Last Sunday was special. It was the day, my dear student, Nivedita, along with her Guru’s daughter, Sandhya, was to perform ‘Arangetram’ in Fine Arts’ auditorium.
Nivedia had been studying under me for close to two years, and of late, had become close to me. What I had liked about this young girl was: she was extremely committed to whatever she would take up, be it studies, sports or dance. There wasn’t any unnecessary aggression or unrealistic expectation from her about herself… She seemed to know her strengths and weaknesses as well and did always approach her goals with a balanced perspective about success. Besides, she would be extremely polite, respectful and least critical. Negative words about others, would never be heard from her mouth. At least, I haven’t. She would respect other people’s time and never ever keep them waiting. In short, she was an ideal all rounder that I would love to have as my student. And, yes, as my daughter, too.
On Sunday, Nivedita danced like a Goddess. There was passion exuding from her being. There was grace and poise adorning her. One couldn’t miss acknowledging the dedication and effort that had gone behind such a spectacular performance. I knew, she would come out brilliant, and she did. And, rightfully, she won our hearts and the accolades.
There were times, before her ‘Arangetram’, Nivedita would open up before me about her anxieties and fears. I would remind her saying that it was a happy occasion for her, her teacher and their families, and we all would be there to share in their joy. I would tell her that it wasn’t a ‘ticket show’ and she had nothing to prove to any one… That, all she had to do was to dance her heart out on Sunday. I would remind her that she had nothing to lose when she would simply surrender to the voice of her heart and not any one else’s. I would also remind her that it was her good fortune to have supporting parents, grand parents, teachers, brother and friends who kept believing in her. That, she had to feel immensely grateful for this privilege and this attitude of gratitude was necessary for a graceful performance. I am happy that Nivedita took my advice… and, gave it back to all her dear ones through her scintillating performance. Both my wife and I left the auditorium a lot moved by this young soul’s rendering… and, with incredible amount of pride in our hearts.
I sent a message of greetings the moment I left the auditorium, very well knowing that she would not be able to read it before midnight. Even my wife said, “She is so tied up with so many people out there… I don’t think she would be able to read it.”. I heeded to my heart:
U were grace, poise and elegance personified.
Ma’am was hugely impressed.
Our love & and blessings, once again.
Thanks for the magical evng.
After the Arangetram, we decided to watch the English Movie - ‘Real Steel’ at IMAX. The show was at 8.30 and we had some time. We spent it at the Crosswords book store at IMAX. And, while we were there, I got the surprise reply from Nivedita:
“Thank u sir, for all ur wishers and blessings...
Thank aunty too. She was luking damn pretty.
Thank u so much sir, once agn…
It means a lot.
It was just over half-an hour since I sent my message. I held the cell phone before my wife to read. She blushed.
That was our Nivedita! One who always lived by her big heart!
Watching movies with an IMAX experience is always an out-of-the world experience for me. Be it A.R. Rehman’s ‘Vande Mataram’ or James Cameron’s ‘Avataar’. I would feel the goose bumps, for sure. That night, when we stood up for the National Anthem, I did not imagine, even in my wildest dreams, that I would end up getting chills in my spine, and my heart would stop for a while! I had never watched this rendition of National Anthem ever before. Oh God, those B & W images of little children at a school assembly. Only that the school was of Special Children. I had never ever bothered to think, in all my fifty-three years of life, how these children sing the National Anthem, how they understand its meaning, feel the pathos, show their emotions… I had never thought such things in life existed - such children, such schools, such assemblies, such rendering of National Anthem. Yes, there was the familiar tune, the vibrant – full-throated and passionate – action on the giant screen; there were the breath-taking visuals and heart-breaking music… but, all these without the familiar lyrics of ‘Jana Gana Mana…!’ When it ended, I was still standing, lost in a tearful world. The world I did not know existed. I felt like calling out to Nivedita, “Dear, this was the privilege I was talking about… This was the reverence, the gratitude… Please, dear, thank tonight the Almighty God who has Protected you, the loving parents who have nursed you, the benevolent teachers who have patiently shaped you… and all those friends who have believed in you. Say ‘thank you’.”
The night was really special, divine. I felt the touch of All-Merciful God… I knew I was lucky to be ‘spared’… I felt the same for Nivedita, my dear student, who had, hours earlier, had made all of us feel special with her stellar rendition on stage. I felt the need, more than ever before, to feel grateful for all my blessings and graceful in all my moments of agony. I felt like crying aloud in the midst of the darkness – “Hey, it’s alright; it is really alright.”
Just the day before, I had met Anita*, who I had taught about twenty-five years ago. She was a college professor now, and she would always tell me that she took up teaching because of me. That I was her role model and would send me greetings on every Guru Purnima Day and every Teachers’ Day. But, I had not met her for more than three years, now. So, when I saw her that morning, I immediately complimented her, saying “Wow, Anita, all new look. You look really great in this hair cut. It suits you...” Anita blushed and managed to say, “Thank you, sir.” Then we spoke on many things for over ten minutes and just before we would part ways, I said to her, “So Anita, see you; keep in touch…And, keep up this hair cut, too.”
I though it was one of the warmest compliments I was showering upon a well-deserving lady, who was once my dear student and who proudly called me her ‘Hero’. Maybe because of this special bond that we shared, Anita gently told me this: “Sir, no one knows this except my family and a very select friends, that I was diagnosed with Cancer in 2009. I hope, I still look ‘great’ in my hair cut!”
Now, what would you call such moments in life? How, would you collect your words? Mostly, in such situations, you end up getting ‘comforted’ by the other person. Anita did exactly the same: “It if fine, sir. Forty-five solid years; what else can you ask for? I am grateful.”
Well, that was one of the most painful ‘good-byes’ I had ever given to any one. Anita stayed in my mind for day long. All that I could manage to do was a spontaneous message:
“Anita, I really admire ur grit and grace;
‘Life is beautiful’… I hope you keep saying this.
Thank u, for touching my life.
With my love, wishes and prayers… Sir.”
Anita promply replied:
“Thank u, sir.
Life IS beautiful…
Thanks for your love, wishes and prayers.”
Nivedita is expected to be here, today at 3, for her class. I haven’t met her after the ‘Aarngetram’. So, I am eager not only to meet her, but also to share these breath-taking experiences with her. This piece is for her… It is my heart-rendering on a stage called LIFE. Yes, it is my ‘Aangetram’.
I have always wondered as to what makes us ‘teachable’ in life.
It is just that they call me a ‘teacher’. I alone know – who I am.
With loads of love and best wishes, to you, Niv… May you remain an eternally ‘teachable’ soul… And, yes, may you never lose the sense of wonder… May you always stand by the ocean and feel how small you are!