Festival of Love
by KM Zafari
I dream of you sometimes. We are back in Mumbai, and I am getting a shave at a roadside stand.
“There’s something I never told you,” I say. “A secret.”
“After 30 years?” you ask.
“Yes,” I say and begin my confession. “The truth is, we didn’t meet at the Holi festival by chance. The first time I saw you, I was sitting in this very spot. I caught your reflection in the mirror as you passed by. You were impossible to miss – tall, sandy blond hair, looking more like you should be shooting surfers in Sydney than at a Hindu celebration.”
I tell you that I knew I was too plain to capture your attention and how I assumed you were there to photograph the festivities, so I searched for you in the crowds, hoping that the color, the magic of Holi would bring you to me. I tell you how happy I was that I was right and that I would marry you all over again.
You look a little teary, so I lament about how much my reflection has changed, and how you’ve aged so much better than I.
You stroke what’s left of my hair gently and tell me that I still look good to you, because you really are the same, sweet boy I fell in love with in Bombay.
We talk about how much has happened over the years and how gratifying it has been to live life to the fullest, to love one another with abandon.
Then, we return to the Holi festival of our youth, and, amidst the fountains of colorful gulal blooming around us, I mark you with red kumkum powder, signifying you are mine.
I wake up wiping away tears, still wishing that, all those years ago, I’d had the courage to say hello.