I was 17, as part of the college curriculum we were assigned to do a photo shoot in nrityagram, a traditional dance academy on the outskirts of Bangalore. Me along with some 20 others made the trip. A recluse, aloof, a perfect example of a rebel Without a cause and without any direction whatsoever, I was just stumbling through college while I made this trip, on the Threshold of adulthood I was standing with many dreams and many ideals. But the last thing on my mind was getting a college Degree, making a living, getting rich and all the jazz. But something quite extraordinary happened that day, which may have very well changed the course of my life. The 3 degrees of separation, and I live today in a complete different world as a totally different person.
Nrityagram, is a spot of beauty, a great place for lovers of dance to pursue that one form of art above all others and totally sacrifice all else for perfection in dance. A daunting task. Training everyday for 8-10 hours, living every moment at the command of the master, it’s a place where individual will is surrendered at the feet of the master, a life of abstinence and total devotion.
Quite far from abstinence & spirit of sacrifice with not a fiber of hard worked nerve in my body, I was walking through the many corridors with the eyes of a lens man when I came across that which is unjust to be expressed through mere words, she was there, something only a poet with utmost love, something only a painter which utmost aesthetics could have created.
How befitting a name, to this person I was ready to give up all that I ever had, and all that I wanted, I would give up. Just like that. Amidst 20 or so dancers she stood amongst them but was above and beyond anything that can be communicated. It was as if the creator had created her with something not of this world. She had a golden hue to her, with long flowing locks and eyes like lotus, she had the grace of a deer and body of a celestial being, there was not a doubt in my mind, her eyes expressed it all, she was herself an embodiment of love, I knew it instinctively, I had the seen the face of compassion. So
Pristinely pure as the flowing river from the glaciers of the Himalayas, innocence, a childlike ethereal quality, full of wonder and full of life.
No, it was not an infatuation. Neither was she a seductress, there were no lovers involved and I did not for a moment fall in love, it was almost as if I was floating, I was flying intoxicated by her very presence. It was not falling, but celebrating in love, a celebration of love. A few fleeting moments must have passed, but I had lost all track of time, of all outside world. There was no question of talking, let alone a question of possessing her. Never did it occur to me. The very thought would have seemed ludicrous.
Time went by, the day turned into night, and several other days into several other nights. But I was still there, intoxicated, nothing else seemed to matter. months passed by, people passed by. But she never went away. Every girl I met, I would lose myself totally, head first, it was free falling, with nothing to lose and nothing to hold back, but in every girl
I met I saw nothing but her. Padma. Relationships after relationships, talking, hugging, in silence, while making love, I would get feverish, and shiver and my whole body would shake with fervor of love, intoxicated I would scream her name out, sometimes even whisper her name in my lover’s ears. Needless to say my relationships didn’t last very long.
But my love for her would only grow, just all by myself I would get into such emotional frenzies that I would totally lose myself, in tears, I would dance all alone, her name had become a mantra. Her image my idol. I would shed tears of joy if by chance I ever came upon her name, padma..padma..
Every woman I’ve ever been with is but a pale shadow of her, though I saw in them her very essence, her fragrance few years later, after many a shattered dreams, but still overtly idealistic I set out one cool evening in Los Angeles to a concert I was invited to, organized by some American students of pundit ravishankar, the sitar maestro. Arriving fashionably late with A few Yankee friends, I was treated to a great concert, though I was enjoying it thoroughly I somehow felt a certain restlessness, not unknown to my temperament, so I walked out midway, only to find that existence is very kind. Extremely so, I froze with such a sudden gush of excitement, that anyone within 100 meters would know what just happened, but me myself didn’t. Padma. was standing right in front of me, it was almost like a theatrical presentation, so very well orchestrated. There was the just the two of us. No words could be expressed nor were they needed, for a lot of things was spoken by my profuse shedding of tears, though I was still, my whole being was in celebration. It was a dance, every cell in my body joined in the celebration, oh, it was a festival.
The next two weeks were spent in my empty unfurnished condo, oh I learnt abstinence, oh I learnt sacrifice, when in love, there’s no sacrifice, nothing else is needed, in love, there is no need to abstain, it just happens, there is no need for understanding or trust, it just is. Her tears swept my face and mine wet hers, it was as if lifetimes were spent for this. Sometimes we barely spoke, no communication was needed, I just knew and so did she. We lay in bed and that was a dance, we walked, and that was a dance, we just sat and that was a celebration. I would shiver in her arms for hours together, unable to bear the happiness, yet I showered in that bliss.
Her words were like unsung songs, a melody not of this world, her voice, free of all vanity, was not a voice of dry intellect but an expression of her very being, she never spoke of love, but everything she uttered was love and I listened, I listened not only to her words, but also to the silence between her words, how inadequately equipped we are with these forms of language, how dry, how in adept I feel, what she expressed with a single glance, I can never hope to in a 1000 words, if anything I would express my own inability, my own insignificance.
Not even a sheet of cloth between us; we lived free from all divisions, nothing between us, her very being was like a fragrance of a flower, can only be experienced but never captured, days together we went without food, without outside contact. I bathed her, I washed her, I dressed her and I prayed to her. I worshipped her with garlands and incense, I offered flowers at her feet, when I had nothing, I offered myself and like a child so full of wonder, so full of life, so full of laughter she would accept. She was my mother, my sister, my lover, my friend, she was me, none else. She danced in my arms and we made love for days together, never was there an ounce of lust, her very body was divine, in her arms I was a child, in mine she was one. I was lost, I was weak, I was hopeless and directionless and all else was lost to me, and in this state I was free, totally free. I was swept away and completely dissolved.
And then, she was gone. Now as a man hardened by the fixtures of time. I take refuge in the strength with which I’ve face my tribulations. I think about how a strange little recluse has come of his own, become a successful film maker, fiercely Independent respected and reputed to be a thinking man’s director. An artist applauded by many critics & audiences alike in film festivals worldwide, but deep down, locked in the depths of my heart, far from the eyes of this seemingly dry intellectual, lies a secret so precious that it would be a shame to not share it. I still walk and my walk is a benediction, I still sing and dance and oh it’s a great joy, a celebration, it is a great benediction and I still shed tears and shiver in a frenzy and above all still call out her name in my lover’s ears, everything I do is a benediction and all else is a benediction &
there’s one thing I’ve learnt to do. As I loved her in her presence, so I love her in her absence.