“Tomorrow is Holi!” Aditi’s friends Priyanka and Neil shouted excitedly after school finished for the day.
Aditi frowned. Neil knew that his friend disliked Holi as much as he hated eating spinach. Last year, they had covered Aditi in green and red, while she had screamed. The next three days, she didn’t talk to them. When they asked her why she was so angry, her answer was, ”All those colours
make me look funny.” This made everybody laugh, including Aditi’s father. “But Holi cannot be celebrated without colour!” Aditi still looked worried.
This year, her friends were ready with her two favourite colours pink and blue. The soft powders looked so pretty. How could Aditi not like them?
Neil and Priyanka came over early in the morning, with sweets and Holi colours. Aditi’s parents had kept two small buckets ready, along with some water guns (pichkaris). Everybody was wearing old clothes except
for Aditi’s sister, Raka, who liked to wear a new white frock every Holi. “The colours look so bright on it,” she explained.
They started by politely rubbing some powder on each others cheeks. Aditi was not in the garden. She was hiding somewhere in the house with
the family dog, Gulti. Gulti wasn’t scared of the Holi celebrations but she always gave Aditi company. ”Gulti is mostly black, so she knows that the
Holi colours will not show on her,” joked Aditi’s mother.
Soon, Priyanka became bored and started filling buckets with water and colour. Then she and Neil filled the water guns with the liquid, ready to get everybody wet.
They suddenly remembered Aditi. ”Let’s go look for her,” suggested Raka. ”Yes, go before you get all wet,” said her mother. “I don’t want the whole
house to get soaked.”
The children entered the house and searched the kitchen and dining room first because Aditi was never far from food. She wasn’t there. They looked in the bedrooms. She wasn’t there. They did not see Gulti either. Deciding to give up their search, they headed back outside. Play resumed until lunch time, when Aditi’s mother asked all of them to take baths. “Scrub yourselves,” she instructed. Neil grinned. ”Aunty, but then people will think I didn’t play Holi, he said. Raka handed him a big scrubbing brush.
When everybody was looking normal, except for their light pink and blue skin, lunch was served. They shouted loudly for Aditi to come down from wherever she was. A few minutes later,Gulti came down the stairs. She walked past them into the garden. Then they saw her run back into the
house and up the stairs. Aditi’s mother asked them to start eating. “Aditi will come out soon,” she added.
After they were full but ready for the sweet dish, Aditi’s mother let out a gasp, ”My carpet is blue!” They all ran over to see. Indeed, the carpet covering the staircase had blue patches on it. Raka pointed out that they were paw-shaped. They all spoke at once: Gulti! Priyanka, Neil and Raka ran up to find Gulti. Her paws needed to be wiped before everything turned blue. “Look, I see more paw prints,” Priyanka showed them. ”Lets follow them.”
They followed the marks to the roof, where they found Gulti. She didn’t greet them because her nose was inside a small packet. ”Oh no! Gulti
found some leftover colour,” Neil realised. Just then, they heard somebody sniffling behind the water tank. It was Aditi. Her arms and legs had blue colour on them, just like the carpet.
“I never should have let Gulti know my hiding place.” By this time, her parents had joined them. Her father patted the dog and said, ”Well, at least you played Holi with somebody.” They all laughed - even Aditi.
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)