Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Holi Hai Choli Kholo -- An Erotic Story

Das tells me that Holi is a very different festival in different parts of the country. He tells of his growing-up years in those parts of the northern Heartland where Holi is a festival that lasts a week or so, and the revellers get high on bhang, and fling mud and dung with impunity at passersby, and women run after men with brooms to thoroughly thrash them.

Das grew up as part of his elder brother's household, which was more prosperous than his father's, back in Calcutta. Das' brother -- we'll call him Mithilesh -- was a building, roads and works contractor, and often invited home minor bureaucrats for a couple of drinks and dinner. At those times, none of the children -- of whom Das was the eldest -- would come out into the sitting room. Only Mithilesh's wife would occasionally go out from the kitchen to refresh their drinks, and, at long last, to serve dinner. She always covered her head with her veil -- her ghunghat -- before going out into the presence of the menfolk. She would not speak unless spoken to, and then too, very softly and with monosyllables. Usually, she would just smile.

After two or three drinks, one of the men (and there were sometimes three or four of them sprawled rather than seated over the canework sofas) might address her tipsily. "Bhabhi... nobody mixes drinks like you, nobody cooks like you! Our Mithilesh... he's is a lucky man! Very lucky!"

Bhabhi would smile weakly. Sometimes she would glance up at Mithilesh and make a small piquant gesture that said many things, but mainly, "Mazak chodo bhi!".

Das remembers one memorable evening when she was kneeling on the marble floor after dinner, making her imitable paan. The gentleman guest cleared his throat and said, "Bhabhiji, Holi is coming... You have been avoiding us for two years now. This year we won't take no for an answer... you must play Holi!" And he looked at Mithilesh, who agreed gently, "He's right, Sumitra. I think you should go this year."

Bhabhi looked doubtful as she rolled the leaf around the tangy masalas, and offered it to her guest. "The child is still small... he still drinks milk..." she averred. "That's hardly an argument, Bhabhiji!" My wife played Holi every year, without fail, even when she was six months pregnant, and even when Chandu was less than a year old. Am I telling a lie, bhaisaab? You know I'm telling the truth!"

"I'll do whatever your bhaisaab says," she said modestly, blushing and drawing her pallu more tightly around herself, and almost running out of the room.

"Sharma gayee," Mithilesh laughed.

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Several days later, on the first day of the festival, Das returned home from a full morning of drenching and colouring. This year, his group had decided that they would not use mud, but rival gangs were flinging dung at them. It was nearing noon. He went straight to the bathroom and spent half an hour washing the colours out of his hair with warm water and Lifebuoy soap.

When he came out, he peered into the kitchen to see if lunch was ready. Bhabhi was nowhere to be seen, but the maharaj told him that she was dressing up, and asked if he could serve his plate.

And then Das heard the commotion downstairs... the mob of men calling. "Mithilesh! Where is bhabhi? Send her down!"

The master bedroom door opened, and bhabhi stepped out, dressed in a white saree, and without bindi, mangalsutra and all her usual paraphernalia.

White? But that was a symbol of widowhood, wasn't it? Das was taken aback, until he saw bhaiiya step out of the bedroom with a plate of red gulal. Tenderly, almost as if they were doing it for the first time, they daubed each other's forehead and cheeks with gulal.

And then she saw Das, and came and put the red powder on his freshly washed cheeks in a very motherly way. For the first time in his life, he rubbed a streak of gulal on her cheek.

She was looking at him with infinitely loving eyes. "You've become so big, so soon, dewarji!" she said softly. And then her pallu slid off her shoulders. Das glanced at her full cleavage, fully expecting her to cover herself again. But she didn't. With both her hands, she affectionately took his still gulal-smeared hands, and placed them over her cleavage, saying, "Mujhe rang do, dewarji. Colour me properly, so that nobody gets the feeling that my dewar does not love me!"

At that moment, the world seemed to stop. With his heart beating violently in his chest, Das glanced at his brother, who quickly looked away and went to the window. "Arre bhai, she's coming! Wait a bit!" he yelled to the waiting group. Then he joked, "
Should I come instead?" "Aapka kaam nahin hai, bhabhi ko jaldi bhejo!" a friend yelled from downstairs.

"Jaldi karo, dewarji!" said his sister-in-law in a low voice. Then, slowly, as if his hands had taken a life of their own, he smeared her white cotton blouse, and her breasts, with red, staring at his own finger marks upon her sacred flesh. He was aware of moaning softly as his hands kneaded her breasts for the first time, as she stood before him tenderly caressing his cheek.

And then she had walked out of the front door, gathering her pallu around her shoulders. As she went, it dawned on Das that for the first time, she had not worn her bra inside.

From a distance, he followed her down the stairs, where the first members of a mob of men waited. Seeing her walking calmly down the stairs, they began to cheer!

And then, somebody shouted, "Bhabhiji! Choli kholo!" And then they began to chant, "Holi hai, choli kholo!" Of course she didn't oblige, but when she reached them, the crowd of maybe 20 friends and neighbours quietened down a bit, and gently parted to let her come to their midst. And someone offered her a thali of gulal, from which she took a fistful and threw it at them. For the first time that morning, her solemnity melted and she broke into a laugh, and she threw another fistful, and then another! As the red cloud floated in the air, settling on people's faces and hair, one man stepped forward and smeared her cheeks and throat.

With his heart in his throat, Das watched as she slowly, smilingly, lowered her pallu again. And there were cheers as she gently reached for her blouse hooks, and then shook her head. "Nahin kholoongi! Tumhein jo karna hai, kar lo, lekin nahin kholoongi!" she said, laughing, challenging, as one man grabbed her around her soft belly from behind, and another -- a senior member of their neighbourhood committee -- began to mash her breasts with both his hands. Someone doused them all with three buckets of water from the terrace, poured in quick succession!

She looked down at her own blouse, now completely wet and transparent, and laughed with delight! Her hair hung down in streaks on her face, and she was feeling refreshingly cold. She waved to her husband, looking from the window, and laughed.

As the men -- her husbands trusted friends and neighbours, new and old -- pressed up against her ample thighs, hips and belly, and let their coloured hands roam all over her body, she closed her eyes and leaned back into their arms with a sigh. She knew that in keeping with an unspoken agreement that bound them all, they would go no further than the limits of her wet petticoat allowed, and that she was safe in their arms. Even as one of them finally opened her blouse, and she shrugged off the encumbrance and let it fall into the mud, and another reached into her petticoat front to remove the pleats that held her saree around her, she relaxed and caressed the wet hair of the young men who were now suckling at her breast like a child, and sipping the water dripping from the soft swell of her belly, her navel.

She revelled in the ideal of Eastern womanhood -- the heady power of a married woman to slake the thirst of all the men she knew.

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