It has kind of become a tradition in IIT Madras. Every year during Holi-the Indian festival of colors, most of us go to the Beasant Nagar Beach, after having played with colors inside the campus for some time.
In my third year, I followed this tradition and reached the beach on a borrowed bicycle. A great friend of mine joined me in the trip. We parked our bicycles as we reached the beach. From previous experiences, it was known to us that the probabiliy of losing slippers and shirts and keys at the beach was very high in Holi. So we wrapped these things together and left them on the bicycle itself. And then we headed towards the shore, dressed only in shorts.
Oh boy, the sand was just too hot. Without slippers, we felt our soles burning, as we ran towards the sea. It’s like half a kilometer stretch of sand out there that one needs to traverse before reaching the shoreline at the Beasant Nagar Beach. Only when the soles finally felt the cool sea water under them, that some relief came to the burning skin.
As I reached the shore, I could see three odd looking local youths challenging about two dozens IITians surrounding them. One of them had a big stick in his hands and he was shouting something in Tamil. A hostel senior told me about a fight that had broke between some IITians and these local guys over an issue as trivial as a volley ball. I moved towards the crowd to add to the head count of the IITians. In few minutes, the three local goons realized that they were too less in number to do anything to us, and so they went swimming into the sea. No one among us tried to follow them. They were from the fishermen families afterall and one couldn’t chase them in the sea, at least anyone from amongst us.
Some of the enraged IITians decided that they would wait for the guys to come back to shore so that they could teach them a lesson. I learnt that one of those local men had actually hit some IITian with a wooden stick causing a minor cut. These enraged bunch of guys proceeded along the shore line in the direction were the three heroes were headed.
I did not follow them and instead decided to have some good time, swimming and floating and playing with the waves. While having fun, I also took few glances of the crowd that had now shifted to one end of the beach. The three locals were still in the sea, but coming closer to the shore gradually, now quite ahead along the shore. Soon they were out. And in few moments it was visibly obvious that a fight had started once more. The part of the beach were violence was erupting, was closer to the huts and dwellings of the fishermen. It appeared to me that the local guys were getting heavy on the IITians who had gone there, and so I rushed towards them. I had no clue as to what was really happening in that area. But something told me that I couldn’t be watching the whole episode from far away like a helpless son of a bitch. And so here I was, running towards the scene, hoping to offer my help in case that was needed.
I had reached almost halfway, when something spectacular happened. All the fifty odd IITians who had gone there, were running for their lives in my direction. I stopped immediately and stepped aside. I saw them running with fright. Some were saying, ‘Run, Run, they are coming to beat us with giant sticks’. I still do not know, why I did not run that day. I just kept standing, first watching my college mates pass, and then watching the chasers approach. I just did not try to run.
I could see those giant thick wooden sticks in their hands. And then, suddenly one of them came to me. ‘I am not with them’, I pleaded. It could have worked if they knew english or I knew Tamil. But then, that was not the case. The fact that I was colored all over was enough for him to guess that I was one of the IITians. So this guy, unable to understand what I was saying, threw me to the ground. I got up and realized that I was already surrouned by few more fishermen, most of them holding big sticks. In fact, the size of one particular stick in the hands of a middle aged man, who was standing right in front of me, was so huge that I doubted if he could actually use it for beating even a dog, leave alone a human. I was miserably wrong. The first shot, and a pretty powerful one landed straight on the head. Holy Chirst! It was like completely sensationless. Even before I could use my hands to cover my head, one more power-packed head shot had already been delivered. I was horrified. The shower of sticks continued for some time till I decided to fall on ground lest I would be killed by these cruel men. So with all the drama that I could exhibit I acted as if I were dead, and fell on the sand, with waves passing over me. A few more punches and stick shots rocked my body, but I just didn’t move. This act of mine, saved me from furthur beating and those ruthless creatures, left for other preys.
I moved slightly. One of them was still there and he lifted me from the sea-water and blew some punches on my face or wherever. But I guess, he was not strong enough to offer me even a singe bruise by his punch. I begged him to leave and after few more punches he did. By this time, the friend with whom I had come to the beach, came to me and we moved out of water. I rested for some time on the wet sand, and made all kind of faces so that any passing by fisherman didn’t plan to hit me any more.
Blood was coming from the head but then it soon stopped. The right hand appeared to have changed shape and I couldn’t bend it easily. The thumb of the left hand had become dead. But the best thing was that my legs were pefectly alright.
Later the X-ray report confirmed that there was no fracture. I even did not need to have stitches on my head. A dressing and an ice-pack session were sufficient. I am sure, not many will have such a memoreable Holi to record in their lives. ;D