There are clichés and clichés…..but surprisingly true….I chose to draw inspiration from some of them and I must confess it has been so rewarding and life changing.
As I look back, I feel truly blessed to have gone through pain and uncertainties, else how would I savour my second innings in life !!
What is it about our society that is so moralistic in public and judgemental in private?
Why is a single parent and that too a single working mother – considered ‘social stigma ‘ in our society ?
I experienced this the day I chose to lead an independent life with my then one year old daughter Deepa. And sad but true, even Deepa was not spared the pressures exerted by our so called ‘moralistic ‘ society. I have been fortunate to have a family who supported me in my decision.
There are some incidents which get etched very strongly in our memories. I still remember Deepa’s initial schooling years, with mothers and fathers dropping their kids to school, both of them being present in the Parent Teachers Meeting. In her case, the person in shirt and trousers was missing in her life. Obviously her 4 – 5 year old brain did not know how to comprehend this. The word ‘ father’ and ‘ mother ‘ are drilled into the childrens’ brains, with ‘ father ‘ being the so called bread winner. The father’s name is their identity. She witnessed this in whom she called ‘mother’ !
As a 7 year kid confronting me….I believed in explaining the facts with no bias and I must confess with immense pride that far from being isolated and let down about being the exception, she started revelling in the fact that she was the exception.
It was a transient period thereafter, but we had one thing established by then, we had a flare for survival. And it would only be realistic to say that we had our days where we had to ask ourselves to believe’ less is more’.
The situation was not entirely fair at my workplace. Being a manufacturing sector, was male dominated and there was an initial resistance of acceptance.. My persistence and commitment paid off and of course your work speaks for itself.
What greater joy, than being part of her growing up process – her scholastic achievements, her elocution competitions, her foray into sports, being Prefect and Head girl of the school !!
And my growth in the workplace – my experiences of handling different portfolios . The opportunities of travelling to different countries (21 to date) ,contributed in enriching my life and my perceptions to life. And of course a steady rise up the hierarchy ladder and earn my rightful place in the organization.
We all know that sports is a great leveller – teaches you team spirit, discipline. We discovered Phoenix Sports , an NGO committed to promoting sports among the differently abled children. Our problems seemed so trivial, so frivolous. In associating ourselves with them, it helped mitigate our so called problems and difficulties. This inspiring associations continues…
We faced a bigger loss in this period – the demise of my father after a prolonged illness. I am forever indebted to him, for helping me make the crucial decision in my life, when I chose to lead an independent life with Deepa.
Through all this period of trials and turbulations, achievements and laurels; my mother remained a constant source of strength, support and unconditional love and sacrifice.
Eighteen is a milestone in a girl’s life – she is an adult. Deepa had completed her graduation and was set to partner up in a Latin Ballroom Dance Academy. I was in a limbo, my involvement in her day to day life was slowly diminishing. I distinctly remember the day she walked upto to me and remarked: “You have helped me realize my dream. I want to you to go ahead and pursue your dreams”.
Life begins at 50 – Thus began my second innings..
My life hitherto had been my work place and home. There was a sense of exhilaration – I wanted to do so much – drawing/painting, singing, dancing…. all of which I ‘liked’.
My first ‘ Salsa’ class – it’s a partner dance and I was feeling awkward amongst the 20’s and 30’s students. But I dared to be different. It was different from my hitherto closed existence. But I was in for a pleasant surprise… the realization that Dance knows no barriers.
And thus began my journey into dancing. The progression into different forms of Latin ballroom and other diverse forms – contemporary/jazz, hip hop and of course quintessential Bollywood.
But I was still seeking….I knew not ?
I was in Khartoum, Sudan on a business trip. A none too successful meeting, had me sitting in a quiet corner of the open air restaurant where there was a cultural show on. And then I see this lovely woman gliding across the stage and what followed was poetry in motion..work of art…belly dancing.
The next day, I managed to successfully wrap up the business . I had made up my mind.
I must confess this was “THE” decision which finally helped discover my true passion for dancing.
Back home, I enrolled myself for a belly dance workshop. Some apprehensions again – there were these young women, but my now my experience of involving in other dance forms, gave me the much needed courage to pursue this form of dancing. Of course, there was the occasional sniggers and comments on how a 50+ someone could be wriggling her body and showing her midriff..
Our traditions teach us to cover up our bodies appropriately? (definition unkown) . Belly dancing teaches you the opposite – to embrace your body ! It taught me to love my body, to be happy in my own skin, to be confident.
I was a daughter, a mother, a sister/cousin/aunt , an employee, a boss, a friend, madam…………..
But I am now CHITRA – I have my own identity. And Dance helped discover this.
I am a bird soaring high up in the sky, spreading my wings and chartering unknown territories. I have battled knee pain, slip disc, injuries, fractures, foot spur in the process. But who cares?
I am giving my best to my family, my work, I am on the road to self discovery.
I am imbibing various dance forms, attending various workshops, giving performances . I have trained in 21 dance styles in the last 6 to 7 years (most recent being Bharatnatyam) and still counting…
I must acknowledge the contribution of some of my teachers who helped me in this road to self discovery – Deepa and Ajaz Shaikh for Latin Ballroom, Veronica Simas for Belly, Henry Stevens for Contemporary/Hip hop.
I count two milestones in the current year, a fulfilment of my dreams :–
Conquering my fear of heights by making it to the top of the 3000 metres high Thajawas glacier in Sonmarg, Kashmir
Performing in the International Belly dance festival in Greece.
An often repeated question to me – How long will you continue to dance ?
I have only one answer – Till I can dance no more.
My biggest strength has and continues to be my mother and Deepa. It is exhilarating to be surrounded by the finest of women.
What next ? I want to pursue studies, do a graduate course in dancing, banish my fears of driving and swimming, pen down my experiences ….
My simple advise to all women out there:
Dare to dream. Life always offers you a second chance. Its called Tomorrow.