Passion for Dance (Kathak)
I still remember the day when Vallarie (age 4 yrs) was very sad because her painjan (silver anklets with tiny bells) had broken. It was one piece of jewellery that she dearly loved. Now at eighteen, when I see her perform Kathak – I knew that the love for paijan or 'shoom-shoom' as she had named them, was much beyond the adornment it provided.

At 7 years when she had once gone for her regular evening stroll with her grandma (my mother), she heard the sound of ghungaroos (tiny bells used on ankles for the tinkling sound, by Indian classical dancers), she asked my mother to take her there. In a school classroom they found a lady teaching children and adults - Kathak. It soon became regular for them to stay back at the class and watch the dance training. Seeing her interest my mother ventured ahead and asked the teacher – Guru Mrs. Maneesha Sathe, if Vallarie could join. The teacher asked what Vallarie’s age was, and said she could not enrol her as she was not yet eight.

I was a little disturbed and felt why was this lady curbing the enthusiasm of my child? Wasn’t she killing her interest? My questions were answered most patiently by Maneeshatai – she said that she believes that the child is not physically and mentally prepared to go through the rigors of long practice sessions. And often this could make the child get ‘bored’ with the repetitive nature of the practise session. And in fact it was this early induction that could kill her interest!

This made a lot of sense to me and we decided to wait. The topic of dance was soon forgotten and Vallarie and my mom soon changed their route for their evening walks.

But what surprised me most when after the celebrations of her 8th birthday, and having gone over all her gifts Vallarie asked if we could go and enrol for the dance class. I could not believe this – a topic that we had not spoken of for the past 7 months! What amazed me that she had kept this in her heart for so long?

It’s been ten years since and I have witnessed 10 years of dedication to Kathak. Each time I watch her perform for a small programme or a competition I do not see my child dancing, but a dancer performing from her soul. And it reaches out to me, sitting way back in the audience, holding back that lump in my throat.The hug at the end of each performance is what I cherish the most today.