I’m 25 years and a few odd days old today and people around me know how enthused I get taking up a new challenge. A few of my friends go on to create a new terminology called “Selvatism”, which they define as confident above confident or something…
to sum it up as squaring self confidence. The reason behind that is, I always say -
“ho jaayega” (can be done) to whatever task it is that I’m assigned. So let me brief you on where it all started.
I was not in the habit of writing a diary, so I’m not aware of the exact date and year of the scene which I’m going to narrate, but it was somewhere in class 4 so that roughly sums up to be 1992. I was not a brilliant student in school but was smart enough. I was the smallest in build and liked by every teacher for my smartness. I was blessed with some wonderful teachers and it was always fun going to school. The day in question was just another routine day at school. It was a Thursday and we were in class when Ms. Fathima, one of the teachers came in to announce something. She had a small discussion with Mr. Kasimariappan who was our Tamil teacher. My scores in Tamil had improved dramatically under his tutelage. Until then, my scores in Tamil read 45 or 50 out of hundred.
So, getting back to the incident, Ms. Fathima informed us that our school had decided to participate in the event “Kiddiwal 92” which was organized by R.M.K.V - a famous textile showroom of Tirunelveli, our district capital. A few students had already been selected to represent our school. However, there were a few more categories left out which required people. Gomathi Vasagam from our class, who was and is a wonderful artist I have ever come across, was selected for the drawing competition and Shanmugapriya Shyamala, a Srilankan Tamil from our class was selected for English poetry competition. Her mother was teaching Tamil in our school. One category left out was “Monoact” (A single person has to do different roles). When none volunteered for it, Fathima madam suddenly she looked at me and said
“Selva, I forgot about you. You can do this na?”
[For your kind information, I was one of the finest drama artists in my school and I performed two lead roles in two stage dramas in our school. The credit goes to the principal of course, for it was he who’d chosen me for the part.] The problem with me even in those days was that I couldn’t say No to anyone for anything that was in my capacity (it remains to this day!). So when Ms. Fathima, a person who I held in the highest esteem) asked me, out came the reply: “Yes”. I thought I would be quite able to perform well on stage if I put my mind to it (that I suppose was innately linked to my natural tendency to strive for perfection). The bombshell dropped when she informed me that the event was on the coming Saturday, which, in effect meant we only had two days to rehearse.
Once the class was over, my mind was solely thinking on the lines of the MonoAct and how would I do it. While I was thus deliberating, a simple thought struck me –
“Why can’t I?” Immediately, I rushed to Mr. Kasimariappan and Ms. Fathima. I asked them for details regarding my part and the dialogues.
Both of them said, “Selva, we need to work on that as we haven’t got any idea just yet. So please see us after lunch.”
Then came lunchtime and I rushed to them again. Mr. Kasimariappan was amazed to see me arrive bang on time and appreciated my eagerness, but again the dialogues weren’t prepared. Fathima madam requested me to come to her place in the evening to do the rehearsal. I went there and got two papers of dialogues which were in English. [I had butterflies in the stomach with thoughts like – “ Selva, you are out of the competition already…”] Again, I perked up thinking there was no reason I couldn’t and held my ground. I put in two hours of hard work at the rehearsal.
The premise of the act was that an old man traveling in a train loses his ticket and is caught by the TTE. A conversation ensues at the end of which, there’s a twist to the tale when the TTE realizes that the old man is none other than his teacher at school a long time ago. The protagonist’s dilemma as to whether he should turn in a ticket less passenger or shield his hapless mentor formed the climax of the drama.
It was an impressive story with a lot of scope to act and express as a young man vis-à-vis an old man. I was all geared to take it up as a challenge and give it my best shot. With this frame of mind, I started to rehearse. I got the right voice modulation to distinguish the characters clearly and toiled hard for two odd hours. Still, I was only able to completely rehearse about half the pages properly. Then it was too late and Ms. Fathima asked me to rehearse the rest by myself and be prepared on Saturday morning for the event.
That night…I must accept that I didn’t sleep as Selva, it was the TTE and the old man together rolled in the person who was going to bed. I usually murmur during my sleep and came to know from my mom the next morning that I kept on murmuring something that night…
What happened next would be followed in the next article.