“It’s the hope I can’t stand”

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I’ve had so many hopes in life. Some have come true – managing to make a living for myself in London after deciding to come here on a whim, having a place of my own, getting a new role at my last job, etc. Some still haven’t (and it’s been a long wait) and in the meantime, new ones have popped by (want to write, want to start my own business, want to perform my dance on stage one day, etc).

Sometimes the new hopes seem completely overwhelming. The dance for example. I took up bharathanatyam (a South Indian classical dance) in my early 30s. This is a dance when most people start learning when they are five. On most days I feel like an elephant stomping about, trying really hard to make my brain remember the complex choreographies and willing my body to jump and move. My teacher corrects me all the time – back straight, tummy in, your lines are not exact, control your movements, don’t throw, your eyes are everywhere, etc. Some days though, it feels right and I live for those days. But amidst all this, I have a stupid hope that one day, I will perform on stage.

Right before my class, there’s a group class of girls in their 20s. I watch them dance, I look at how skinny and nimble they are and it’s really hard to pretend I’m not 100% jealous. These girls started learning when they were young, they’ve already performed on stage. On these days, hope doesn’t just seem stupid, it feels unbearable. Melanie Reed, a Times columnist who’s trying to walk again after being injured perhaps put it best when she mentioned in her article this week, “It’s the hope I can’t stand.”

When I went with my mum to Chennai to get my costumes sewn, she asked me, “Why? Why are you doing this now? What’s the point? Are you going to become a dancer?”

I didn’t know the answer to that. I still don’t. It doesn’t make sense. But still I go to class every week. I still get corrected by teacher all the time. I blame on hope.


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