As genuine believers of Gregorian Calendar for everything from Independence day to Republic day to Janmashtami et al, Tilaiyans’ Holi started at the stroke of midnight.
Whole dormitory will be asleep in bed but awake inside waiting for something unusual to happens. And we usually knew what that unusual will be.
Some enthusiastic and creative people like me would pour colour in the tanks that supplied water for morning rituals and have a great pleasure in imagining what some seniors would look beneath their clothes. Not to forget why the underwear was pink at the back.
Some would be planning secretly with the trusted people about the seniors who we had to avenge fir all their ‘wrongdoings’ while we were in 6,7,8th classes. When you reach 9th and 10th someone else would do the planning stuff.
And seniors who were the ‘wrongdoers’ which meant the most ‘report karna’ or ‘milna… After dinner’ speaking ones, would know in the heart of their hearts that they will go somewhere unpleasant.
They would clearly see themselves being dragged into the now nonexistent purple lily pool that had ‘Immortal Tilaiyans’ in the middle. Or for worse being thrown mercilessly in the pond besides the ‘Drona Kshetra’ which would have some creatures unknown to biology section guys.
Once our friend Zahid Ali was thrown in the fountain pool around Headmaster’s office and juniors went haywire throwing all the mud on him and, mostly, on the office walls. That made the office look like the blackboard of Mrinal Chakraborty sir’s art classes where we would practice ‘motif’ and still life paintings.
Headmaster emphatically blamed it on class 12th who were increasingly becoming infamous for all the wrong things happening on campus. We were very responsible as anything happened we would be held responsible. (old joke? Still works, though!)
Anyway, I along with Vivek and Bhawesh and others whitewashed the office before prep to prove in Gandhian way that we did not do that but because you think so we would make you happy.
Back to Holi, the campus would erupt at 12 all of a sudden and people will run bare hands in blue kurtas or with buckets in PT kit. Night generally belonged to seniors who will travel from ‘old building’ to Mithila-K Singh and then to the ‘new building’ to show they cared about each other and also, they had bought too much colour to last for two days.
Seniors would be done by next three hours and back to bed, most of them.
Come morning and ‘cute’ and ‘good looking’ juniors would be targeted by some to pour colour and rub gulal on cheeks. For many gulal was unimportant as only rubbing would suffice. Poor junior would never realise until 11 years later why he was the centre of attraction! We were a girl deprived campus. Good that I was neither cute nor interested in cutes when I was a senior.
Whole campus would look like a fancy dress competition went out of control. Peculiar and custom made dresses with equally innovative shoes. Some would pair a black leather shoe which had holes with white shorts and, may be, a mosquito net!
I did the mosquito net once. And carried that to the stage in class 11th to show my dress designing abilities.
Some will have blue kurta and nothing beneath. There would be a pair of shorts but invisible with red canvas shoes from NCC. And some would walk half naked. Who cares! Holi hai…
All the senior hunting, class mate bumping, hugs (and kisses on cheeks to cutes), running to catch a buddy would go on till around 10-11.
Just getting back, the breakfast will be the weirdest that day. No porridge, no chhola, no tea… Bullshit! Upma, water… Why? So that the boys would spare the mess by not throwing porridge on each other.
Around 10-11 whole school would march towards the Col Gadeok Stadium where all of us become very obedient as we would spot teachers and ‘authorities’ arriving. We would put gulal on their feet and seek blessings.
There would be one Mr Z Sayeed who would have a cotton soaked in ‘itra’ (scent) and he would rub that on all of our noses as we would rise after putting gulal on his feet to seek blessings. We all loved that moment. That scent would last long.
Then there will be a mike and loudspeaker at the elevated stage in the ground where students, teachers and ‘authorities’ will sing and dance. There would be ‘jogira’ as well.
Here the juniors would strike once more as it was the place where they could catch and ‘shikaar’ and execute their plans. A whole group of juniors will chase the senior and lift him up. It would look weird but felt comfortable until you are in the infamous pond near ‘Drona Kshetra’.
I was caught into this chase once. Not that I was the wrongdoing senior but I was the ‘funny’ guy of the school and juniors thought it would be fun to take on me.
Seeing the inevitable I gave up the chase and was lifted in the air but my classmates would ‘take it on ego’ (Tilaiyans’ phrase for ego par le lena) and they would pull me in other direction.
I was feeling like being torn in between as 10 juniors would pull me towards the pond and 10 classmates towards the gate. It went on for some 20 second and was getting pretty tough for me. Then I yelled and started abusing all of them and seeing that Ajeet ji got angry, juniors fled away. And I was saved.
I still cherish those moments. It was fun to be involved. The red soil, broken bricks that would scratch the body when thrown into lily pool, the dresses, the gulal and colours remind me if those few years which shaped me.
And that scent from Z Sayeed is still there on my nose.