Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sundays and Lipstick.

I suddenly missed dancing today.Not the moronic club dancing that I occasionally indulge in, but the classical dance that I trained for, for years. Dance was a part of my Sundays.Unlike a lot of children in my generation, I never got to watch Mahabharat on TV, because I remember its timings clashing with my classes. More than the nostalgia, there was this sense of deep seated guilt of having wronged my Guru and also a sense of waste. Not a waste of talent (I was never a great dancer) but a waste of knowledge. Imagine having learnt something for around a decade and then not remembering almost all of what you've learnt. I remembered a taal in the middle of class the other day but could not, for the life of me, break it up into its constituent taalis and khaalis.
I dont remember when or why I stopped dancing, but I like telling myself that it was around 11th standard, when I had too many tuition classes to attend.
I had a bright yellow costume with a black border, and the blouse had tiny fishes woven into its border and my ghungroos got pretty heavy by the time I stopped (as a ritual,the number of bells in the ghungroo increase with every year of your training)
I miss the unified ringing of the ghungroos and the dirt that stuck to the sole of my feet after the lessons got over. There was also a typical way in which the dupatta was tied-one end covering the chest and the other wound tightly around the waist.
Maybe someday I'll get back to dancing, which was my primary hobby. (I began dancing at the age of four, writing in middle school and started taking photographs only in high school) Till then, I'll just look back and smile at memories of wearing alta on my feet and fingertips, of wearing a fake bun for the head-dress we wore, and of licking off the lipstick the make-up men put on us before shows.

P.S: the photograph was taken during the Mylapore Festival in Chennai.Mylapore is a lot like North Calcutta- the old and orthodox settlement with beautiful houses and dingy lanes.the dance form here is Bharatnatyam, but I trained in Odissi.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Losing Chunks.

Last night I dreamt of my kindergarten school. I saw I was walking down 8B more while I ran into this woman who knew me when I was 2, who taught me the difference between red and blue and between a circle and a square, among other things. “Mary Aunty” we used to call her. I saw Mary Aunty in my sleep-in a cotton sari and a big bindi, and she took me to my old school. I saw the dimly lit room which had colourful soft boards on all the walls. I saw the mounds of plasticine that were moulded into being pink elephants and green ducks. I walked around barefeet feeling the coldness of the ground where I learnt how to walk straight and I think I saw the green wooden merry-go-round too.

Having woken up from sleep, I called up my mother to ask her if the school still stands down that road in Jadavpur. She said it shut down a long time back.

It’s funny how we are growing old everyday, not by blowing off candles but by these little losses. The other day J.D. Salinger passed away and I felt I lost a big chunk of my growing up with him. I remembered my school leaving diary and what someone I totally love, had written. She wrote, “I always thought I was the catcher, not realizing that it was you who has been catching me all through.” Holden Caulfield has been a part of my growing up, he opened me up to a magic that only works once. With magic of this sort, the rabbit gets pulled out of the hat only once and you forever remember that ephemeral moment when the white gloved hand of the magician pulls a smiling rabbit out of his red ribbon lined black hat. You try and hold on to that moment of disbelief forever, because you know that, that is going to be the only time you will see anything of that sort ever happen.

“We are losing all our childhoods”, I said.
“It all has to go someday”, you replied.

I believe you. But I’m holding onto my moments of magic.