24 March 2016

Colour Man Colour Man …Which Colour Do You Choose?

The colours are everywhere. On the greys of the footpath, the dull walls and bark of trees, on the blades of grass like evening mist. Brush the surface with your hand and the silky powder will cling to the pads of your palm, your finger tips. Dust from butterfly wings.Bring it to your face. Rub it on cheek, forehead and chin. Don't be hesitant. It's the beginning of Spring; The season of verdure and blossoms and colours. 

It is the night before holi but already the streets are strewn with abir. There are colours all around me but I am clear. The crescent moon burning ghostly sapphire is my colour in the dark as I walk through the night. 

The light burning unsteady from the window of a shop cuts through the darkness around. The string of bells over the ancient door tingles and a man enters inside. I stare at the flame with its flickering yellow light, in its shades of brilliant gold it burns its hues into my eyes; the colour of daybreak, fire and gold, the brilliant dazzle in darkness of the mind, the healer, the colour of the age old housespice, haldi..The air around me lifts with the bittersweet scents of turmeric and tinge of gold, shades of sun and fire. The golden glow of street lights and lights from the shops, blazes into flames as the seething yellow burns into my eyes. Colours, what is it you're trying to tell me? What is it you want to show? 

Suddenly I can see no more. I'm transported in my mind to another time. Yellow, the colour of old age and decay, of leaves crumpling in and faces withering, pale. Yellow dominates the scene as I open my eyes. I'm having a vision!  

The house is shabby, decrepit, lit only by the tired glow of the hearth. A child sitting in front of its flames is learning number­tables from an old school book. Electricity is still a seeming luxury it seems, and I strain my vision by the light of the furnace to make out its shape; a bed and a sickly figure wrapped in layers of tattered quilts,worn rough with age and use, coughing & cussing regrets of the yesteryears! The mother sitting beside the boy is making rotis by the fire of the hearth. The air ruffles the life of this household as the yellow flames flicker with a gust of wind brought in by the man as he opened the door to enter. He is the same man from the shop. Home now with groceries at half price payed to the seller after haggling for every paise. Inside his head is a maze of thoughts, of bills to pay & study fees & money for the medicines for his dying mother. Tired, he retires for the bed. ‘Had my food outside', he tells her as he skips his meal. His son will sleep with a full stomach tonight! 
   Of what colour is poverty?  

The vision fades out.
I wonder about the colour, the vision. Yellow: yellow in all its splendor and royalty, from golden spoons to sparkling crowns. Scraped first from the roots of that ancient herb, haldi. Yellow as the turmeric deemed sacred in pujas. Yellow smeared on the cheeks of brides for luck and love and to erase blemishes and wrinkles. The colour of youth and sunrise, the auspicious colour smudged as rituals on wrists and forehead by the purohit, burned with ghee and incense in fiery worship flames during yagnas, rubbed into the borders of wedding sarees. Anointment for death, hope for rebirth...Alas, the colour of poverty and dearth?

The wind blows in pauses against my face ruffling with my hair. I call to the other colours to show themselves. One by one, they manifest their being: Reds like the flamenco; They end up lipsticks in a drawer, all those wrong colors you thought looked so good in the package. Ruby red smiles and the blush of rose, the sky bleeding at sunset, and the shriek of hibiscus. Lusty reds like the liquid aftertaste of cherry crushed in mouth, the colour of sindoor on the black brides forehead or the choking silhouette sobbing in the dark alleyway, of the naked woman lying in the road or thrown of a bus, groped and held and had with greedy eyes and hands, lying in a pool of blood and disillusion, who held her cry in until red swam behind her eyelids like bleeding stars! 

When red fights with white, pink is always the winner. Love like always is the hearts ointment, balm on the wounds of old love's lament and hope for better luck this time.

What about emeralds? Green like the grass under your feet, colour of precious stones and jealousy, of leaves and vomit, of Whatsapp and betrayal. Green like his father’s face when he saw that man with their mother, green like the jeers of classmates when she left them. Green like feud of brothers, stealth, knives’ handles soggy with sweat. Of the serpents crawling into the heart’s garden, stealing it's fruits. You smear green onto your cheeks, delighted. I see colours everywhere, everywhere I see colours. There are the other hues too: purple, orange, blue and magenta and intermediary blends in between. My morning newspaper,fb newsfeed and surroundings are full of these and I feel suffocated in a certain cynical outburst. I won't let them put colours on me. Holi in the campus? Never. And they are scared; so they keep away! 

I thumb through the pages of Facebook and am drenched in a splash of gulal.  People decked in colours. Layers and layers of purple and orange and yellow and turquoise blue.Only flashes of white in their smiles. Poses, making grimaces. Ecstatic or Laughing their worries away. I can hear the rhymes of my schooldays: “Colour man, colour man…!” How happy & gleeful the images, yet how is it we never posed or clicked or flaunted on social media. I feel like a sinister killjoy disrupting fun and merrymaking with my cynism.  


Screams and shouts and celebrations! Today is the festival of colours! 
“Holi Hai!” “Yippie!” and “Rang barse” in the sterio!
Lets celebrate the colours of life, the shades of beauty!

Faking happiness. Faking smiles. 

Pretences in wild delirum  of euphoria

Cocking head at angles and casting side glances for narcissistic preservation in photographs. 

There is happiness everywhere and I feel like I'm living in a bubble.  

Children making bonfires;dancing and singing around it as if it would really burn the evil away. 

I realized that I have come a long way.

“No, no colours for me today please!”, I sigh as I send her away displeased. 

No colours for me today; I’ll wait for  springs to come!


A staunch bibliophile, a travel-head and an occasional painter, Ahona Das is pursuing her graduation in English from Presidency University, Kolkata. The columnist for ExPRESS Magazine is very interested in photography as well.

 Some of her other articles are as follows :- 

Don't grow up- It's a Trap

 The Realm of the Maharajas