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Thadhiginathom: Part 6
- Zakir Hussain
English translation: Dushy Gnanapragasam

July 9, 2020

(Reproduced with permission)

Dance to your heart's content

When the human species abandoned the caves in favour of the huts, it also learned to live communally. The one among them who was perceived as capable of providing a level of security for their life and limb came to be considered their leader. The role and responsibilities of the leader and the lead evolved over time. The passage of time and external forces influenced attitudes and perceptions of the communities. We find evidence of this evolution through the architectural artifacts that are becoming available to us now.

No sooner had Chitra madam entered her assigned room, she declared, "Very good. A beautiful and compact room. We will stay here," and it felt like Deepavali had arrived early for me. It was an air-conditioned room with two large beds.

"Zakir, I will need two more pillows."
"Sure, Sir. I'll get it for you in five minutes." I got it for him even sooner.
"Thank you. Give us half an hour. We'll call you when we're ready."
"Ok, Sir. Madam, shall I take my leave?"
"Zakir, why don't you wait and join us for breakfast?" said Chitra madam.
Needless to say, I accepted the invitation.

From the noise and rollicking in the hallways it was apparent that the students and the orchestra had settled comfortably into their rooms. I waited in the reception room along with the reception committee. Visweswaran sir arrived even before the half hour had passed.

"Hey ladies, are you all ready? I am famished."
"We're almost ready, uncle!" someone yelled back from inside the room.
"Viswesh, why don't you go and eat if you're hungry? Please don't disturb them. They must be tired."
"Why would they be tired? They also came in the train with us, didn't they? It's not like they were running after the train," he turned to look at us, laughing aloud.

We joined in his laughter making sure we were not heard.
"Sir, would you like me to take you to the dining hall?"
"Alright. Chitra! I'm going to go eat. Can you come with the rest of them?"

Chitra & Visweswaran

We reached the dining hall with Visweswaran sir to find three tables with six chairs set in the large room. The eighteen chairs were too many for the fourteen guests and the two of us. Visweswaran sir inspected each of the items presented in the buffet.
"Wow! Very impressive. I'll have a masala dosa, a vada, an idly, a bit of kesari, and a thick strong coffee to wash down the meal."

The canteen server left to bring the food.
"Did you all eat yet?"
"You go ahead and eat, Sir. We won't eat right now. Our assignment is to take care of our guests."
"Is that so! I shall eat before Chitra comes. She will not allow me to eat all this."
Only when I reached Chennai and started learning under Chitra madam did I realize why she was so strict with his diet.

About then, Chitra madam entered the room surrounded by her entourage like the Goddess she is. Upon her entry, the dining hall which was in Tamil Nadu was transformed into one in London, England. The omnipresent Krishna gave way to omnipresent English. We became alienated.

For breakfast, Chitra madam had a slice of Papaya and two thin slices of bread with butter. The students too ate very little. I was surprised and wondered how they were able to dance with such little nourishment.
"I would like a cup of tea diluted with a lot of water," said Chitra madam.
The cook, who had boiled the milk for long to get it thickened, was surprised by this request.

After they left, we ate to our heart's content until we physically could not eat anymore. Just then the phone rang. The principal was on the other end. I gave him a very detailed update. Satisfied he said, "Ask Chitra madam at what time she wants to inspect the stage. I will be in the office in half an hour."
"Alright, Sir."

I went directly to the orchestra's room. "Vadivel sir, at what time do you want to see the stage and lighting? Can you ask Chitra madam?"
Vadivel went directly to Srikala.
"Srima, can you find out at what time Chitramma wants to go see the stage? These guys want to know."
Srikala disappeared into Chitra madam's room and re-emerged.
"Exactly at eleven o'clock. She is resting right now."

It was only thirty minutes after nine. I retracted to my room to waste away a bit of time and returned at forty-five minutes after ten. Chitra madam, Srikala, Rama, and Vadivel were waiting for me. Waiting for them by the stage for a long while was every head of department, including my own - with a pretentious look on his face.
(July 2, 2020)

To be continued...

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