of Holi – aka an all-out paint war!

For most of the Indians it is the biggest festival of the year. In Bengal the festival has several glorified names such as ‘Dol Yatra’ and ‘Boshonto Utsob’. It symbolises the advent of spring – the season of colours and blossoming love. Quite naturally it is the favourite festival of many. It used to be my favourite too – I simply loved the madness of the festival. Chasing everyone with packets of dry powdered paint called ‘abeer’, splashing each other with neon bright coloured water using spraying guns called ‘pichkari’ and getting drenched with colours randomly. It’s really freaking fun!

The significance of Dol Yatra, like any other festival, is victory of good over evil, igniting colours of love amongst not only soul-mates but the entire family and friends. It’s a time for people to play, laugh, make friends and forget about their worries or enmities.

Well, as we all know Holi is not only about colours, foods, parades and concerts. The event is not free of intoxication and its side effects. Most people get intoxicated and high by consuming Bhang, which is a regular drink made out of the leaves and flower tops of cannabis during Holi. People can remain stoned for hours after having bhang.

Now, these crazy all-out paint war and everyone stoned out of their minds, remind me of a horrendous incident from my childhood.

 

Part 1

When I was little, I used to sometimes visit my paternal uncle and aunt’s house in the outskirts of Kolkata, which was kind of an ancestral home for our family. People thronged to that house during Holi in huge numbers. It was so because my cousin brothers and sisters, who were pretty older than me, had several friends, who in turn brought their friends to celebrate the festival together and with grandeur. I was a little girl, hardly nine or ten. All the cousins and friends of my age played under the supervision of our mothers. We were instructed to finish off our share of playing with colours by twelve noon, wash ourselves and have our lunch in time. I had to follow the rules although I was always eager to play more. We kids had our grand lunch and went upstairs in our rooms to rest.

Most of the cousins were knocked out as soon as they hit the bed as they were but naturally tired. My eyelids were heavy too and was almost shutting down when I was distracted by some commotion in the backyard. I tried not to pay attention. I covered my ears with a pillow and tried my best to sleep. But the voices were raising gradually and the noise completely woke me up. I carefully crept out of the bed, went near the window, twitched the corner of the long curtain and peeked through.

A group of about five or six young lads were arguing about something. They were all covered with colours, hence were not recognizable. On top of that they were all swooning this way or that and could not stand still. I supposed it was the impact of bhang. They were blabbering away to convince each other on something they wanted to undertake on that afternoon furtively. They were too much intoxicated to speak clearly. But one thing I could make out, which they repeatedly said, ” Bring over the girl quickly! They all agreed on this and brought out a young girl of probably fifteen or sixteen years old from the small store-room near the boundary of the house-yard. She looked like a gypsy dancer to me. She was blind-folded, mouth capped, hands tied at her back. The lads, one by one, used the back gate to sneak out of the boundary and ended up in an abandoned and unnoticed farmland, which I could overlook from the window upstairs, unfortunately.

They pushed the girl into that farmland and hurled her onto a bed of old straws, which were piled up in a neglected corner of the land. Then the boys freed the girl of all her bondages except her hands, which were still tied. They forced her to drink something from a dark bottle, which I had no idea what it could be. The girl refused but nobody cared. The girl was fighting to escape but the boys grabbed her as tightly as possible. They gradually took off her lose clothings, like her scarf and an embroidered little koti (small sleeveless jacket). They also tore the jasmine garland she used to decorate her braided hair. The girl was resisting but was unable to battle the boys. Her screams were drowned by the loud cheers of the lads at their exploration of her mouth, lips, tongue and her private parts. They groped her mouth and ripped open her blouse. Two other lads laughed like monsters and started to press her bosom mercilessly. Others attacked her from her legs, pulling and tearing her long beaded skirt to show her olive, fleshy thighs.

Part 2

Somebody splattered some colours on her bare abdomen and tried to pull down the waistband of the skirt to expose her perfectly shaped waist and the pretty bellybutton. The shaky and trembling hands of the lads were working in and out of the girl’s underpants. They were moaning and drooling all over her body while she was yelling her lungs out, her tears washing away the kohl in her eyes, flowing over her cheeks, nose and mouth. But the entire neighbourhood was so much engrossed in the celebration, merriment and laughter, that her shrieks did not reach anybody.

My innocent mind had no clue why the boys were torturing the girl, but I could still make out that what was happening was completely wrong! I was baffled, did not know what to do. My eyes were gaped, jaws were hung and body was thoroughly transfixed in horror. I was that much dumbstruck that I could not fathom that one of the guys was noticing me from the location of the incident and trying to recognize me. By the time I realised, they left the girl, battered, shattered and wounded, physically and cerebrally, and fled the spot.

The gala evening get-together was yet to begin in the house. I was intensely terrified and speechless since I had witnessed the heinous episode. It was extremely disturbing, especially for me, as I was always very quiet, submissive, peace-loving and entirely non-violent as a child. Compared to other children of my age, I was more naive and less worldly. Hence watching that atrocious scene entirely petrified me and stormed my brain with a huge amount of wrathful curiosities, which I was unable to share with anybody. The pleasant smile from my face had totally disappeared.

My mother helped me to dress up in a very pretty frilly frock for the evening get-together. She hugged and kissed me and said, “No evil eye should gaze on you. I suddenly became aware of my feminity, physically. After my mother left the room, I watched myself in the mirror. I watched my female parts carefully. I did not match the physique of the other girls of my age. Rather I was taller and more or less similar to the girl who was tormented in the farmland that afternoon, although my face looked much younger than my body. Was that the reason why mother was always extra careful about my whereabouts? Was that the reason why she was scared of “evil eyes”? I was gradually drowning in a pool of questions and reasons when abruptly I jumped by a tap on my shoulder.

It was my eldest cousin brother in that house. He smiled at me in an unfamiliar way. I had already began to feel uncomfortable by any male presence and touch, due to the impact of my experience. My brother was running his fingers around my face, and told me in our language, “Wipe off everything from your memory about this afternoon, alright sis? Otherwise, you will suffer the same consequence. You are an intelligent girl, so remember my words, okay?”

He was about to cuddle me, when I freed myself from him and sped to disappear from his sight.
I could never express my plight to anybody at that tender age, but I made sure never to visit my ancestral home in future to celebrate “Holi” – an all-out paint war – an all-out existence war!

The Festival of Holi – aka an all-out paint war!

For most of the Indians it is the biggest festival of the year. In Bengal the festival has several glorified names such as ‘Dol Yatra’ and ‘Boshonto Utsob’. It symbolises the advent of spring – the season of colours and blossoming love. Quite naturally it is the favourite festival of many. It used to be my favourite too – I simply loved the madness of the festival. Chasing everyone with packets of dry powdered paint called ‘abeer’, splashing each other with neon bright coloured water using spraying guns called ‘pichkari’ and getting drenched with colours randomly. It’s really freaking fun!

The significance of Dol Yatra, like any other festival, is victory of good over evil, igniting colours of love amongst not only soul-mates but the entire family and friends. It’s a time for people to play, laugh, make friends and forget about their worries or enmities.

Well, as we all know Holi is not only about colours, foods, parades and concerts. The event is not free of intoxication and its side effects. Most people get intoxicated and high by consuming Bhang, which is a regular drink made out of the leaves and flower tops of cannabis during Holi. People can remain stoned for hours after having bhang.

Now, these crazy all-out paint war and everyone stoned out of their minds, remind me of a horrendous incident from my childhood.

When I was little, I used to sometimes visit my paternal uncle and aunt’s house in the outskirts of Kolkata, which was kind of an ancestral home for our family. People thronged to that house during Holi in huge numbers. It was so because my cousin brothers and sisters, who were pretty older than me, had several friends, who in turn brought their friends to celebrate the festival together and with grandeur. I was a little girl, hardly nine or ten. All the cousins and friends of my age played under the supervision of our mothers. We were instructed to finish off our share of playing with colours by twelve noon, wash ourselves and have our lunch in time. I had to follow the rules although I was always eager to play more. We kids had our grand lunch and went upstairs in our rooms to rest.

Most of the cousins were knocked out as soon as they hit the bed as they were but naturally tired. My eyelids were heavy too and was almost shutting down when I was distracted by some commotion in the backyard. I tried not to pay attention. I covered my ears with a pillow and tried my best to sleep. But the voices were raising gradually and the noise completely woke me up. I carefully crept out of the bed, went near the window, twitched the corner of the long curtain and peeked through.

A group of about five or six young lads were arguing about something. They were all covered with colours, hence were not recognizable. On top of that they were all swooning this way or that and could not stand still. I supposed it was the impact of bhang. They were blabbering away to convince each other on something they wanted to undertake on that afternoon furtively. They were too much intoxicated to speak clearly. But one thing I could make out, which they repeatedly said, ” Bring over the girl quickly! They all agreed on this and brought out a young girl of probably fifteen or sixteen years old from the small store-room near the boundary of the house-yard. She looked like a gypsy dancer to me. She was blind-folded, mouth capped, hands tied at her back. The lads, one by one, used the back gate to sneak out of the boundary and ended up in an abandoned and unnoticed farmland, which I could overlook from the window upstairs, unfortunately.

They pushed the girl into that farmland and hurled her onto a bed of old straws, which were piled up in a neglected corner of the land. Then the boys freed the girl of all her bondages except her hands, which were still tied. They forced her to drink something from a dark bottle, which I had no idea what it could be. The girl refused but nobody cared. The girl was fighting to escape but the boys grabbed her as tightly as possible. They gradually took off her lose clothings, like her scarf and an embroidered little koti (small sleeveless jacket). They also tore the jasmine garland she used to decorate her braided hair. The girl was resisting but was unable to battle the boys. Her screams were drowned by the loud cheers of the lads at their exploration of her mouth, lips, tongue and her private parts. They groped her mouth and ripped open her blouse. Two other lads laughed like monsters and started to press her bosom mercilessly. Others attacked her from her legs, pulling and tearing her long beaded skirt to show her olive, fleshy thighs.

 

Continued in Part 2 …

Somebody splattered some colours on her bare abdomen and tried to pull down the waistband of the skirt to expose her perfectly shaped waist and the pretty bellybutton. The shaky and trembling hands of the lads were working in and out of the girl’s underpants. They were moaning and drooling all over her body while she was yelling her lungs out, her tears washing away the kohl in her eyes, flowing over her cheeks, nose and mouth. But the entire neighbourhood was so much engrossed in the celebration, merriment and laughter, that her shrieks did not reach anybody.

My innocent mind had no clue why the boys were torturing the girl, but I could still make out that what was happening was completely wrong! I was baffled, did not know what to do. My eyes were gaped, jaws were hung and body was thoroughly transfixed in horror. I was that much dumbstruck that I could not fathom that one of the guys was noticing me from the location of the incident and trying to recognize me. By the time I realised, they left the girl, battered, shattered and wounded, physically and cerebrally, and fled the spot.

The gala evening get-together was yet to begin in the house. I was intensely terrified and speechless since I had witnessed the heinous episode. It was extremely disturbing, especially for me, as I was always very quiet, submissive, peace-loving and entirely non-violent as a child. Compared to other children of my age, I was more naive and less worldly. Hence watching that atrocious scene entirely petrified me and stormed my brain with a huge amount of wrathful curiosities, which I was unable to share with anybody. The pleasant smile from my face had totally disappeared.

My mother helped me to dress up in a very pretty frilly frock for the evening get-together. She hugged and kissed me and said, “No evil eye should gaze on you. I suddenly became aware of my feminity, physically. After my mother left the room, I watched myself in the mirror. I watched my female parts carefully. I did not match the physique of the other girls of my age. Rather I was taller and more or less similar to the girl who was tormented in the farmland that afternoon, although my face looked much younger than my body. Was that the reason why mother was always extra careful about my whereabouts? Was that the reason why she was scared of “evil eyes”? I was gradually drowning in a pool of questions and reasons when abruptly I jumped by a tap on my shoulder.

It was my eldest cousin brother in that house. He smiled at me in an unfamiliar way. I had already began to feel uncomfortable by any male presence and touch, due to the impact of my experience. My brother was running his fingers around my face, and told me in our language, “Wipe off everything from your memory about this afternoon, alright sis? Otherwise, you will suffer the same consequence. You are an intelligent girl, so remember my words, okay?”

He was about to cuddle me, when I freed myself from him and sped to disappear from his sight.
I could never express my plight to anybody at that tender age, but I made sure never to visit my ancestral home in future to celebrate “Holi” – an all-out paint war – an all-out existence war!

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