Monday, 30 June, 2008

KNot A Laughing Matter!

The most awaited day during school days was our 'Annual day'.

Speakers sat in a queue on the dais longer than the front row audience...
We had to wait for hours through the endless speeches, felicitations and reports to get our much-awaited prizes...
And, if participating, we had to sit with 3 inch thick makeup on, for 4 to 5 hours at a stretch!

Still... Annual days are the most memorable foldouts from the beautiful book of school life.

Most of our annual days would be conducted in the Fine Arts hall, Cochin. So it was a day to 'freak out' with friends.

Freak out --> Going to Fine arts hall from school in school bus (usually in what we call soap petti, an ancient specimen of TATA’s technology. It also remotely resembles a mootta (bedbug)) accompanied ONLY by the Principal, head teachers and well, most other teachers; and then spending almost the whole day with them.

But I must tell you, it was always worth the fun.

Reaching the Hall, we rush to the green rooms and book seats in front of the makeup man.
Well he is one man whom I have admired wholeheartedly in my life. Well, you would adore him yourself if you happen to sit in front of him for 1 hour without breathing, let alone uttering a single word and finally you look into the mirror n say something like..

"Hi! Who.....?"

I can’t understand what on earth made us BOOK seats in front of him.....! To get all that paint (I sometimes wonder if he used old tins of Nerolac) stamped onto your poor unassuming face.
I also admire my Mom a bit more because she can remove the same makeup in 1 hour (My friend claims her mom can do it in 56 minutes...Close but no proof! :P)
That too, with oil, soap and water being the only available solvents, while I am dozing off to sleep after the hectic day.

So that brings us to the glorious dances, one of which is our star here - my most unforgettable.

It was a Folk dance; a group folk dance. I don’t remember the song but it lasted for 10 minutes and was something along the lines of the typical 60s and 70s Mallu film songs (the tribal group dance type).
So well, it was a group dance. I was (un)fortunate enough to be in the middle. 7 of us had practiced for a month rigorously under our dance teacher losing precious classes! (With duty leave of course! ;) ) And finally the D-Day was here...

We dressed up in all the ‘beautiful’ costumes after makeup. I pity those who haven’t got an opportunity to wear them. Colours like fluorescent pink, yellow, gold and orange adorn different parts of the dress. There was a rumor that the tailor used to pick the leftover cloth pieces and fashion these 'trendy outfits'... Anyways, I have a fighting temptation to upload a pic for your reference but my self respect thankfully prevents me from doing it. (No, I will not show you the pic!)
If the dresses are trendy, the accessories are top notch haute couture!
Golden crown, weighing 1 kg each...Bangles of Gold, Silver, Yellow.... A minimum of 5 neck chains... Chilanka (big anklets)... Yeah, Not much. :/
These are the normal fittings for most of the dances...
And on that fateful day, we had long vaarmudis too. (Artificial plaited hair usually a minimum of 1 metre long)

.....The long felicitations and speeches were through...
…..The prayer songs and group songs too....
And then the anchor announced...

"Bringing before you onstage... youth festival prizewinners for Group dance!!....."

Brimming with pride we entered the stage...

The first 2 minutes of the song is sort of a warm-up. We run around the stage and then stand in different poses (There are different terms for these in technical classical dance language but for the laymen’s reference I am using some common comments that we receive from our friends….)

Plucking mangoes’ was an all time favorite - with all of us turning in different directions and then lifting a leg and a hand into diametrically opposite directions with any one of the ‘navarasas’ on face. Considering the effort it usually was ‘dhukham’.
Others were the ‘Sakuntala and darbhamuna’, ‘Getting ready for high jump’, ‘Stork praying on one leg’ etc. etc…

The first couple of poses were over and we turned and ran for the next one…. Suddenly I felt something pulling me from behind… The constraints of the pose prevented me from turning back but I turned my face slightly.

I saw a knot of black ropes.

A second later, to my utter horror, I realized that mine and my friend Swapna’s vaarmudis had entwined!

Then I saw her face.


Wow. Perfect.

Later on I would know from her that the same navarasa was on my face too.

The song was playing on. After a few seconds we both would run in opposite directions.
Either one of us would have to dance with 2 metre long hair (rather a tail) or with boy cut.

We tried tugging at it slightly. Nope. No use. We’d fall down (It was one of the mango poses).
Our heartbeats and the intensity of our expressions increased exponentially.
Hundreds of pairs of eyes were staring at us.

Ommm……Oommmm…Omkaramaya porul moonnayi pirinju……..’

Second Om was through… ‘pirinju…’ and we had to run.

Our dance teacher was almost hysterical and was beating her chest as if to mourn.
And then, like an angel, our Math teacher sprinted into action.
She too, apparently, was watching the scene and contemplating the consequences.
The next second, she ran into the stage behind us, broke apart the knot (Kyunki saas bhi style) and ran out through the other side.

You can never imagine the relief Swapna and I felt then.
I could swear I heard a collective sigh from the audience too. (Wow.. what a sympathetic audience!)

No other casualties happened thereafter. The dance was a hit.

Once done, we rushed to the green room and started discussing frantically about all the mishaps that could have happened!!

The rest 5 of us were unaware of the tragedy-that-could-have-been and expressed relevant expressions like “Whaaaat!!”s and “ Oh my Gawwwd!!”s .
Our dance teacher came running to both of us and started kissing our foreheads as if welcoming the prodigal son home.

All of us were in no doubt that the audience panicked too seeing the event and then rejoiced in the solution.

I ran out of the green room (Changing the costume of course, and using a kerchief to cover my face) to my Dad.

“How was it Appa?”

“It was good. But why did Elizabeth ma’am run in between?”


Wednesday, 25 June, 2008

A Lucky Draw....?

Do you remember the day you were born...? Seeing the first rays of the sun...? Uttering your first cry?
I bet you dont..But you will definitely be sure that there were expert obstetricians and nurses to monitor your entry into this beautiful world...
Your father must have waited restlessly to receive you into his arms.
And finally beside your mother, beside her caresses, you must have fallen into a deep slumber...

It must have been a lucky dip... Thou shall live in this body....He must have said...
And you, unawares, born unto love, care, security. What if your lot was a fraction late..? or early...?
How would it have been.... To be born where you are not wanted.... Into hands ready to strangle.... Onto the doorsteps of an orphan's asylum....?

We preach of equality... We definitely are, in the eyes of our creator.
What can we be proud about, mortal chunks of flesh...?
If he decides to call you back this moment how better are you from the soul next to you..? or worse...?

Thursday, 19 June, 2008


For every soul so sweetly loved
Comes a moment that deeply hurts..
Hurt, we do, but never realise
Fathoms deep goes the trickling blood.
The rose knows not how it hurts
Of its bloom, yes, its proud..
Dont I make them happy she thinks
But alas the pricks she knows them not..
Is there a way to undo the wrongs?
Ask for mercy, forgive and forget..
But nails on a wall still leaves the lesions
Pardon one may but leaving the wounds.