I chafed against all the conditions the Guild had imposed. At first I was annoyed about the three item limit. Next I grumbled against the ‘once in, always in’ rule. But for this rule, I could have brought in a book, a notebook and a pen every day and spent all the time I needed to complete my home assignments with five times the time at my disposal. That would have been so convenient! I wished there was some way of negotiating with the Guild!
Though I grumbled, I was also sure that I was looking at the thing from an entirely wrong perspective. By the end of the seventh day, I began to panic. I was no closer to a decision than I was seven days ago. I didn’t want to lose the room! All I knew was a list of things that couldn’t be brought into the room. Like that helped!
Today is the eighth day. I have been sitting gloomily on the floor of Passion Room since five in the morning. Outside, it would be seven o’clock now. I’ve been in the room for ten hours! I’ve decided not to go for coaching classes today. The thought cheered me!
I have been pacing up and down the room restlessly. I peered into the busy street below, everyone was moving in excruciatingly boring slow motion. The world was going about its business unconcernedly as ever, everyone intent on their own life- just like me. The owner of the paan shop across the road, Seetaram, had just arrived. Within minutes, Seetaram- a Prabhu Deva fan(atic)- would put on some fast- paced dance music loud enough to jar a couple of years of growth out of the unwary.
Many a Sunday afternoon in the pre- Passion Room days, my efforts to catch up on my sleep were thwarted by this man’s glee in generating alarming decibels of sound. I have often wanted to murder him in cold blood. Some street urchins would whoop around and valiantly try to imitate their dance idol. Not their fault, of course. The truth is, some of them did dance pretty well.
There was one boy who was a dream of a dancer. I have seen him dancing in the evening many times, on my way back from my classes. Often, I have not been able to resist joining him. The pleasure I derive from dancing with him defies description! We challenge each other; we learn from each other. The camaraderie between us- born of a common love- is amazing. Last Sunday I asked him his name. He told me he was called Siddhu… short for Siddharta. Me Gautam, he Siddharta, both names of The Buddha! We were both struck by the coincidence!
While Seetaram went about unlocking the padlocks and opening his shop for business, I could see Siddhu lurking a few feet away. He was watching Seetaram intently. I was sure he was waiting for him to put on the music. Oh, so he wasn’t going to work today either- just like I wasn’t going for classes.
I wandered away from the window restlessly. Siddhu had to wait for Seetaram to provide the music whenever he wanted to practice. If he had this Passion Room instead of me, how thrilled he would be! All he would need is a huge mirror to cover that bare wall- so that he could see if he was executing the steps correctly- and a music player. But how would he learn new moves?
Perhaps it would be better if he got a laptop with an internet connection instead of a music player. He was smart; he could learn to use the laptop within no time at all. I could teach him myself. With the laptop and a connection to the world, he’d be able to download the latest videos and watch other people dance too. I could almost feel his delight!
Siddhu was already a great dancer. He could continue working at his odd jobs and give just one hour of his time to dance every evening. One hour would convert to five hours inside the Passion Room. As his skill improves, he would be able to look for dance gigs. I was sure he would get lots of work. And he would be able to practice more and more. How he would love it! How happy he would be!
Drifting away into a happy trace, I didn’t realize when I started dancing. The music was playing in my head. I danced, lost to the world. My feet flying, my body leaping with grace and abandonment, it was barely seconds before I found my groove. It was like returning home after a full day of being imprisoned in stiffly starched clothes which scratched and lacerated my skin. It felt like heaven to get back into my nearly threadbare, faded tee, dancing for all I was worth.
I flopped down on the floor after I’d danced for almost three hours. I was exhausted yet deliriously happy. I had never danced as well as this even when I was practicing regularly. My feet seemed have a life of their own; my body was supple, vibrant and magical as a rainbow. There was nothing I could not do!
Lying there on the floor, tired yet full of energy, I stared at the ceiling of my Passion Room. It became a screen for the vibrant, pulsating visions my imagination projected on it.
I saw Siddhu dancing at weddings and parties. The image faded and I saw him performing at a gala event. Then he was on a huge cruise ship holding the patrons enthralled by his magical performance. I saw the adulation of his fans. I saw the fulfilment of his dreams. The images were so beautiful that I sat captivated, smiling happily for I don’t know how long. Time was the least of my concerns now!
As the visions deepened, my mind gathered speed and began to race. My thoughts blurred, they were moving so fast. I couldn’t keep pace with the ideas that were tumbling out in frenzy! Something seemed to snap inside me; something broke. And then there was a deluge!
Why couldn’t he set up a dance school? Why couldn’t he have his own troupe and perform all over the world? Who said movies were the only option for dancers? With the internet, was there a limit to the channels through which his work could reach people? What on earth had I been thinking all these years?! I must have been mad!
Why couldn’t he do all that and more? The sky would be the limit for Siddhu, he was a born dancer, born to dance. That’s what he was meant to do with his life. Dance was meant to be his contribution to the world. Dance was his unique voice, his North Star. JUST LIKE IT WAS MINE!
Without the quest, there can be no epiphany.
~ Constantine E. Scaros
I sat frozen. The silence crashed deafeningly within me. The most obvious, the most beautiful realization dawned on me. All the dreams I was dreaming for Siddhu, all my joyous visions, why hadn’t I ever dreamed them for me?! How easy it was to gain a reasonable perspective when you remove yourself from the equation! If all my dreams for Siddhu were judicious and realistic, why were they impossible for me? I felt as if I was filled with light and immense laughter. I glowed with the fullness of it.
What an absolute idiot I had been! My mother was so right! Giving up dance was an imbecile’s idea! How could I have imagined that giving up the most essential thing, the thing that made me ME, was even an option? What could compare with the joy of doing what I wanted to do with all my heart? Money can never be pursued, a voice whispered within me; it can only be made to follow. And, money like fame, would only follow soul- enriching passion, not cold, soulless pragmatism.
Almost delirious with happiness, I flew down the stairs to fetch Siddhu and share the dream with him. I had not only found the perfect use for Passion Room but a lot more than that.
I had found myself.