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THE FLOATING DIARY (Short Story Journal – 38): HAPPY HOLI

HOLIKA DAHAN marks the end of a Hollowness and HOLI defines the melody of life

Before I speak anything about the above lines, let me note down my subtle experience surrounding it.

HOLI, the festival of color, brings a strange nostalgia in my heart. Today, as I looked out from veranda, I saw little children playing with vibrant colors and enjoying the festival to the fullest. A sudden nostalgia gripped my sentiment as my mind flew away to the years when Baba used to bring colors for me and I used to jump around him in a childish frenzy with ecstasy! I had thought that those years, those memories, those moments would always remain etched in my mind forever. However, my ailment makes me nervous. Soon, this dementia would erase everything and fill my head with a hollowness which I am really afraid of.

“Will I forget everything? Will all these beautiful experiences vanish from my heart and create a blank hollow?” I asked Aunt Padma with a sardonic expression.

Aunt Padma perhaps understood my discomfort and told me, “Pravin, let us go to Gokuldham, the Ashram of my guru Shri Dayanand Swami. I wanted to visit him for a long time, but could not make it in all these years. Guruji was my driving force through all the tragedies in my life. Even at his present age, his words are like magic and I am sure you would like interacting with him.”

I agreed to her proposition and within the next two hours we were on our way to the suburbs. It took us a total of three hours to reach Gokuldham, the Ashram of Guru Dayanand Swami. I was a bit skeptical about how the day would turn out to be, as I was not very keen on religious learnings. I wanted to easy my mid and the open landscape of the suburbs was a genuine option for it.

My first impression of Shri Dayanand Swami was not repulsive. In fact, I quite liked him. The octogenarian had a serene face and appearance that matched with his simple yet magnetic personality. Aunt Padma met him, introduced me and then went away inside the huge campus to rejuvenate her soul. I sat in front of Guruji and looked at his face. My inhibitions got slowly removed as Dayanand Swami didn’t engage in any kind of teaching with me. A sweet tune, played on a Flute, was floating around in the air. It was not recorded music. Somebody was actually playing a placid tune on flute somewhere.

I asked, “Guruji, who is playing the flute? It is such a beautiful melody.”

Guruji looked at me and said, “Listen to it with closed eyes. You would feel all your anxiety disappear soon.”

I replied, “Guruji, my anxiety is not so simple. Perhaps, you don’t know about my current state. It is an hollowness emanating out of my impending amnesia that is eating away my entire existence!”

Guruji got up from his seat, held my hand and took me near the window. He pointed his finger to a hut, within the campus, at a distance and I looked in that direction. Although nothing was visible, but I could understand that the melody was coming from that direction.

Guruji smiled a bit and said, “That is Ramu’s hut. Ramu is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives here in Gokuldham. He has been living with us for the last five years. Let me tell you something about him…”

I looked at Guruji and stood beside him with a sudden eagerness. Guruji continued, “Ramu belongs to a remote village where he used to live with his parents. His father was a farmer. The little boy used to love playing the flute and lived happily. Five years ago, during the HOLIKA DAHAN festival, a politically induced unrest erupted in his village and some antisocial people burnt down many houses in the village! There was complete mayhem and many villagers lost their lives! Ramu’s parents were burnt alive in that catastrophe, in front of his eyes and at that tender age, Ramu was seriously injured and traumatized beyond imagination. As an impact of the disaster, Ramu lost his speaking and hearing abilities and became completely mute! A month later, some social workers brought him here.”

I felt a pang in my heart and listened to Guruji while he spoke, “From then, till now, I have cared for him like my family here in Gokuldham. However, his ability to hear and speak remains curtailed forever! There is a hollowness in him that is unfathomable and he stays in that small hut, all by himself.”

Guruji took a pause and then began again, “Even though he participates in all activities of Gokuldham, there is a hidden pain inside him that has not healed, perhaps! However, something wonderful happens on this day, on HOLI…”

“What?” I asked with eyes full of wonder.

“A day before HOLI, from the time of HOLIKA DAHAN, this mute boy plays such a heart wrenching melody on his flute that fills the air around Gokuldham! Nobody knows how he manages to do it! No science can explain it! However, he does it. What you are listening to is the tune of his flute that he will play throughout this day! Perhaps, it is his divine celebration of HOLI, with his impaired soul!”

Guruji closed his eyes and said, “Hollowness or emptiness is the source! At times I wonder, his flute is just like Ramu. It is hollow from within. However, this hollowness created within this piece of dead wood that gives birth to such wonderful tune! Similarly, the hollowness within Ramu, enables him to create the beautiful melody with his flute! The hollowness within you, Pravin, would be your strength to things that are beyond your imagination! Don’t consider it as your curse… It is a creation of destiny that will redefine you!”

“Finally, what is HOLI?” asked Guruji.

I remained speechless while he answered his own question, “Mother Nature removes all colors from Earth in winter and creates a hollow. However, the arrival of Spring, creates the beauty of colors from within that hollow! HOLIKA DAHAN marks the end of that hollowness and HOLI defines the melody of life!”

I smiled and replied, “Thank you Guruji. This was a completely new realization for me and gives me he strength to understand myself. Indeed, my hollowness will redefine me and not terminate me.”

Before leaving, I met Ramu at his hut. I touched his head, with all my love. I couldn’t stand in front of him for long. His eyes were so expressive that my heart started to weep. I smiled and came out with Guruji.

Aunt Padma and I walked out and got inside the car. She looked at me and said lovingly, “HAPPY HOLI.”


This post first appeared on THE FLOATING DIARY, please read the originial post: here

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THE FLOATING DIARY (Short Story Journal – 38): HAPPY HOLI

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