Mrs. Madhura Pathak was a bold lady having high social, moral and spiritual values. She was considered as the ‘Sarpanch’ of her society; someone who would be involved in solving small disputes among other society members and maintaining harmony and unity in the society. She was an influential social figure and everyone in the society listened to her with great reverence. Her Husband, Mr. Abhijeet Pathak, was rather a quiet figure who smoked his pipe and enjoyed reading his newspaper. These days he used to keep himself clocked up with the stock market updates after taking a recent voluntary retirement as a bank manager. Often on Sundays, he also enjoyed sitting with his daughters giving real-time maths problems and emphasizing the importance of Maths in the real life.
The Pathaks had three lovely daughters- Gauri, Monika, and Shaivya who were 16, 14 and 12 years old respectively. Mrs. Pathak, with her influential personality, was largely responsible for the upbringing of their daughters, as her husband was mostly engaged with his own work. She had designed a tight schedule for them and ensured that all of her three daughters were engaged in some work or the other, keeping them busy all the time. She often used to tell her daughters, “I think you will be a good Doctor, Gauri. You have the caring touch. You Monika would be a good Engineer as you are soo good with your Maths. Shaivya, what would you want to be when you grow up- a Doctor or an Engineer?”
“I want to be a dancer!”, said Shaivya in a sharp confident voice, “I like to dance, I wanna be a dancer.”
“Well, the way you argue you could be a really good lawyer!”, said Mrs. Pathak as she tilted her brows giving her a stern look.
Their housing society had planned to organize a grand celebration this year on Dussehra as it was the society’s 25th anniversary. For this event, the society had asked a famous choreographer to help the society members to perform for the grand event. The three daughters were really excited to perform for this event. “Mr. Parekh, the choreographer, will take a small test of your dancing skills tomorrow and will give you roles accordingly. I want you all to practice a small piece by which you can win yourself a good role for the play on the grand event.”
The word ‘Test’ had a frightening effect on little Shaivya’s mind as she related this audition to her school maths tests. “I got scared at the big stage.”, She cried as she knew that she was not selected for the dance performance. However, Mr. Parikh gave her a favor by keeping her for a small role in the play. Monika with her precise movements was thought fit for the front row in the dance performance for the play. Mrs. Pathak was overwhelmed to know that her eldest daughter, Gauri would play the role of the Devi in the play, that was held just before the dance.
After the practices began, Shaivya had to face a viral fever because of which she was further sidelined from the play as she missed a few of her initial practice sessions. It was not too late when Mr. Parekh had warned Shaivya that he would soon put her out of the play if she wouldn’t improve on her part. To Shaivya, the practice session seemed similar to her Maths class as she felt that she was brought to the class only to be scolded by her trainer. However, there was something in the play which attracted her attention – it had an element of music and dance. The event concluded with a dance performance after the play where the devotees danced to pay their patronage of their Devi.
Though Shaivya wasn’t a part of the dance performance, she enjoyed watching her elder sister, Monika practicing her dance moves. She liked it soo much that soon she started practicing the steps on her appartment’s terrace. On one such occasion, while she was practicing her moves with the music, she heard a shout, “You are doing it all wrong.” It was Vivek, the 13-year-old kid, who was a front row performer in the dance section of the play. The boy joined Shaivya in her practice session and taught her the steps. They enjoyed each other’s company as they started having the pre-practice session on a daily basis.
As the two had been practicing together for a while, Shaivya could now dance as good as anyone in the front row. But, dance was something that she always wanted to do and she couldn’t be limited only by the steps that the thirteen-year-old was teaching her. Shaivya was now practicing not only the steps that Vivek taught her but also steps that were her own invention. She danced with the same music but it was a unique and a special dance form. Vivek couldn’t understand the new steps and so he tried to correct her every time she did a move which was different from the one choreographed by Mr. Parikh.
A day prior to the Grand Event when Mr. Parikh had already given his final suggestions and tips to the performers of the play and now everyone seemed excited to attend the evening function which was supposed to take place on the terrace. However, Vivek and Shaivya both thought that the event was futile and considered it a good opportunity to practice some dance moves together. As the terrace was occupied, Shaivya decided to take Vivek to her apartment. After practicing for 3-4 hours, Shaivya said to Vivek. “I think I am ready now with the full song.”
“Ready? I think you were a lot better a month ago and now you seem to add moves from your own which is completely wrong.”, said Vivek.
“There is nothing wrong or right in dance.”, Shaivya explained. “I want you to see my complete performance from a different prospective, not the way Mr. Parikh taught you”.
She then showed Vivek her complete performance. Though the basic steps that she followed were that of Mr. Parikh but she took it to a completely different level. Vivek was mesmerized by her performance and he was convinced immediately that Shaivya should perform at the Grand Event next day.
When Mrs. Pathak returned home from the function she was surprised to see a boy dancing with her daughter in her apartment. She immediately called her daughter and interrogated her, ”Why were you not at the special function? What is this boy doing in my House?”
“We were practicing. He is from our dance crew for tomorrow’s event and he was teaching me the steps.”, Shaivya replied in a terrified voice.
“You are not even in the dance crew.”, said Mrs. Pathak.
“Her dance is exceptional”, Vivek interrupted.
“I want you to go back to your house and I want you, Shaivya, to practice only the part which Mr. Parikh gave you.“, scolded Mrs. Pathak as she got herself engaged in other works.
“I ll make sure that you perform tomorrow. Just find a crown which looks similar to the one Gauri has.”, whispered Vivek.
“No, I am scared to perform on the big stage with soo many people staring at me.”, said Shaivya.
“Don’t worry, I ll handle that for you.”, said Vivek as he left Shaivya in a confused yet excited state.
Vivek chad an idea. He knew that it would be next to impossible to persuade Mr. Parikh on the big day to consider Shaivya’s performance. So, he decided to let the audience have their opinion on her performance. He instructed Shaivya to dress up as close as she could to Gauri’s outfit after her part gets over on the play; then to switch on the projector light behind the stage when the music began. So, the projector would project the dancing girl on the background of the stage as the rest of the kids performed on the stage.
Vivek’s idea worked well and everyone in the crowd admired the performance of the dancing girl and the concept of the larger image of the Devi performing with its devotees and talking the dance form to a different level. As far as Mr. Parikh is concerned, his last words after the show were, “I knew Shaivya is a Gem and so I saved her from everyone for the Big day.”