Nitya Singh aspires to be a Kathak dancer. Waking up at 5 to practice before she goes to school, is as natural to her as breathing.
Although because of her shy nature, she never found the courage to tell others that she is a dancer. But that is going to change. She is going to perform this time in front of all, at her school’s annual function.
There were times when she used to get stressed up thinking she would never be what she wanted. Those were the times when her parents used to back her up and motivate her to keep going. They believed in her when she couldn’t do it for herself.
She should be happy that she is finally coming out as a dancer but she couldn’t help being nervous. Even though she wanted to be happy, excited, and even proud, she couldn’t. It will be her first solo. And she is more nervous, even scared than anything else.
“How’s your practice going?” Diksha, her classmate, asked.
It is going well, she replied. “But why aren’t you performing?”, she asked Diksha, who is quite popular as their school’s Nightingale.
“I’m not meant for singing,” Diksha replied smilingly as if it’s not a big deal. Diksha, who always disturbs everyone with her melodious voice, is leaving singing just like that.
Although Nitya found this unusual, she didn’t comment.
Her mind went on the shopping trip she took with her father last weekend. She loves to shop with him and this time is special, it is her solo, after all.
“Dad, this dress is not giving the right vibe,” she complained to her father, who’s holding a sky blue Anarkali.
“I was thinking the same, but I don’t think the salesman has any other dresses,” Mr. Singh reminded her. While thinking, they have to go home empty-handed, a mannequin in a gorgeous deep red Anarkali caught the eyes of the father-daughter combo. And their smiling faces made it clear, the perfect dress has been found.
“Nitya, you have to be present along with other performers in the auditorium,” Miss Jaya, reminded her, bringing her out of her daze. Today the students will perform in front of the management.
“Yes ma’am, I will be on time.” Nitya assured her.
When she reached home that day, Mrs. Singh didn’t understand what happened to her daughter’s mood. Nitya informed her about not performing in the annual function anymore. Then she went straight to her room.
“Maybe she is not meant for the stage.” That was the first murmur, she heard when she fell on the stage, as she lost her balance, the first time. She stood again, with her head high, and started her performance. She was halfway through her performance when she fell again.
“Not everyone can be a good dancer,” they said. Is she not a good dancer? Are they speaking the truth? Such questions filled her mind. This time she didn’t even notice when the song started. “She better quit than embarrass herself like this,” she heard one of her classmates say.
She couldn’t do this. Maybe they are right. Maybe she is not meant for the stage just like Diksha isn’t meant for singing. She is stupid to not believe the fact. Remembering those awful minutes, she felt like crying again.
So, she did. She cried herself to sleep, desperately hoping to forget everything that happened.
Nitya isn’t performing anymore, but that doesn’t make her stop her practice for even a single day. But today, on the day of the annual function, she is thinking of what could she be doing if she hadn’t quit.
She noticed her father at the threshold when she was untying her ‘ghungroo’ after her practice. Though Nitya didn’t tell her parents why she was withdrawing, she knew that Miss Jaya called them. “Why are you still practicing if you don’t want to perform?” Mr. Singh asked.
“I am not meant for the stage that doesn’t change my love for Kathak,” she replied in a small voice, with a sad smile.
“Where did that come from?” She wanted to argue, but her father continued.
“Miss Jaya told us what happened. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for the thing you wanted.”
“Dad…” she tried to speak.
“Listen Nitya, I know it’s your decision but ask yourself if you truly believed in what you heard then will you be still waking up this early, to do your practice?”
When she didn’t reply even after a few moments, Mr. Singh sighed, “Just be true to yourself.” he said and left her alone with her thoughts. She was thinking about what he said. Those words make complete sense, but…
Yes, she thought there is still a ‘but’ holding her back. And since there’s no school today, for ‘non-participants’ she couldn’t find any distraction.
The Singhs had an invitation to the ceremony but Nitya didn’t want to go.
Finally, she decided to text Diksha. They chatted for about 15 minutes on random topics, then Diksha told her she has a class to attend.
‘Today is a holiday for us, stupid,’ Nitya typed.
‘I know, and I have a sketching class. I wanted to be an artist.’
‘(Laughing emoticon) you are joking, right? You are below average at drawing.’ Nitya typed her reply.
‘Yeap, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go after what I want (eye-winking emoticon)’
Nitya’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets after reading that message.
‘Why did you leave singing?’ Nitya hasn’t actually asked that. She just assumed.
What if her assumption was wrong?
The message notification brought her back to focus on the chat.
‘Oh that, it is my hobby Nitya, not my passion. Okay bye, I am getting late for my class.’
She started crying but for a totally different reason. In the last few days, she cried because she was quitting and that hurts. And now because it was too late.
She ran into the living room and saw her parents talking.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said to them with tears in her eyes.
“Don’t cry Nitya. Everything is fine,” Mrs. Singh consoled her.
“No mummy, it’s too late and I want to perform,” Nitya argued.
“Do you truly want to perform today?,” asked Mr. Singh, as if her ‘yes’ could change anything. She backed out herself.
“Yes,” she replied, she is going to be honest with herself this time.
“Then go to your room, wear your anarkali, we will have to leave in an hour if we don’t want to get late.” Mr. Singh announced.
With a confused look on her face, she turned to her mother. “We requested Miss Jaya to save your spot,” Mrs. Singh beamed proudly.
Nitya grabbed both of them in a group hug, “you guys are the best.”
“You know what I’m going to do… I will wear my red anarkali, go to that stage and make you guys proud,” Nitya declared.
Her parents hug her even tighter, they were already proud of her for overcoming her fears.
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