Every now and then, I sit back and reflect on fond memories that are etched on my brain. A few top the elite list – a teacher, who was too reckless; and another – who was too-good-to-be-true.
While growing up, my biggest fear was to be on the stage, all by myself. As confident as the rising sun, I used to diligently practice my speech until the D-day. Repeating each time, I made the slightest stutter. I would neither sweat nor fret until they would call my name on ‘the stage’. Then, time would freeze, so did my feet. I would find myself in a room where the air seemed to have been mercilessly sucked out. I could hear no other sound apart from my thumping heart. In that moment of disorientation, a few words would echo – loud and clear, like coming from a loudspeaker – ‘You can do it!’, and every time I could not. I used to wonder, how things became normal the minute I would get off the stage. At that age, I was naïve and vocabulary-challenged to understand that it was just ‘stage fright’. Some fear the darkness, the heights, and I simply feared the sudden bombardment of attention.
Now, I sense is the time when I should introduce you to – the-ones-who-must-not-be-named – the reckless teacher, and the one who was too-good-to-be-true. I’d call them Mr. Axe and Ms. Spade, respectively.
Mr. Axe, like his name, was reckless and sharp-edged. Unlike his demeanor, his passion was sober and melodious. He was my music teacher. Like an old field marshal from the medieval times, he would gather his troops, and would beseech them in case of single missing sergeant. One fine day, it happened to be my day of detention. I was barred from taking classes for choosing an instrumental class over vocals. And in my teenage fury, I chose to stop singing indefinitely.
I wish I had met Ms. Spade before, to make a wise choice. She was my literature teacher and being as eloquent as she was, she said- ‘When the whirlwind takes you along, don’t shudder or flutter. If you try to fight the stronger, while you’re weak, you may succumb. At times, all you must do is surrender, but only momentarily. To find some time – to observe the powerful, to learn from him, and later battle him to bruises.’
Months later, audition flyers were sent out for a musical play – ‘The Lion King’. A dream come true for any drama queen. I had to face the dreadful ‘stage’ again, and only the best monologues could bag the best roles. While Mx. Axe conveniently called a spade a spade, and left the scene. I was sure, Ms. Spade would never axe me in the times of dismay. For the next two weeks, she made me read a news bulletin during assemblies. On day 1 – I almost blended the weather report with the national news, but soon things started to fall in place. Being true to her name, she paused time again, and dug out the best in me. The day I performed my monologue without a stutter, was the day I finally found – faith in my abilities, and courage to acknowledge my fears.
And just like any other fairy tale, I successfully bagged a role. Considering this isn’t a Bollywood flick, I didn’t get the lead role, but it was definitely a good lead for me.
Credits- Ms. Spade, and Mr. Axe!