Still I Rise
Today I had my classical dance (Bharatanatyam Salangai Pooja). It’s the first symptom of a deep seated passion.
I started learning at the age of 22. I have been ridiculed from the beginning, why do you need to strain yourself, you’re not getting it. You already have a successful career, why do you need to pursue something you are mediocre? Passion doesn’t listen to reason. And in the course of my studies, I actually did fail after three years and quite rightly so at that point in time. I picked myself up again and trained harder.
The beginning of this year has been the worst of everything. I honestly believed at one point my life was meaningless and worthless and I was simply going through the motions of plain existence. I threw myself into dance — I started going for classes 4 times a week. It was my sanctuary. In that one hour, I was free from mental trauma. It was a wonderful meditation, for body, mind and soul.
My teacher then suggested I do a salangai pooja. I was highly skeptical. I slowly agreed. I started saving up for it. I blocked everything else that made me happy because I didn’t trust my mind with what it perceived as happiness any more. And the peace that dance gave me was too sacred to ignore.
I went on stage and danced my life out. In 2013, I casually prayed to Lord Nataraja at Chidambaram that I’d love to learn Bharatanatyam. In 2018, unexpectedly, I offered this small token performance in a temple. As an agnostic, Bharatanatyam has been free enough to let me explore my faith.
I am sadly a perfectionist. And I fought my stage fear when I know I’m far from perfect. I know my Natyarambha became lopsided after half hour. I knew my adavus became heavier and heavier. But my one constant was my smile. Because the one fundamental thing that dance taught me is that I am enough. When my body couldn’t digest food in depression, my mind couldn’t hold onto hope, dance gave me a purpose to cling on to that permanent undamageable soul.
(I am God)
I rose like a phoenix,
From the ashes of doom,
In fiery tones of orange and red.