Today's Theme: Dreams
“1, 2, 3 now let’s get moving again”, shouted the choreographer, with her bulky body jiggling as she huffed and puffed to show the dance steps.
“Love is in the air, Love is everywhere,
Oh, love is within you and me,
I’ll always love you, I swear”
The music blared with some ridiculous lyrics but I was concentrating only on the dance steps. I moved my hips, mirroring the pelvic thrust movements shown by the choreographer’s assistants.
“Meena”, the choreographer shouted in a shrill voice.
“Yes”, I replied.
“Yes Master-ji”, a voice echoed my own.
I looked back to see a young girl, not more than 17, shivering and looking from me to the choreographer.
“Her name is also Meena”, a girl dancing beside me, informed me in a whisper.
“No Meena-ji, I was talking to my girl back there”, the choreographer replied to me gently. But her voice turned harsh as she reproached the other Meena because she had missed a step. Of course she wouldn’t dare to use that tone with me. I was a very successful and influential actress with three back-to-back hits in the past 8 months. But right now, my feet ached as I tried to ignore my severely rumbling stomach. I had nothing since morning, except for a tall glass of orange juice. And that was followed by a rigorous session of Yoga and Aerobics.
The choreographer finally called for a 15 minutes break and the makeup man rushed towards me to retouch my makeup. As I sat on the chair, I saw the other Meena along with her troupe of dancers. They were laughing merrily and teasing each other. She looked so happy, like without a worry in her world. She is lucky, I decided.
I caught her looking at me but she averted her gaze hastily
My mother sat beside me, fanning her face with a newspaper.
“Mom, I’m feeling hungry. I can’t go without food like this”, I implored.
“Nonsense, remember for the next outdoor shoot there is a scene where you have to wear a bikini and the producers have demanded that you need to have a size zero figure. I’ll get you some lime juice without sugar”. My mother then proceeded to call a spot boy and asked him to get lime juice with just salt and no sugar. How I wished my mother was like others moms, forcing their children to eat. But my mother controlled every morsel of food that went inside my mouth.
Sometimes I felt that my mother, through me, was avenging her own failure in her short Bollywood career. Although she had worked in the film industry as a junior artiste for a decade, she was never considered to be pretty enough to make it as a heroine. But she made sure that my career soared each day by micro-managing my dates, my finance, my love-life and my interviews for the media.
I didn’t have the heart to rebel against her; after all she was the only family that I had. My father had left us when I was just 4 years old and he had never returned nor did I ever hear my mother mentioning about him.
As I sipped my horrible lime juice, which my mother placed in my hands lovingly, I saw Meena and her friends sitting in a corner and munching on samosas and jalebis. Right now, I would have given an arm to be able to switch places with her. I dreamt that I was just a normal girl who could do what she wanted in life, who could eat what she wanted without worrying about her weight, who could go out and enjoy without having to wear a disguise every time and be with the person she loves without worrying about the paparazzi invading her private moments.
I was scared that Master-ji would remove me from this dance number. I couldn’t allow that to happen because I needed the money. I hadn’t paid the rent for my small one room shack for several months and if I didn’t cough up the money soon my landlord would kick me out.
But fortunately Master-ji just rebuked me and let me go after some threats to remove me from the troupe if I didn’t pull my act together.
My eyes fell on Meena, the superstar and I wondered how, even though our names were same our fates were as different as day and night. The other Meena lived in a luxurious world, where her every whim was fulfilled, where she didn’t have to worry about her next meal, where she didn’t have to worry about some drunk guy crashing into her home and violating her.
One of the girls had brought some snacks and everyone fell on them excitedly. I had cut down to one meal a day as I didn’t have enough money to buy myself more food. My eyes fell on the actress again and I saw that Meena’s mother had placed a glass of juice lovingly in her daughter’s hands and stroked her hair gently.
I remembered my own mother. I used to live with her in a village in Bihar. When I was small, my mother used to lock me in the small kitchen of our house every night. Lying in a fetal position with rats scurrying past my legs, I would listen to strange noises coming from the other side of the kitchen, like my mom was in pain, like she was moaning in torment. But in the morning I was surprised to see her absolutely fine.
My confusion cleared when I was 8. I realized that my mother’s moans were not because she was in pain but it was grunts meant to arouse her customers, to make them come back next day seeking more pleasure. And I was horrified to learn that my mother had plans to put me in the same profession, once I reached puberty.
My life shattered. I couldn’t understand how a mother could willingly put her own daughter into such a life. I decided that I would escape. A plan formed in my mind over the years. I heard that Mumbai was the city of dreams, where people made impossible dreams come true. And I had a dream -a dream of donning the greasepaint, a dream of becoming the most successful and rich actress, a dream of making more money than I could count.
When I was 12, with the help of a friend I escaped from my village and reached Mumbai. I used to do odd jobs, for some time I even danced in a dance bar. And then one day, Master-ji saw me dancing in a small function where I, along with a few girls, was paid for entertaining the guests with their moves. And Master-ji, adopted me into her troupe.
I looked at the extremely beautiful and successful actress Meena, and dreamt that I was in her place. I was in demand, people requested me to pose with them for photo, the media went into a frenzy just wanting to know who I was seeing, producers lined up before my house to request for dates, young, handsome and rich men sent me flowers and other expensive gifts, I would get to visit exotic places and eat all the good food. Ah, what a life it would be!
So, there they were, the two girls with the same name, each dreaming that they had a life like the other, but at the same time praying that no one should be cursed with a life like their own.
Linking this post to Blogadda's WOW- This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.