Sai Padma Murthy
A child-woman entered my life…
On a sunny day not so bright…
Me so down with daily routine tight…
Looking like ten or twelve in age..
You can never tell when you gaze
Frustrated and slated to go for the day..
I want a quick bit of her life..
So I can update the strict data
I try to maintain…
A day that turning into dawn
Danced on her mud streaked face..
Some graffiti on her glistening dress
With so many beads n crystals
Falling some.. Staying some..
I was taken aback by her earnest look
Eagerness for an inclusion
Hovering like the hair framing her face
I tried to be polite… and energetic…
Not so easy trying to profile kids
Carelessly I asked… What your daddy do?”
She said…”No daddy…”
I sat a bit tight and right…
What your mummy do?..
I heard my voice trying to match her innocent
Arresting looks…Mamma…mumbled the girl…
Mamma…is a dancer..
Oh!! I thought…a dancer from village..?
I tried to use my intelligence…
No dear…what she does?…go to labor work…?
Straight reply came…Yes madam..”she is labor dance”
Ridiculed and tired..I probed ..What labor dance..?
Suddenly I noticed a rough hand on girls shoulder..
“She is recording dancer madam…!!”
A man in thirties… Silken shirt and sweaty smell..
Who gave me a start…many unanswered questions..
Entertainment akin to exploitation
Dancing away youth and middle age..
Not so safe wooden stages..
Unending shows in farthest villages..
Wedding rituals… Traditional festivals
Dancing girls…. To the tune of life records
Some old songs..some new
Like the facets of their life..
Golden hues of love…. To viperous looks of lust..
Dancing away all at one go..
All for a garland of green green notes..
Head count only of votes….
I came to my senses with a “Madam” in a child voice..
Shooing away the man standing behind…
I saw a flicker of trust in child eyes
My heart moaned… with such tender emotion..
A nameless fear to see the trust..
I looked at my record sheet…
Unable to concentrate.. only one detail left..
Child’s life time ambition…
Hesitantly I mumbled.. What you want to be dear??
Another speed answer… I want to be an engineer!!
Nonplussed …. I heard my “ Why??”
First time the child couldn’t see eye-to eye..
A quiver in her voice… “ I love my mother!”
“She fractured her legs many times…wooden dais break madam”
A ray of confidence now in her voice..
“ I no dancer…I become Engineer”
Still dying with a curiosity.. a voice in me asked..
“Why only Engineer???”
She looked at me.. incredulously..
Teaching me a life I never really know in real..
“ I build good wood dais for many dancing mummy’s!”
I was speechless
The wind echoing the determination of woman
So personified in the child..
I wished to touch her feet…but..
I gathered her in my arms..
Moist heart and bright eyes
For a safe life of her mother…
And many dancing mothers…to the tunes of life..!!!
[Recording Dancers and Dances are common in villages of Andhra Pradesh. These dancers once used to be a trained dancers in traditional skills like Bharatha Natyam etc.. But over the time, the poverty in the dancing community and less people coming in to this profession made this dancing limited to film songs. They dance as troupes mimicking popular film artists. They perform in village festivals and affluent family weddings in village areas. The woman who are in this profession, are the worst treated as per my experience as a social entrepreneur goes. They are neither prostitutes nor affluent dancers. But the treatment they get from the public and health hazards they face is a story in themselves.. many continue to do this work though it’s a seasonal one, just to support their health and their kids future! Its my tribute to many great mothers who face humiliation and suppresses it all behind the thick make-up and place their heart in the right place! This is also my understanding and narrative of the children lives brought up in the households with most unruly timings and concern for health of their mothers. ITS POETIC ADAPTATION OF REAL LIFE INTERVIEWS TAKEN BY MR.PRAGNANANAD – SPM]
©Sai Padma ://IPR: all rights reserved