The stage was set — decorated with lights, like vines falling from the heaven. That day, she was her best self. It was her best performance. There was no question of the possibility of a better performance in her life.
Avyaktha would often twirl around in continuous circles, at an age where she could barely walk. And once she could, her mother took her to a teacher nearby. That’s how it started : the tatkaar (footwork), the chaal (walk) — her love affair with the art form.
She walked onto the stage, her heart excited with anxiety. She did not remember the last time she’d ever been so happy. The last time she had danced before this never-ending wait ?
She grew up with it — her first performance on stage at the age of seven. She could not stop smiling to herself as she danced away like the wind. She would participate in various cultural activities every year.
At the age of 14, she was put in a residential school for her parents had to go away for work. She fell extremely home sick — everybody and anybody found pleasure in bullying her; student or staff.
The curtains went up, and the show had begun. The music reunited with her ears and the taal with her body. She flawlessly switched into the world she’d missed so badly, as she faced her audience — the biggest she ever had.
She tried out for the annual cultural fest’s dance team, for kathak; but was rejected. The lady barely looked at her — the team had already been selected. The try-outs were merely a facade.
The hostel, her class, the school – they never accepted her. Her mother forbid her from any cultural activity — focus on your studies. She did try very hard. The following year,the school did not allow anybody from the batch to participate in the fest, keeping in mind the board exams. But by then, she had lost interest in it.
The sound of her ghungroos in congruence with the taal brought her utmost joy. She twirled like nothing could stop her – the chakras she’d practiced to perfection.
She managed to do well in her exams, and begged her parents to take her back home. She was tired of searching for tiniest pieces of happiness, and an occasional nostalgia could barely calm her mind.
In her higher secondary, she was at home — on the condition that she would only think of studies. But how could she control her thoughts? The clatter of vessels often reminded her of her ghungroo. The subjects were going beyond her head, and her life beyond control.
Her teacher watched her with pride from the side, enjoying every bit of her performance. After all, she had been teaching Avyaktha from the age of five. The transformation was incredible,and she felt happy that she had run into her student after all these years — a serendipity that sealed Avyaktha’s journey to this very stage.
Avyaktha finally fulfilled the meaning of her name — one whose life is like the Gods’ — and that is exactly what she felt at that moment. She could not draw a line between heaven and earth.
She glowed as she effortlessly did her storytelling – her feet, arms and face coordinating with her. In perfect rythm. She danced like never before, it was her story. The music went into a crescendo, and her body followed. The story was at the turning point.
The stage disappeared, the audience vanished — only the blurred remains of the red vine lights glowed. She was wind, swishing to the music, twirling and taking her whole world with her ; all of it resting on her two light feet. The curtains fell down, and the music stopped — but so did her heart.
She squinted through the hand-lens of her makeshift camera, and followed the golden stairway descending down all the way to the wet Earth. She was wearing her favorite pink pajamas and blue T-shirt she always wore the second day of her stay.
It was a part of a set of dress that had been kept aside in the Narnian wooden wardrobe, in her ancestral home. She remembers the day she had discovered her Narnia, right behind this house —much before the CS Lewis one.
She hadn’t gone there in a long time,and after the death of her Grandpa, she stopped her rare one day visits too.
She walked further into the woods, the damp mud covering her feet, taking in long aromas of the rain.
She could hear a familiar faint melody, and she rushed back towards the house. Just as she was about to step into it, through the backdoor, she felt a tight slap on her left wrist —which was at the hinge of the door.
“Where are your manners? Wash your feet before you step into my house.” said Grandpa.
She runs off to wash her feet under a tap,and rushed into the house with a glee. Grandpa gives her a stern look before slightly smiling to himself.
She was busy playing video games with her cousins at dinner—her mother running around with a plate feeding her. Then it was time to sleep. She could barely see her face in the mirror atop the washbasin. After she was done brushing her teeth, she jumped — barely managing to see a fragment of her face for a second. It was Grandpa’s mirror.
She squiggled into the bed between her cousins and closed her eyes. Mosquitos kept sucking the blood off her,and she managed to kill a few in her sleep. Then she fell into deep sleep.
She was wearing a pretty black dress,and standing at the centre of something, but there was too much smoke in the air for her to ascertain. She looked up at what looked like a glimmery moon in the night sky, rotating at a high speed; her mouth exhausting clouds of smoke into it. She was in the middle of a crowd of zombies,moving with great random rhythm —strangers.
Or were they?
The music slapped her eardrums,and she almost lost her balance for a while. All around her were people,throwing their bodies at the music against the glimmery lights, like lightning piercing the night. She stared so hard into blurred faces, searching rigorously for some glimpse of recognition.
As the music dropped to a distant subconscious level, she felt a vague sensation of elevation; her body moved involuntarily as it wished. She walked backwards slowly, drifting away from the crowd, when a voice absorbed her back with great force.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
A hand slipped around her waist, pulling her closer to a handsome face. She was unable to observe his features further, but she did feel her lips break into a smile. She danced. Danced like a three year old, as if nobody else were around. She jumped, and revolved. She flipped her head in all possible directions, her hair defying gravity. Tired, she walked away, and took a seat. The guy followed, and asked her what she’d like to have. She failed to recollect the last time people around her had been so nice to her. This new kindness from a stranger, which she couldn’t completely digest, made her suspicious. Did she know him? Were they together?
A random girl walked upto her with a glass, and started talking, as the curtains slowly went down.
She woke up with a start, and still could feel the foggyness in her head. She was on the cold floor with part of her blanket. She was panting.
Her eyes finally adjusted to the darkness around her, and she gradually recognized her room. She held her head in her hands for a second, confirming that it was indeed where it should be. She let out a long sigh, a loud whisper in the dusty silence.
She dragged herself up, kicking out the blanket entangled to her feet. The night lamp shed an eerie shadow of yellow in her room and she swept up the blanket, which had dutifully followed her as she fell from her bed. She swallowed mouthfuls of water as she sat on her bed, trying to recollect her dream.
But she didn’t remember anything, not even the part where she rolled down. She stared into the ceiling of her room, pulling up the blanket upto her eyes. Weird, she thought, or perhaps she meant interesting. The fan just went round and round. It was least bothered about whether she was still on her bed or not, whether she was still breathing or not.
It just went on and on, as long as it was fed with electricity.
Round and round and round.
Round and round.
She had to blink at least five times to be able to see anything at all, like when you stare into a tubelight for an undisrupted minute. She struggled to keep her eyes open. Her mortar skills were completely dead, yet she discovered her body was in motion. She could hear the wail of a white van.
She spotted red scratches on the van, and a few blots on a hand. A random force had transported her into the white van, which was becoming more white every moment. The wailing confused her — at one moment it was unbearable, and the very next it was barely there. Just when she would stop searching for the noise, it would blare into her ears.
A while later, a force similar to the previous one, perhaps stronger, deported her to a mobile platform. There were a lot of shuffling around her — she was not sure whether they were people or paper. A cool breeze blew her hair, but part of her hair seemed to be stuck to her forehead.
Then somebody — there were probably more than one person — swooshed her through a long neverending road. Like a train passing by another train. But she was not sure anymore if she was the stationary train or the one in motion.
Then she saw the sun. In a room. A bulb?
The sun melted into concentric patterns,and she heard somebody say, “We’re losing her…..nu…”
Is this my end?
She woke up early in the morning, died, and came back to life after she realised she had mistaken the chair to be a stranger in her room. She opened the blinds just enough to let her desired amount of sunlight rush in.
Amaya was between The Great Wall of China – her father, and the Fortress – her mother. Both were sound asleep, but she was wide awake. It was Sunday – her play day, the only day when she woke up on time, while her mother happily slept. But play was nowhere in her mind. Somebody was grumbling, and she was very sure that it was not her tummy.
The noise was coming from beyond the Great Wall, and she slowly peeked over it. And there, at the door of her bathroom stood a shabby Sand Monster, growling angrily, or maybe hungrily – she could not tell.
“Amma! Amma! Wake up. There is a Monster in our bathroom. It will eat us.” , she cried.
“There are no monsters Amu, come here.” , said her sleepy mother, and pulled Amaya closer to her.
However reassuring the gesture had been, she could still see it’s hand extend out to get the three of them. It could step out of the bathroom anytime.
And then there was a loud crash, followed by a heavy downpour – overwhelming every other noise. She peeked over the Fortress, at the window, as the drops catapulted over the window to reach her.
The bathroom was empty once again. She went back to sleep with a smile, mentally jotting down that Sand Monsters are scared of her best friend.