Proclaimed as a child prodigy at the age of ten, Kumudini stood at the podium after having received the highest national award for the unusual ballet, a dance drama, she had produced and choreographed single-handedly. After years of sheer hard work, she stood now at the acme of success with camera bulbs flashing away continuously in her eyes.
Ministers, top government officials, businessmen, journalists from leading national newspapers - all her loyal patrons and faithful fans were present.
Brought up in an orphanage and now look where she was. Pride filled her heart.
It happened while she was coming down with the award in her hand. She stumbled, and would have fallen if a hand had not reached out and steadied her. Kumuduni detested the idea of someone helping her. She considered herself at the peak of good health maintained by a daily regimen of tough yoga postures and a proper diet managed by world-renowned dieticians.
“I am a retired doctor. If I were you, I would go see a doctor, dear daughter,” she heard a weak and feeble voice say. Kumudini felt submerged by humiliation when she saw it was an old bent woman with kind concern on her face.
The other woman said gushingly, “I have been a great fan of yours … have seen all your performances. My granddaughter, Alka learns from you and praises you a lot.”
Kumudini felt like screaming, “Stop talking!” snatching her hand away and rushing out to the cool confines of her luxurious Mercedes waiting outside in the porch. But she knew there were a hundred eyes watching her. She felt faint once again. Maybe she should go see her doctor, as suggested by the old lady, she thought reluctantly.
Next evening, she reached the doctor’s clinic. Cheerfully, she greeted, “Good evening.” She was confident he would give her a clean bill of health.
She was shocked when the doctor insisted she undergo a battery of tests. Reluctantly, she went through it all.
The very next day, she was back in his clinic. “I have made an appointment with a specialist,” announced the doctor on seeing her. “You must go right away.” She felt her heart flutter with an unknown fear for his face looked rather grim.
Minutes later, she heard her death sentence. “Kumudini, you have a rare form of brain tumour. It’s incurable. You have to stop dancing.”
Speechless, she sat listening to the salt-and-pepper haired sadist’s words hitting her like blows to her solar plexus. She visualized the world, she had built with such effort, crumbling around her like a pack of cards. Not to be able to dance? She’d rather die. She put her head down on the table and started weeping like a child. She had thought she was invincible.
Pushing her chair back she rushed out as a ball of tears choked her throat. Numb, she drove around aimlessly till she felt another of ‘those’ dizzy spells return. She headed back home and went straight to her dance studio. Absentmindedly, her hand reached out for her favourite, Pandit Jasraj’s chant Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaya. The divine words never failed to provide her solace. Today there was no comfort in those strains. An impending doom pervaded her being.
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