Together is a wonderful place to be! When you have been brought up in a joint family, the concept of being together is woven in automatically and so beautifully, that staying alone in a nuclear family becomes an uncharted territory. Or perhaps it’s a scary thought. For me, it is! Since childhood days, our house has been flooded with people, not only because we lived in a joint family, but also because we socialised a lot. We had guests very often who would come and stay over. That wasn’t the only fun part. The ritual was to take them for outings and Mumbai darshan (read – entertainment, entertainment, entertainment!) and we all would have a rollicking time. I am a chirpy and bubbly person, so needless to say I would be the centre of all the dramatics that would take place. Those were the awesome days….
Then the inevitable happened… something that happens to most people, albeit a bit late for me. I got married! Marriage is the most wonderful thing to happen to anyone and I am lucky to be married to a like-minded, balanced and kind-hearted person. There has never been a dull moment since then. But, there was something that seemed to consume me and my soul. Not just the thought of leaving my parents and siblings and being on my own with my husband, but the thought of us being on our own, just the two of us – my husband and I. A nuclear family that consisted of two people, that too oceans apart. Yes, I was about to migrate to another country and we would be on our own. I was happy to be with my family till the time to bid good-bye arrived, but that nagging feeling was always there. It wouldn’t surface all the time, but it remained. I was almost looking for some reassurance that my family ties would be the same even if I was away, far away.
One day I was deep in thought, perhaps feeling sad again; and my mother announced that we were going to celebrate Holi together, at our new house. Together meant every single person in the family including my married siblings and their kids! Wow! Just that thought lifted my spirits and transported me into a bright and beautiful world. Yes, my husband wouldn’t be there, he would be the only one missing; but everyone else would be there. It had been years since we came together as one big family to celebrate a festival. Once siblings get married, they have their own families to look after, and their own homes to decorate for festivals. So being together had become a rare occurrence as someone would be missing always. Also, we hadn’t done a house-warming for the new house, so a small ceremony was in order. Holi – the beginning of the New Year for North Indians seemed the perfect day. The plan was made and all preparations done. We bought all bright colours, not just the customary gulal (red).
We completed the Holika Dahan ritual on the eve of Holi and headed towards the new house. We literally reached in the wee hours of morning, as we set out late and it was a long drive. We were tired and sleepy and wanted to hit the sack as soon as possible. Once at home, we arranged the beds since everyone was around and we called it a night at 3.30 a.m. The next morning was obviously not going to be an early one and for once my mother seemed okay with that thought. We slept soundly and peacefully knowing that each one of us was there and it was going to be a great day tomorrow.
The morning began at 8 a.m. finally with mom starting to give us a piece of her mind, as usual. Lazy lumps that we were, we totally deserved it. Hesitatingly we trudged out of bed, each one trying to bug the other! It was super fun. Finally, when all of us were awake, mom brought out piping hot tea and hot hot breakfast. Ours is a household where one gets to eat only after a shower and prayers. But today it was different and we got lucky. Mom was in a benevolent mood – I sensed she was just very happy that all her children were together under one roof. Also, it was Holi day and there was no point taking a shower as we would soon get dirty playing with colours. Slowly and gradually, we ate and we spoke. Ate less, spoke more. Once the eating was over, one by one, we all moved to one of the master bedrooms. We were constantly chatting, with dad being the centre of the conversation. Soon we forgot it was Holi, since we were so engrossed in talking. In the old house the day starts quite late. But here, by 10.30 a.m, we were through with most of the morning chores and had already spoken to each other for over two hours! Wow! It was quite something.
Suddenly, my brother reminded us that there was a society function for Holi and we also had to attend that. Some of us decided to go downstairs and join the folks and some were told to stay back home to accompany dad in the puja. However, one by one all of us went to the building garden, because we were curious to see how the celebrations were going on. It was outstanding. There was rain-dance (someone throwing water with a water-pipe) and people were swaying away to glory, faces and clothes totally smeared with colour. We were the ‘clean’ ones. For once, I had decided to wear white clothes. The moment we reached there, they caught us and coloured our faces. I happily allowed them to colour me as I hadn’t played Holi in years.We were all colored, tired, but happy this Holi in our new home enveloped in love. #lookup #together @Housing Click To Tweet
My phone rang at that moment and my sister announced that they were just around the corner and would be arriving any moment. We immediately braced ourselves, colour in hand, all set to paint them up completely. The moment my brother-in-law parked the car, my little nieces jumped out of the car and started throwing water balloons at us. My god, they seemed better prepared than us and we felt like complete fools standing there, all wet and the colour still in our hands. I yelled and ordered them to stop, but would they?! They continued their barrage of balloons till they lasted, and finally came our chance to throw colour at them. I thoroughly enjoyed smearing my brother-in-law’s face and hair with colour. He is a fair guy who turned red today, LOL. At that time the security guard shouted and ordered us to ‘get out’ of the car park and play in the garden. Well, we just went home, thinking that we were through with playing colours anyway. We reached home, and suddenly the house was buzzing with people. The atmosphere was electrifying. At one end in the living room, my parents and grandmother were doing the havan, and at the other end, we were talking aloud, joking, and having fun. We decided it was enough and it was time to ‘celebrate’ and what better than red wine to clink the glasses and raise a toast to a wonderful time with a wonderful family. Beautiful!
Once done, some of us decided it was time to shower and then have lunch together. We ate and then decided to rest for a while. It’s usually very hot on Holi and we really needed the rest thanks to the heat, the colours, water balloons and the wine. I ran and took my place and closed my eyes. Oh well, the story doesn’t end here. I thought most of the people were already asleep. But no, my brother-in-law stirred in his sleep, and thanks to the sweet drink, woke up abruptly thinking that we smeared him with colour while he was sleeping. No clue what gave him that impression since the rest of us had also huddled up in the same bedroom and were snoring away! He just got up all of a sudden and came towards me. I am a light sleeper and very sensitive about my surroundings, so even in sleep I knew there was something happening close to me. I just opened my eyes and lo! There was red colour all over me, I wasn’t even spared a moment to get up. The bed, the pillow, my hair, clothes, face… all had gone red. I begged him to stop saying it was enough, I was fully covered with colour; but my brothers and sisters came and started the same thing. And then there was a riot of colours. Very soon, all different colours started coming out of nowhere and one by one everyone was bathed in colours. We had become multi-coloured by then. It was a kaleidoscope! Crazy, hilarious, funny, irrational, insane times! I have summed this up in a few sentences but words fail me completely. I am speechless and cannot express the fun, the laughter, the love, the togetherness we shared in those two hours.
When things got a bit silent, we all had to shower and get ready once again. Get clean actually. We then slept for a while and woke up to a beautiful evening of conversation over chai. It was a beautiful day which taught me an important lesson and made me optimistic about my future life. Deep bonds never die; they remain forever, irrespective of distance! I am fortunate to have a family that makes me feel home anywhere and everywhere. It could just be a mere phone call and the distance of a thousand miles would be covered in a minute. Rest assured, on my own also, I would still be able to live a full life, in my home away from home. Yes I will miss my family, but are they really away from me?
I’d like to end with one of my favourite quotes:
“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” – Sarah Dessen, What Happened To Goodbye
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