Hands firmly on her waist, she went around supervising the final preparations. Weeks of planning were finally about to materialise. It was going to be a big day for them and she didn’t want any last minute troubles.
“Richa, are the guns loaded?”
“Where’s Dipu? He’s our lead shooter and he is missing. Call him. Fast.”
“Here, show it to me first. No, this isn’t ready yet. Mix some more colour.”
“We need more balloons. I’ll go and fetch them.”
The little leader ran to her flat to get hold of more balloons.
All the hostelites were ready for the Holi celebration at the hostel grounds. Colours, thandai, and snacks- the preparations were made.
But Vaani was nowhere to be seen. Her room partner went to call her for the celebration.
“Hey! Vaani. What are you doing here? Everyone’s downstairs. Come.”
“I don’t like Holi. You go and have fun. I have some work to do.”
“C’mon, don’t be a spoilsport, dear.”
“Why don’t you understand? I am allergic to colours. It gives me rashes,” she said, shutting the door of her hostel room.
“You aren’t so excited even on your birthday, dear.”
“Mumma, it’s HOLI! I love Holi. I love colors.”
She took two packets of balloons and a bucket and ran down.
Smearing all her friends with colours and aiming water balloons at everyone, she ran around the ground, enjoying every moment of the day.
“Happy Holi,” someone shouted smearing her cheeks with gulaal from behind.
She turned around to see a man whose face was unrecognizable because of the black colour. Scared, she turned around to go towards her friends. He held her hand tightly.
“Please leave me. I want to go.”
He dragged her to a garage at the back of the building and pounced upon her.
She struggled beneath his weight and shouted for help. But, her cries were lost in the cacophony of the music blared out by the loudspeakers.
Hurt and bleeding, she was left unconscious in the garage for many hours.
Plugging in her earphones, Vaani shut all the doors and windows of her room. Even a glimpse of the coloured people sent chills down her spine.
She hated Holi.
She hated colours.
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