Monday, December 29, 2008


It was a late night meeting, in a café in Khan Market, one of the happening places in Delhi. I was nervous as hell.

I had to dress the part, which meant I could not wear a traditional, nondescript salwar-kameez and merge into the environment. My dress had to make a statement, so also my make-up, to go with what I intended doing that night.

I decided, once I was ready, that I looked good in the lacy white top, black pants and red lipstick. My son walked in and said, “It would be better if you draped a stole around your shoulders while walking in Khan Market.” He smiled. He knows how to drive a point home without creating a crack on the surface. Since there was a slight chill in the air, I could carry a stole, and frantically began searching for one. Unable to do so at the spur of the moment, I settled for a colourful chunni, a long scarf worn with the salwar, the purpose being the same, to hide prominent parts of the female anatomy. “I will remove the scarf once I enter the restaurant,” I asserted, and my son nodded, “Of course.”

The café was milling with people, a lot of them youngsters. Amongst them, of assorted ages and professions, were about twenty-five of us. It was our writer’s group meet, but it was supposed to be an evening of ‘performance’ and not mere ‘recitation’. The audience was not restricted to writers alone; anyone could listen, watch and comment later.

We sat around our mochas, cappuccinos, chicken /cheese wraps or one-eyed burgers and individually read, recited or performed to a receptive but critical audience.

When I stood up to perform, I was applauded for being enterprising enough, since many had got cold feet and read from wherever they were seated. Shivering and quaking on my high heels, I plunged into the performance with as much gusto as I could.

I finished with the last line of my poem, “I am not that kind of girl,” and was met with stunned silence and then applause all around. Happiness flooded over me, warming my body and face. My first attempt at performance poetry was a hit.

The amount of effort I had to put in not so much in the performance but into convincing myself that I could do it and I would not know ‘where I stood with myself’ unless I stood up to perform, is unbelievable.

After the fear and the nervousness, the adrenaline rush which came over me at that instant of appreciation is staying with me, encouraging me to do more gigs like this. I have taken another step in conquering the doubts and apprehensions that assail me, especially at my age.

Plunging into performance, I have released another fountain of my youthful spontaneity.

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