Clash of Heads

All streets echoed with music. As Ranjit got down the staircase he reminisced how the streets used to be packed with kids and youngsters, both in body and at heart. People now take to their rooftops rather than the streets to give each other eccentric makeovers on Holi.

There was a small celebration on the porch of his society. It was time to mark his attendance, and he made sure to be noticed by the camera-wielding personnel. It was an easy job, for almost everyone was clicking pictures. Another change brought about by the moving time. Once he was done meeting his acquaintances, putting some gulaal on them, and got his picture clicked with all of them, he headed for his friend’s a few blocks away for their Holi celebration. A small stream wet his head as he was about to sit down on his motorbike. The kid with the squirt gun felt flustered when Ranjit turned his head up, but his smile allayed the little one.

“It used to be water balloons and eggs when I was a kid,” said Vipin as he put a helmet on Ranjit’s upturned head and took his seat behind him.

“Glad that times have changed!” said Ranjit before speeding away.

Delhi streets were much less congested but the traffic was as erratic and dangerous as could be. Overladen two-wheelers with multi-coloured individuals gave birth to crass cacophonies through horns and trumpets. Traffic policemen tried ousting them with their whistles and animated gestures but they were no match. Ranjit had to accelerate past one himself when helmet-less Vipin was spotted. The pillion rider sounded their victory by blowing on his trumpet as loud as he could.

“Hurry up, everyone is already well in the mood!” said Vipin as Ranjit parked the motorbike.

“What makes you say that?” he asked.

“The stereo’s blasting Amitabh Bachchan and Anu Malik’s songs, and I hear shrieks and laughter; telltale signs of drunken youngsters on Holi!”

The moment Ranjit took his helmet off a water balloon hit his face. He struggled to breathe for a couple of seconds but didn’t really mind it much, for it helped wash away some of the gulaal. The fact that Vipin was hit with a couple of eggs made it even easier to handle. The duo looked up to find their friends cheering and welcoming them from the rooftop.

They were in as merry a mood as their friends the moment they entered, but it would have been rude, said Vipin, if they didn’t match their friends’ blood alcohol level, so they downed a few drinks in the duration of a single song. It gave them the rush to go around the sizeable terrace spraying water, smearing colours, and ripping everyone’s shirts, female contingent excluded.

“I like this combination the best. It makes it so much easier to pee unnoticed,” said Roshan when they had all taken a seat to rest. Roshan was the clown of the group so he could get away with saying almost anything. The fact that he had an IQ close to 200 and was a great elocutionist made anyone wary of challenging him. Everyone merely laughed and looked at his crotch.

“You mean you’ve been peeing all this time?” said Vipin.

“Oh yes!” he said.

“But why?” asked Ranjit, barely managing between his bout of laughter.

“Well, there’s drinking and water spraying and a cool breeze toying with my drenched body. It’s difficult not to pee, if you ask me,” said Roshan in an expostulating manner. Like all great comedians, he had the impressive ability to maintain a straight face while saying the most absurd things.

“Wow, you make it sound as commonplace as pissing while swimming!” said the guy sitting next to Ranjit. A few people grimaced and giggled at the remark.

“The trick is to time it well. When someone sprays you, you let go. Remarkable thing water, washes away everything. But the timing is important. There’s always someone watching,” said Roshan, nodding while looking at Ranjit. It was the cue for the guy standing behind Ranjit to pour some liquid on his pants.

“Ohh, it’s hot!” yelped Ranjit.

“Pee is supposed to make you feel warm, baby-boy. Hot mountain dew really does the trick!” said Roshan, chuckling. The others burst in laughter as Ranjit sprang to his feet and hopped about trying to ride out the burning sensation. A couple of them started recording him. “Let’s see how long he can make us cackle!”

“He can go on forever!” said Vipin as the others guffawed. Ranjit, though, proved his roommate wrong. It all happened in a few seconds.

Ranjit himself couldn’t help but laugh a bit at first. He became silent a minute later, though, when luck wanted to have its usual share of enjoyment at his expense and he tripped on his lace. Even more unfortunate was the lady who was just getting up but got head-butted by the jumping Ranjit. The clash of heads was loud enough to be heard over the music. They had timed it perfectly.

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