Yaoshang

Ruby
2016

Pink, yellow, green colours on the floors look like a dyed carpet. Mother has been trying to remove them, the maid too lending her possible hands as if it will forever prove as a bane for the looks of the house. The verandah seems to be a maiden who needs to be well-maintained before guests like visitors on a proposition for arranged marriage. I woke up, the new yellow dress I had been clad yesterday already warped. Just one thought demanding instant and anticipatory pleasure – the feast awaiting in today’s lunch. A celebration for a teamwork, so to say. It was two days after Yaoshang, while the memories are from years back. There was just a faint remnant of the festival to be seen in the fields from the burnt thatch amidst the freshly harvested grounds spread like rust on the ground. It has been Holi in national sense. The hamlet where we have been residing mingled within territories of the Bengali locality and us, Meiteis. And we also juggle between two houses like migratory birds. One in the blooming and brushing town side and another an ancestral home, where the Vaastu rule was mandatorily functioned in every corner. While staying in our town house, once an astrologer happened to barge in with no invitation. As conversations wreathed towards another topic, he happened to utter that Meiteis of Assam are crafty and clever instead of being honest as taken up by dint of a long intermingling with the neighbouring Bengalis. He seemed to proclaim himself a staunch Meitei from Manipur, the land from where we all are supposed to originate. That was funnily provocative, for we’re also autochthonous Meitei since birth. We follow every step of preparing ooti to a t. I was a little girl then. I could not afford to understand them. Those are like some statements common men happen to comment on how the Marwaris have an uncanny knack in business, pointing out hereditary good and bad aspects. Meanwhile, I don’t know what Meiteis are supposed to be, or what the other communities slyly comment from behind. I don’t mean to digress you off. This is just a short note. I remember my classmate in School asking me what our main festival was, to which I answered in spontaneous joy “Durga Puja. Undoubtedly it’s a big festival and we too celebrate it mainly!” She refused to take that answer since according to her, that was theirs mainly and primitively. Now this make me question about belonging and not belonging: an idea of identity sprawled over not just as an individual but a community-derived one. I’ve grown up to unharness the answer today and decipher the excitement of that day. I have left some marks of childhood behind, in my village. Measured beyond miles from there, I don’t play with colours of Holi now. It rushes like a normal holiday. For me, it’s not about playing with buckets or handful of variegated colours, it’s the compiled festivity of a whole Yaoshang in the community with the communities. As I write this, I hum my favourite Rabindra Sangeet. Ooti, rice and singju is for lunch today.