Wendell Rodricks: A hard act to follow
- Madhu Nataraj
February 14, 2020
I vividly recall how at our dear friends, the Puris' birthdays, anniversaries, even a prayer meeting, Wendell and I would be asked to speak. He would always go first and my opening line would be: "Now that's a hard act to follow!" Couldn't have meant it more now, than ever before...
Shree, Wendell, Madhu
It was the summer of 1996 when his soul sibling Shree, introduced us. Wendell and dear Jerome played the most wonderful hosts to us young women, then and for the decades to follow. I still remember the first time we met. "Jendall" came in their old jeep to pick me up from the bus station. We recognised each other instantly... never having met before! He always checked in on my artistic and personal journey, never hesitating to say what he felt was in my best interest.
He very graciously designed costumes for me and the STEM Dance Kampni and was always up for a collaboration. Always inspiring me, sometimes overwhelmingly so with his ingenuity and resourcefulness. The last time we met at Shree and Shamsher's home, a couple of weeks ago, he watched as Shree gifted me a beautiful red Chanderi dupatta and added, "Shree, make Madhu a nice circle top with it. Turn it into a dance costume."
Ma and he had a mutual admiration club going. She would often say, "Such a handsome boy this Wendell is" and he would blush each time, complimenting her on her grace, beauty and kindness and quickly adding, "Had you been younger and me not gay, I would have rushed you to the altar!" He would call me up asking to be taken to authentic Kanjeevaram sari boutiques and quite often would say, "Please wear one of those beautiful sarees of yours at the event tonight." I would happily oblige!
Wendell, your brilliance, trailblazing artistry, activism, philanthropy, fearlessness, quick wit, coupled with your humility, unfettered love for life and your loved ones, generosity and concern, made you an outstanding artist and a magnificent human being. There will always be only one Wendell Rodricks to walk this Earth...and always, walk his talk.
Madhu Nataraj is the Director, STEM Dance Kampni, Natya Institute of Kathak & Choreography, Bangalore.
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