Along with everyone else, I too am feeling bit of a buzz, but perhaps a little less, because as much as I like cognac, I have my limit and also because my favorite is Remy Martin VSOP. Its smoother and lighter on the palate as compared to stronger and darker Hennessey XO. Beyond two or three shots, I stick to my beer and linger. Since I don’t play mahjong, I walk around with the beer glass in my hands, amazed at the whole scene, I just plain watch. The bride is still prodded and groped and manhandled. But she seems into it, fending for herself, but not really. Laughing and screaming  things in Chinese, which of course, I don’t understand.

Reminds me of what I had witnessed during the Holi festival years earlier in Bombay. There lived a Marwari family of five farther down the alley from our house, in a two room apartment. An older couple, their daughter and the son Gopal and his wife Radhika, to whom he was recently married. None of us had really seen Radhika face-to-face, except when the fabric of her carefully pulled down sari would inadvertently slip and we would catch a glimpse of her young face. She couldn’t be more than eighteen. Not a beauty, but ugly she wasn’t either. And for my thirteen or fourteen year old, she was an older woman with rounded limbs, and therefore quite desirable. Its Holi, India’s spring festival and everyone is out there with their syringe guns filled with colored water and hanging around their necks, the slings looking like pouches filled with dried and powdered color pigments – rung, with which to splash and smear whoever crossed your path.

I am approaching the Marwari family’s house and am about to pull the plunger of my syringe when I see Radhika, coming out of the house screaming, running and giggling, trying to defend herself from an attack from a young man, Gopal’s country cousin Manoj. He throws a splash of rang on her, she throws some back, but now he has caught her and holding her close against her faux protests while he brings fistful of rung and is struggling to put it inside her blouse. The end of the sari covering her face is askew, her palav is disheveled  revealing her naked midriff and her choli pulled up, wet and clinging, exposing the contours of her small breasts. They are rough housing, her trying to keep his hand away from her chest, his hand getting precariously closer and then his fingers pulling the fabric of her choli from the neck   and his hand shoving a fistful of green powder inside. Fighting hard and giggling hilariously like a little girl,  pulling herself back, she breaks loose. But Manoj puts his hand inside his sling and this time comes out with a fistful of purple dye. He has gotten hold of her again, Gopal watching intently and laughing, cheering her on, don’t let him, Radhika, push him back. But her little fists pounding on the cousin’s chest don’t do much. He has her pinned to him from her waist and is now lifting her sari and in one swift motion, he has reached between her legs and is rubbing the powder between her thighs. I’ll kill you. I’ll kill  you, she threatens and giggles and then either succeeds to push him away or he just lets go of her. They are both smeared and drenched all over looking like walking, talking and fitted tie-dyed outfits. Gopal is hilarious and so is Manoj, while Radhika though still giggling, busies herself straightening her choli and the sari, giving Gopal a twisted, but loving look and screams at Manoj: just you wait!!! Leaving my teenage body aroused and flustered.

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