Saturday, 9 May 2015

Passionate Prodigies.

Chapter 1

          In the biggest auditorium in the city of Delhi, hundreds of people gave a standing ovation and wouldn't stop clapping. The child on stage was a young girl of 12, Samaira Sharma, who had given a splendid dance performance of contemporary art form. Samaira started dancing at a tender age of 4 years. Her parents Ram and Kavita saw her talent and encouraged her. Where businessman Ram provided financial aid, home-maker Kavita gave her daughter all the motivation she needed. Since the past 7-8 years, Samaira's talent was recognized all over the nation.
          In another part of India, in Chennai, another young girl, Deepika Nayar, aged 9 was making remarkable achievements in the field of Bharatnatyam dance form since 2 years. Her family comprised of only her elder brother, Dakshay. Her parents had died in a factory blast. Her brother supported her in all the walks of life. He had a decent job and earned satisfactorily to support them both.
          In the slums of Mumbai, Gayatri Patil was yet another girl who excelled at Lavani and Bollywood dance forms. Her parents Dinkar and Shashi were stunned when they found out that there was a child prodigy hidden in their daughter. At the age of 7, having danced for 2 years, Gayatri was a girl with abundant talent but no money. She had won some of the local competitions but those weren't going to be significant.
          After a week, Mr. Mehra who was a successful dancer started a search for young talent all over India pursuing a variety of dance forms. Within a matter of time, a team was formed inclusive of Samaira, Deepika and Gayatri. Mr. Mehra was aware of the diffferent dance forms they knew. He was going to make it an advantage rather than a barrier. Days passed by. It was quite difficult for them to adjust with each other. Samaira, the rich spoiled brat couldn't deal with them at first. The youngest, Gayatri, thought she was too much. Deepika struck a friendship with both of them though. The three of them wouldn't have grown so close if it weren't for Deepika. She was the common thread earlier but later on, they all became great friends. Along with Mr. Mehra, they started analyzing each other's dances, gave suggestions and shared the areas for improvement. After weeks of hard work, it was time to show the world what they possessed. Mr. Mehra enrolled their names in a national competition. They kept on winning; preliminary rounds, quarters, semis and then the finals. They won that competition. Individually, they were perfect but as a group, they were phenominal. They were the first ones to forge three dance forms in one act. It was a treat to watch them dance, the judge had said. The next 2 years were witnessed by increasing growth and a line of successes. It was 2015, they had aged. Child prodigies are not forever but there were no signs as to their slowing talent. They were on a roll.
          Gayatri said, "Isn't it amazing? Three child prodigies coming together to form the best dance group!" Samaira began, "That's right. We're achieving milestones that no one has achieved before. We are the next big thing." Deepika checked in, "If anyone of us goes off, it'll be you, Samaira! Fly as much as you wish but keep your feet on the ground! We achieved so much. The last thing we need is bad publicity." Samaira squeaked, "Yes, yes. Nothing is going to happen to us. Successes are going to come our way like they always did. We are rooted in the industry now and we have to continue giving our best." Gayatri talked, "That's true. Let's start preparing for the next event. It's going to be an honor to be performing in front of the Prime Minister and receiving an award by him!"

Chapter 2

          On a Saturday evening, the event was to start. The three girls' families were there to view their daughters dance. It was a moment of pride and delusional happiness. Samaira, Deepika and Gayatri had their performance at the beginning. The anxiety was building up within them, like it always did. They were dolled up and ready to dance. An elated Gayatri began, "Girls, this is the most important dance of our lives. How excited are you!?" Deepika said, "I can't wait to go out there and dance my heart out! This is so thrilling." Samaira spoke with zeal, "This is really unbelievable. It's a vital event for us.  Now, we are going to give our best performance today. I can feel it! Let's go, team!!" It was time. They were on stage. The crowd was a vast expanse as far as they could see. It was usual for them now. The music started and so did their feet. The PM was astounded by their talent. As their dance had reached due course, something unusual happened. The beady lace from Gayatri's skirt went loose. It fell off dragging her skirt with it, leaving her partly exposed. Samaira immediately went to cover her. Deepika, unaware, kept dancing there. She slipped over the beads and fell hard on the stage, damaging her back. Samaira and Gayatri were too shocked to respond. Both teary-eyed girls went to help Deepika, who was in a puddle of tears. Embarrassed, they left the stage from the back exit. There was silence in the changing room. It all happened so unexpectedly quick that there was no time to react. It was their first ever failure.
          Gayatri was furious, "How did it happen? We had checked everything so many times! How did it even happen? Why would such a horrible thing happen to me?" Deepika said, "It totally sucks. Firstly, I was devastated after I fell. And then, I saw you like that. I mean, how on earth would it have happened?" Samaira started consoling them, "It wasn't our fault. The stupid designer is to be blamed. Mr. Mehra is going to fire him. Let's just go to the room and rest." However, after some time, they had to go up there, in front of thousands of people to accept their award. After such a performance it seemed absolutely silly to accept an award, that too by such an important person. They almost didn't want to go after all the humiliation but it was going to be handed by the Prime Minister himself. After a lot of badgering from Mr. Mehra and their family, they decided to accept it.
          Their names were called on stage. Even a joke was made at their expense, which belittled them further. They accepted the award. The PM said, "Congratulations and don't let little incidents bother you." That made them feel better. Just when they were about to leave the podium, there was a gun shot! The bullet hit Samaira by the arm, leaving her injured. Everyone was terrified. There was a lot of choas and hustle bustle within the crowd.  The bodyguards came to the rescue. PM was taken to a safe place and the girls were given protection. No sooner than they were inside, their parents rushed inside along with a doctor. Thankfully, there was one present in the audience. Samaira was unconscious by the time. The doctor removed the bullet and put on bandage. It was not a life threatening wound, but it caused a tremendous shock to all of them. The girls weren't capable to speak nor were their folks. After all, it isn't something that happens everyday! Apparently, the gun was fired by some drunk lunatic who was arrested by the police later on.
          The next day, everything felt disastrous. Not only was their mishap viral but so was the shooting. It was impossible to ignore it. Samaira was not taken to the hospital as it was not a fatal wound. But, she was definitely in pain. The moment they woke up, they saw the news flash on their mobiles, television and the newspapers. It broke them. It wasn't something they had to deal with earlier. This was their first failure and it injured them deeply. They met each other every day but outside of the studio. The outgoing Samaira started becoming quieter. Gayatri always wore too many clothes. Deepika glanced at laughing passers-by always wondering they were laughing at her. They gave up on dancing for a couple of weeks. It was just impossible, under the circumstances, to even think about a competition.

Chapter 3

           2 months went by. The restless girls finally decided to start dancing again. They began preparing for another show to be held for the Police Department. It was around 15 days away. Gradually, the day of show arrived. Samaira, Deepika and Gayatri had practiced well. Right before the moment they were called up on stage, Samaira spoke up, "I'm afraid. I have never been afraid of performing but now all I can think of is that those people are going to laugh at us. Or shoot us." Deepika said, "Try to relax. You can imagine my fear then. There's a reason why I'm wearing clothes from top to bottom!" Gayatri told them, "At least you two remember the moves! I am going to blank out and become a national joke. Again!" They went on the stage as their name was called. After 7 minutes of the performance, they were relieved. They felt a sense of comfort that it was over.
         The level of their performance sank faster and deeper. The series of failures continued. Before every dance, they prayed that they won't screw up. After every dance, there was a relief that they didn't. They didn't know how these feelings changed so much. The year was the worst one they had. After years of laurels and achievements, there was a steep way downhill. It wasn't even a fluctuating graph. It was a "V" turned upside down. Was this going to happen to them? Was it the end of the prodigies? Or was it just a slump? Was their talent going off like a leak in the water tanker? One day, Ram, Kavita, Dinkar, Shashi and Dakshay met with Mr. Mehra. They explained to them how their girls were broken. They were even thinking about quitting altogether. They shared all their worries with them. None of them wanted them to quit dancing. Mr. Mehra promised them that he will help. He promised them that he would do his best to bring the girls on top of the game.
          After two days, Mr. Mehra met up with his three prodigies and decided to take them to a music show. It was a delightful musical evening with four musicians. A lady was singing. Two other men were on the harmonium and flute respectively. And a young boy was on the tabla. The music was so soothing. Their devotion shone out so purely. The way the woman closed her eyes, had a bit of a frown of concentration and the way her hand was raised up to depict the high note. Her dedication shone brightly from her expressions. It was almost magical. When the show ended, Mr. Mehra asked the girls, "Did you like the show?" All the three nodded yes. He then began, "Did you notice anything among them?" They were surprised by the question. They had scarce knowledge of music then what were they going to notice? Whether she was off-tone? Looking at their confused faces, he explained to them, "Those artists were enjoying themselves. They weren't performing for the audience. They were doing it because they found themselves while doing it. Singing, for them, is their life and audience is only a secondary factor. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?" Their faces were blank. Deepika spoke up, "Are you saying we could learn something from them?" He nodded, "Yes, you're right. Samaira, after 10 years of success, you're now doubting yourself. Deepika, after 6 years of proving yourself in this field, you're limiting your capabilities. And Gayatri, after 5 years of constant practice, you feel like you're not good enough. Before the start of your failures, did you ever bother about anything else? You just wanted to dance! That was something you did because it gave you joy. It was a feeling of freedom. Dancing meant everything to you. But after that show, you have started to act so differently. Before a performance, you are scared instead of being excited. You feel relief instead of content after a performance. You think about other people more than you think about your dance moves. You take up simple steps rather than challenging yourself. Where have those prodigies gone? Those little girls who cared only and only about dancing? Where's that passion gone? I know, I should congratulate you for not taking fame into your heads but this is equally bad. You have got to remember why you started. It's not that your talent is shading off. You have improved yourself, over the years and you can see it in your numerous medals and trophies. So now you have talent plus lots of hard work. It's only those bizarre thoughts in your head which are ruining it for you. You shouldn't let your mind play games with yourself. Develop some mental confidence and try to dance for yourself. Otherwise, what's the use of anything?" Samaira, Deepika and Gayatri were too numbed to reply. They understood each word spoken by their tutor. The truth of the whole situation left them open-mouthed. Knowing something is one thing. But, when it is spoken out loud, then it becomes a real thing. It gets conviction and purpose. The remaining day they spent in silence. They even asked at their homes. Ram and Kavita consoled Samaira. They told her the same truth but also told her that it was not too late to become fearless. Dakshay sat by his sister and assured her that she could still get back on track. He even convinced her to wear comfortable clothes instead of over dressing all the time. "One wardrobe malfunction cannot take away the spark in my sister", he had said. Dinkar asked Deepika to live her life as per her terms. He convinced her that the society is a very expansive, useless and the last thing she should be worried about. Her mother, Shashi, asked her to go over her tapes of performances and study the difference. The three of them pondered over the words of Mr. Mehra and thier loved ones till they fell asleep.
          The next day, they met and started watching the video tapes of all their major performances. The transition was remarkable and noteworthy. It was impossible to ignore the change before and after that life-changing show. After some time, Deepika said, "Enough of this. After watching so many videos, I am just euphoric to get moving. Let's dance!" With no more arguments, the music was on. With a smile on their faces and a complete mental makeover, they danced with grace, joy and life. There was no fear about anything. They didn't care about any competition. They now knew that dance is not equal to competition. Dance equals life. They didn't feel like stopping. As Mr. Mehra saw them, he recorded their fabulous dance of freedom. As anticipated, it got the most views online and the three woman prodigies were officially back!

8 comments:

  1. What an imagination! You are very prolific. I really enjoyed this story. I look forward to more. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. You can find 3 more short stories here. Thank you for reading.

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