Mini Goes to the Bazaar

By Mrudula Govindaraju


Mini ran into her father’s study.

“Are you done? Can we go now?” She whispered through the crack, opening the door slowly, poking her head into the room. She was bouncing with excitement.

Her father looked up from his computer and mouthed, “two minutes.” Wriggling two fingers at her.

“Hurry up. The shops will close.” She stood on tip-toe, held on to the door and swayed gently.

“I promise. Just two minutes.” He father whispered.

Mini shut the door gently. It took all her strength not to shut it with a bang. She ran to the veranda, without stopping to catch her breath, wore her shoes, grabbed the cloth bag she made for a class project, and waited for Daddy.

Mini loved to shop with Daddy. It was so much fun.

“I am ready.” Mini yelled at the top of her lungs as soon as she saw Daddy walk into the veranda.

“Mini, you’ll bounce right out of your shoes!” Daddy laughed and kissed her on the head.

“I want to visit all the shops in the bazaar.” Mini looked up at Daddy as he locked the door.

“We’ve to make dinner, before Mummy comes home. She’s working late today.” Daddy smiled at her.

Mini skipped out of the gate.

“You have to hold my hand, Mini. The bazaar will be crowded.” Daddy caught up with Mini and held her hand. Both made their way quickly to Pondy Bazaar.

Mini loved Pondy Bazaar. It was close to their home and it was always lively and noisy. During festivals the Bazaar came alive. The main street was lit up with swathes of glittering lights. Sellers opened temporary stalls on both sides of the street. Mini’s steps slowed as she slowly took in the colours.

Sackloads of bright colour powder, filled to overflowing, stood side by side all along the street.

“Come here for the brightest colours!” A street vendor shouted at the top of his voice. His clothes had patches of pink, blue and yellow. His hair was green.

“Daddy, have they started playing Holi?” Mini tugged Daddy’s hand.

“Not yet Mini. The colour-sellers have smeared different colours on themselves to show us how bright the colours are.”

“I want to buy all the colours.” Mini pulled Daddy along the main street.

“Buy my colours for your child.” Another seller shouted as Daddy and Mini walked past her shop, deeper into the Bazaar. Daddy hoisted Mini onto his shoulders. She was enveloped in a haze of light and colour. She felt as if the entire world of colour was spread out on the ground for her. It was a riot of green, yellow, pink, purple and blue.

“Daddy! Look to your left. Look at the old woman selling colours.” Mini pointed, bending eagerly over Daddy’s head. Daddy walked around a family buying colours and stopped in front of the old woman’s shop. The colours she was selling were not as bright. Daddy lifted Mini off his shoulders.

“Mini, you are right. These colours aren’t as bright as the others we saw in the bazaar. They’re natural colours.” Daddy said excitedly. “I used to play Holi with these colours when I was your age.”

The old woman smiled at Mini. “You like these colours, child?”

Mini nodded.

“They’re all natural. Made from plants. Do you see this green powder?” She pointed the sack to Mini. “Here, hold out your hand.” The woman dabbed green powder on Mini’s palm. The green was not very bright and smelled like earth.

“It’s made from neem leaves.” The old woman’s eyes twinkled. 

“Neem leaves?” Mini whispered.

“Yes, it is a beautiful green colour and does not harm your skin. See the yellow, it’s turmeric. Red colour is turmeric mixed with lime.” The old woman rubbed the colours on Mini’s cheeks and hands.

“The best colour I have is purple.” The old woman took a handful of purple colour powder and showed it to Daddy.

“Mini, it’s made from the indigo plant.” Daddy rubbed the colour between his fingers.

“Daddy, let’s buy all the colours. We will surprise Mummy.”

“Yes, poppet. It will be a lovely surprise for Mummy.”

The old woman packed the colours and put them into the bag Mini held open.

“Daddy, now I am ready to play Holi tomorrow.” She smiled in happiness.

“Happy Holi Daddy!”

“Happy Holi Mini.”