Fists full of color from the hot golden ball—pink, yellow, blue, orange, punched through the grainy white sky. The sunlight beamed and pierced through the atmosphere of Aidni. A grey skinned, barefooted child ran down, pitter-pattering on the concrete emanating heat, yelling, “It’s here!”

He ran and smiled past the nude man on Pavitra Street, who had been praying for forty-six years in yoga poses non-stop. The man unbuckled the heels of his feet from behind his head and settled them before him. His knees ached from the position, and he placed his ashy hands on them. He looked up from the floor, and above him saw a beam of red race across the sky and automatically closed his eyes, turned the palms of his hands to the sky and cackled with a gaping smile—only two teeth on each side.

The red beam raced alongside the pale blue coating the sky. The warm bold Crayola colors hovered over the achromatic grey village, and the people who saw were in awe and awakened.

The grey skinned child continued to scream at the top of his lungs about the arrival of the colors. He reached the somber man on Sonido Street who was playing a booming dissonant moonlight sonata on his grand dark grey pump organ in his music shop, leaving everyone nearby in a dormant zombie state.

“It’s here!” yelled the boy.

But the man continued to play. The boy walked into the shop and nudged the man who appeared entranced with closed eyes. The man fumbled on the keys, opened his eyes with flaring nostrils and looked at the boy. Backing away from the angry musician, the boy pointed at the glass front window. The man looked, and saw flashes of yellow and pink. He got up from his dusty corner, and pushed through the door. There were people standing on the street outside of their homes and their shops, staring up. The man looked back to find the boy, but he was gone.

The boy, panting, reached the dark sparkling silver river that ran throughout the center of the village. The Bhatti family was all dressed in the brightest shade of white as they carried in their grandfather who had passed the night before. The grandmother sobbed quietly looking at her beloved’s body until she felt a tug on her white sari and looked down.

“Don’t cry, Naniji,” said the boy, looking up at the grandmother.

The grandmother parted the boy’s dark silky hair, and he smiled at her while pointing up. She looked up, and her mouth opened. The little boy moved past her hand that remained in place in the air, and ran with the river yelling, “It’s here!”

People broke through the waves of the river as the water began to reflect the colors overhead.

The widows in white saris and speckled grey bald heads climbed out of the temple. The youngest one, age seven, stepped on the pale marble floor and stood at the cracked arch, looking out at the river with tired eyes from heavy cries and sleepless nights. The frown she had sustained from age five when she was wed curved slowly into a neutral lip, and then into the shape of the letter U, at the flash of the silver river turning into a golden.

Thousands of grey faces gathered in the center of the town. They waited by the river like eager coloring book characters, waiting to be kissed by the colors and the warmth of the sun.

The ones who were in the river for the holy cleansing looked at their bodies coated in color underneath the water. One man with his hair dreaded and wrapped at the top of his head had gone into the river and dunked a tangerine he was going to have for lunch into the water. But as he gazed at the tangerine underneath, he saw it go from a sandy grey tone into a deep orange. He pulled the tangerine out of the water, and held it up to the light of the sun.

The little boy stopped, looked out at the man in the river, and said the word “Naranji!” The man whispered into the tangerine, “Naranji.” Everyone aligned by the riverbed looked towards the man. Then a splash was heard. The little boy had dived into the river, and began yelling with excitement, “NARANJI!”

But as the boy splashed into the water blended with hues of color, the people’s attention was no longer the orange of the tangerine. The boy’s face filled in with shades of brown. His grey shirt was painted with streaks of sky blue and his hair a dark brown. The others in the river laughed and plunged themselves completely into the water and swam to the edge.

As they got out of the river, the crowd at the edge let out one big shout of elation, “AH!” Those who had bathed in the river were nowhere near grey. Different shades of purple, blue, pink, red, green, any color imaginable now covered the bodies of the inhabitants of the once colorless village.

Then suddenly, a loud timbre was heard in the background. The musician had arrived with his sitar, parked by the naranji tree, and began to play a traditional but archaic melody that was often played along with the myth of color to children in primary school.

But this time, the song told a story that was no myth. Hundreds rushed into the river, and bathed in color and light. The water rose in elevation, and people filled their buckets with water and poured it onto anything grey. The heated ground hissed at the embrace of the water and turned into a muddy brown. The children laughed, and ran around barefoot. One took hold of the seven-year-old widow, and invited her to play.

The holy man from Pavitra Street grabbed a torch, and lit it with a match. A blood-red, orange fire blazed out of the torch, escaping with a lunge of fury. The air caressed the flames, and molded them into raging spheres and clouds.

The little boy, still in the river, looked all around him, and saw everyone engaging in celebration. Covered in color, he found it to be the perfect time to practice his long overdue backstroke.

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Samantha Henry

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