The weather can change
Tehnaz Bahadurji, Workshop 11
“Arrey, Ashish, heard you went to Buckingham Palace and met the Queen!”
This is the remark that follows me everywhere I go nowadays. What was it like, they want to know. Did I actually meet her and Prince Charles, or just some flunkeys? What did she say? What did I say? What was she like?
It angers me. It maddens me. It infuriates me. I’d not received so much attention when I received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sangeet Natak Akademi. Nor when the Government of India made me a Padma Shri.
I’ve dedicated my whole life to dance – 70 long and difficult years – to the perfection of movement and stability, rhythm, harmony and grace. And instead of admiring my mastery of a completely unique art form, instead of acknowledging the sacrifices I’ve made to get where I am, I find I am defined and honoured today, because of my contact with a woman who was born into wealth and privilege.
Just years ago, these same people tittered behind their hands – he’s a dancer – as if it was something to be ashamed of. Not one of them can match my dedication and discipline and yes, my talent. But they are full enough of themselves to laugh.
My mood matches the day – dark and heavy, with black clouds. I ignore these adoring new fans, and stride purposefully towards my appointment, almost missing the timorous voice saying, “Sir, Ashish sir.”
It is a young boy, slender and lithe, with candescent eyes. “Please bless me, sir, for I want to be a dancer like you.”
The raging fire within me is swiftly quietened. “It’s a hard road, son, with many sharp stones.”
He smiles knowingly. “My feet are already calloused from long hours of practice.”
He has suffered too. I recognise the pain. I give him my blessings freely and generously. People are watching. It bothers neither of us.
The sun is out. The clouds are dispersed. The future is bright.