Be gentle its my first time. :)
It was a typical day in June in Delhi. At 10 am the heat was already unbearable. I was 11 years old, it was my summer vacation and the last thing I wanted to do was stand in a queue outside the Saraswati temple. We were here for my dance classes. Although I was a disappointment to my parents in almost every other way I still redeemed myself by being somewhat of a prodigy when it came to Bharatnatyam. We were here to enroll me in special dance classes offered by Dr Parthasarathy. Dr Parthasarathy was a retired DRDO scientist who had a passion for dance. After 35 years of brilliant work at the DRDO he was now a retired man who worked as the priest at the Saraswati temple.
In addition to being a brilliant scientist and a learned priest he was also a highly sought after dance teacher with many gifted disciples. And he was accepting students for this year. So my family along with dozen others were queued up outside the Saraswati temple so he could choose one or two of us and accept us as his disciples.
In a fit of rebellion I had worn my pink shorts and an Aerosmith t shirt. Although it served the purpose of infuriating my parents I felt miserable now as I watched all the pretty older girls in their salwar kameez. As much as I wanted to annoy my parents I also really enjoyed dancing. Although I had heard my parents talking about how traditional and strict Dr Parthasarathy was I had also heard about how he had made gifted children into brilliant dancers. He was known to give a special soul to dance performances that he choreographed.
So now miserable in my pink shorts I felt I had no chance against this pantheon of teenage girls all of whom seemed like a better pick than younger, smaller me in my pink shorts.
The queue wound from the rear entrance of the temple to the beginning of the parking lot. There was commotion at the parking lot that was getting louder and louder. It seemed some of the street children had captured a black cat and had tried to set the cat on fire using a magnifying glass. Although some of the parents from the queue had interfered to rescue the cat they were since then throwing things at the cat to shoo it away. A black cat was considered a bad omen and they did not want the cat anywhere near their pretty, perfect daughters. The cat stupidly was standing its ground.
My eyes filled with tears as I watched the cat shrink into a ball. And though none of the parents were hurting the cat it was clear that the cat was terrified. My parents who had been standing with their backs to me to show how mad they were now moved closer to me. One of them put their arm over my shoulder as I continued to watch the cat. It must have been the anticipation of rejection, along with a feeling of camaraderie with that cornered cat but tears started rolling down my cheeks.
After what seemed like forever my father finally sighed. "Come, lets go get the poor thing". A wave of relief swept over me as we walked past the parents who by now had begun to ignore the cat. My father picked the animal up and finding a collar around its neck said " Its a house cat. Shame on them."
The cat seemed to sense it was safe and uncurled itself and let itself be patted. My father was always good with animals. I found myself blurting. " I am sorry about the clothes, Dad. Maybe I will get in next time. Really sorry dad."
My father looked up and grinned at me. "Don't worry chotu. You are a great dancer. And I think our chances just improved." Through my tears I now saw what my father was looking at. A tiny ring attached to the collar of the cat with the inscription.
"Kalaivani - C/0 Dr Parthasarathy".