Author: Trishla Bafna
A pacifying sea-Blue, dull yet enticing grey, the suave black, the lascivious red, bright orange, the tranquil green, playful yellow, a deep ombré, resplendent Auburn, glittering silver, burning gold and an endless array of every colour visible to the human eye.
Now, standing in the centre of a flustered market buzzing with voices of young girls bargaining with their mothers, she could relate to something far more profound. She could see Colours not only of the things sold in the ‘haat’ but also of the different emotions that people experienced.
Tempers ran high like currents across the crowded market and so the colour red was predominant in areas where shop keepers and customers haggled over prices. There was a large cloud of green over the jewellery and clothes store where one could see a group of young and pretty girls competing to look their best. Asha always wondered how these girls who were supposedly the best of friends could turn enemies over material things like clothes and trinkets. The colours yellow and blue could always be seen trailing above crowds of children reflecting their laughter, happiness and innocence, following them as they ran all over the place livening it up like a live wire of frolic.
Asha always associated the grey colour with the soldier who came to the market everyday but never brought his wife anything. His cold and lifeless eyes used to sweep over all the colourful hues in the market but nothing ever caught his fancy. Who knew what he was looking for? Was it redemption for his acts during the war or something that would make him feel that life was worth living again, or else a remedy that would erase all the horrors of the war, but Asha could only speculate.
The colour black was widow Bashir’s colour. Married at eighteen and widowed at twenty, her life had been a perpetual series of despair. She had lost her parents in a car accident at the age of four and had been brought up at the mercy of her relatives. They had gotten her married as soon as she had reached the legal age to a man old enough to be her father but at least she had had the protection of a husband and a home to call her own for the first time since her parents died. But alas, as fate would have it, her husband too died due to a heart attack leaving Bashir numb with shock and in desperate financial straits as he was under eons of debt. Now she sat everyday without fail, be it cold or raining or scorching hot under the banyan tree in the middle of the market selling homemade sweets to try and keep the roof over her head for just a day more, just one more day…
The fierce and bright orange, Asha always thought, suited Abdul the best. He had charisma and a sense of purpose. He could make indifferent and unfeeling people weep for his cause. Thus, it was no wonder that the orphanage had appointed him to be their official publicist even at the age of twelve. When Abdul spoke passionately about the poor children left to starve and asked people to contribute generously, even the misers were compelled to loosen their pockets. Whether all the money went to the orphanage or some went for the purchase of sweets for Abdul was a different matter all together. He was a firefly and all the ordinary people were attracted towards him like moths are to a firefly. Asha was of the opinion that he would be a great orator and politician one day. championing the cause of the downtrodden but lining his own pockets simultaneously.
As for the colour white, Asha thought it was her colour, perfectly capturing her essence as she believed herself to be at peace with herself and the world.
After all, at eighty-seven and nearly blind she had been through all the aforementioned kaleidoscope of colours and many more shades in between. But for now she was happy to just sit back and watch the drama of human life go on, sympathising with some while empathising with others as she had been in their place in the gruelling world at some point of time.
Deep inside, we have an entire abyss of covers thrown recklessly, one over the other. We keep splattering colour after colour, deepening the shade and creating the fondest and the gravest memories for ourselves. Life may pass us by and we may be reduced to dust, but memories…they remain.
The market place was a spectrum of colours and Asha could identify every one of them.