The Dance Teacher
“Very sorry Keya, for being late,” apologised Seher, as she entered the class and quickly went to join the others and match their steps. She was a few minutes late and she did not like it one bit. She had got stuck in the unexpected, maddening traffic that she could not control, hence the delay. It was a Bharatnatyam class that the sixty year old Seher had joined recently and already she was pretty exuberant about it. Her other classmates were all in the age group of 20–25. Her dance teacher was Keya, a chirpy girl, all of 22 years of age. The energy in the class, specially of Keya’s, was infectious and it complemented well with Seher’s will to dance. Seher loved to dance.
Seher had never learned dancing before. When she joined the class, she found how much of flexibility, of both mind and body, she required to catch up with, but that was no deterrent for her. She was improving every class and she was simply loving it. It was very sweet to interact with these youngsters, who were her dance mates. Merely being with them, infused energy in her. Keya’s sparkling eyes and enchantingly fresh smile always made her feel wonderful, wanting to be able to dance like her.
That day, Seher noticed something amiss in Keya’s eyes. They were having their water break when she couldn’t but help enquire,
“ Are you fine Keya?”
Taking a sip of water she replied,
“Couldn’t sleep well last night, so having a stiff back,” she answered and went on,
“ Actually my Mom is not too well and I am not with her, so feeling a bit low.”
“Oh! what happened to your Mom?” was the expected response from Seher. As if choosing her words Keya blurted out,
“ She is a cancer survivor.”
“So am I,” Seher replied calmly. Keya was completely taken aback.
“What? You, Seher?” She couldn’t believe it. “But even though it is about twenty years now, she has so many problems cropping up every now and then.” She left it at that.
“ It is so with me too,” was Seher’s reply. “ The problems crop up every now and then, true to their nature, and I keep dealing with them to the best of my capabilities, true to my nature,” smiled Seher. Keya was listening wide-eyed.
“Tell us about your Mom, Keya, if you don’t mind,” said Seher softly.
“ I was barely two years of age, when my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. My parents had a love marriage, which was against the wishes of both the set of families, and they had washed their hands off my parents. So my parents did not inform them or ask for any help from them. They faced it all alone. My Mom had a surgery and the usual treatment following that. She faced it all so bravely and came out a victorious survivor. Little did she know that the aftermaths of the horrible disease would keep popping up intermittently, never letting her be at peace; but the disease too did not know that my Mom would face everything like a rock. For her, she had to live for me and for my father. It has taken a toll on her in many ways, but she is moving on. So yesterday again was one of those hiccups that come to keep Mom, as well as us, reminded of the disease.” Keya took a few sips of water and said, “We should get back to class.”
“We can finish hearing what you were saying Keya,” spoke Suman, another student. The other students also echoed the same thought and Keya continued.
“ You know, I have grown up seeing my Mom fight every adversity that has come her way, and how! I have seen my father supporting her in every possible way. Both of them have brought me up with so much love and hope, without an iota of negativity towards Life, that I often wonder from where did they get all this positivity. From each other, or from their unshakeable belief in the beauty of Life? As I was growing up, the feeling to be self reliant and be strong enough to take care of my awesome parents, kept growing. My parents always encouraged my passion and from a very young age, it was dance. So after completing my graduation, I decided to come to this city of dreams, to work, even as I do my post graduation. I want to be as strong a person as my Mom, that is my dream.”
“ You already are a strong person Keya,” said Seher gently, “ To feel so much, and yet choose to be strong, is strength itself.”
“ I too have come to this city to make a place for myself so that I can take over the responsibility of my family. I lost both my parents to an accident and my grandparents have brought my younger sister and me up. To lose your own children and then shoulder their responsibility at this age, is so demanding. They have given us all the love and care that they could. Now I want to take over charge and relieve them of their responsibilities,” spoke Suman, as if to herself.
The class resumed. Seher was thinking about these two girls and how they had bared their heart out. It takes courage to do that, she knew so well. She brought herself back to the class and put her full concentration to the steps that they were supposed to follow. These so very young girls, who looked so happy and peppy, had such oceans of sadness in their hearts but the best thing was that instead of being bogged by it, they were sailing high above the waves, confidently and bravely.
The class got over. Seher bid bye to everyone while leaving when Keya said,
“ Seher, just a minute!”
She came running and hugged Seher tight. Seher took her into her arms and both stood there for a few moments.
“Take care of yourself Seher, always,” whispered a wet eyed Keya.
“Always,” assured Seher as she looked into her eyes.
Seher could still feel the warm, tight hug of her dance teacher, as she walked back home.