SHE, THE DANCERHer copper brown hair will start to fall out in thick lumps and it will be impossible to keep the fragmented patches of remaining hair. So one day she will come to you with her shaved head
You will come across her while attending to a dance show during your final year at high school. She will be wearing a blue-white vertically striped dress. Her hair will be a casual ponytail bunched inside a yellow rubber band. She will have kohl black oblique eyes and a strange way of narrowing them as though trying to read some faraway signs. She will not talk to anybody. She will indifferently float her way to take a seat in an empty chair by you. She will sit down with an elbow on the table and her perfectly chiseled face will be cupped in the palm of her hand. She will look around the corners as though considering striking up a conversation with the walls and the curtains. She will not look up at the stage and you will not look away from her. “Got a matchstick?” She will ask you, still looking into a far corner. You will pull out a matchbox from your pocket and hand it over to her. She will light up a cigarette sending out spirals of white smoke. She will not return your matchbox and you will pretend you don’t care about it.
“Like to dance with me?” she will mumble a question to you, letting out curls of smoke from her mouth and nostrils. “Don’t tell me you do not know how to dance.”
At that particular instant you will regret many things, almost everything. You will repent all those long frustrating hours you will have spent studying mathematics and physics. You will think how wonderful it would have been had you learnt to drift and swirl around elegantly in circles and ellipses instead of having learnt to find their equations. That will make you hate mathematics more than ever. “I don’t know any moves,” you will somehow manage.
“Neither did I when I first came here,” she will smile, and her cheeks will pit into two little magnificent dimples. “Needn’t worry. I will teach you.”
At about midnight, the show will conclude. The last item will be hers. She will dance to the beats of a popular Hindi song, Madhuwala. And you will be entirely gripped by her mind-blowing performance. Her graceful movements and the enigmatic bending and arching of her different body parts and her artistic expressions will ensnare you. You will fall for her.
“Tomorrow, this very time,” she will remind you while parting.
That night you will not sleep. Or maybe you will not be able to sleep. You will play with all the blissful prospects that the future held in store for you. You will impatiently want the dawn to tear open. Time will drag slowly and you will lose your temper. The more impatient you grow, the slower time will stagger along.
But it will not stop, time.
The next day, when you will meet her she will not be the fashionable girl you saw the day before. Her rumpled shirt will be buttoned wrong and her shoelaces will be untied. Her hair will be tangled and wildly kempt. However she will appear more gorgeous than ever. She will welcome you with her dimpled smile. You will talk to her about the types of dances you love. She will comment on your choices. You will like her comments, although you will find no particular reason for your liking. After a while, she will start by teaching you the basic dance steps. As days progress, you will discover that you dance physically when with her and emotionally when not with her. Soon you will realise that she has inspired a great dance in your heart.
Gradually, you will get addicted to her. To her almond-shaped eyes.To her bow-shaped eyebrows.To her charming smile.To her copper brown hair and to her sparrow-sweet voice. So every day you will go forth into her world to forge an unbreakable relation of love. To frame an eternal bond.
Soon you will begin to go out together, and one day you will smuggle her into your room. You will talk to her about your dreams and tell her that your greatest aspiration is to marry her. She will smile and kiss you on your lips. It will be the type of kiss that demands kissing back. So you will kiss her harder. After a while she will unbutton her shirt and you will yours. Both of you will lie there, skin to skin. Her paleness against your brownness. She will smell of old rose petals. You will stroke her copper brown hair, letting your fingers stray through her scalp, allowing them to dance on her heart-shaped red lips. And she will love that. She will pull you impossibly closer and whisper into your ears, “Dear Robin, I love you more than anything I ever loved.” “I love you too,” you will say and do the best thing you will have ever done.
Time will pass in a great rush. Years will glide away swiftly without a glitch. Yet each moment you will spend with her will be carved deep in your heart. Once you will dance with her in a grand show which will be appreciated by several people. It will be the best day of your life.
And time will continue its never
It will be a gloomy evening. You will be in your room when she will come to you and inform you that she has blood cancer. At first you will not believe her but when you will look into her eyes you will know that she is serious. Instantaneously an incomprehensible fluid ache of fear will ripple through you. Tears will attempt to leak from the corners of your eyes but you will manage to stop them.
“Are you afraid?” She will ask you.
“I don’t know, sweetie,” you will
reply. Then you will hold her right hand and gently caress it. “Don’t worry, dear, things will change.”
Things will really change but not the way you will have thought. The demon of her illness will inevitably start to devour her. Day by day she will grow frail and weak. The red of her lips will fade to dark blue hue and her hair will start to fall
out. Her voice will become feeble and inaudible, and it will need a lot of work for her to even utter your name. But you will not give up. You will do your best to provide her the best available medical treatments. You will pray for hours to god but he will not listen to you. The disease will win the battle and you will be able to do nothing. One night, alone in a little corner, you will cry for your angel.
Her copper brown hair will start to fall out in thick lumps and it will be impossible to keep the fragmented patches of remaining hair. So one day she will come to you with her shaved head, her beautiful tangles of copper gone. She will hurl herself into your arms and sob like a little baby. This time you will cry too. Later that day you will go to her parents and request them to let you keep her with you. They will allow it. You will look after her like a mother caring for her sick child. You will not sleep for days and nights, and stay by her bed and sing songs for her. And tell stories too.
“Why do you love me so much?”
she will ask you.
“Because,” you will reply with tears dribbling down along your cheeks, “I was born for that. Because the lord created me to look after his most precious angel that you really are.”
“Will you dance with me?” You will ask her one night.
She will smile and agree.
You will help her stand and then lift her lightly in your arms. She will loop her hands around your neck while you play the music player. It will be her best music, your best music. Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Both of you will gracefully drift about in arcs and curves performing the world’s best dance. You will wish to freeze this moment, to stop time and stretch it to infinity. But time is a dedicated marathon runner; it will not stop. She will place her head on your shoulders and completely give herself to you. You will embrace her like your most precious gift. A gift that will soon be taken away. You will hold her like that in your arms for hours and watch her sleep on your shoulders. You will never forget that night.
A few weeks later, on a cool, silent morning, your love and the best dancer you will ever see will breathe her last.
Now whenever you will hear the song, Madhuwala, the stage will rise in front of you and there she will be—dancing. But this time she will not be alone.