A dead afternoon in the Mylapore house. Sitting by a little window at the bottom of the steps, watching ‘the disco’ lights playing on the black and white chess-board floor, watching Neerja hammering away at her laptop keys, occasionally interrupting her to share my fanciful thoughts of what the rooms looked like during the dance-school days. Somewhere, I can already hear the talam, the dance masha using gestures, clicks and claps, while a dozen little eager eyes look on. Six and eight…the long rooms for the beginners making their way into this enthralling realm. Seven, the storage and make up area for the performances. Somewhere on the ground floor are the older girls and companionships that have sprung up over efforts of moving arms and hips gracefully. A warm oil lamp stands in one corner of the other room, the muslin covered veena occupies another corner, a mridangam close by, the recorder with classical rhythms stopped halfway. The next room is the shrine to the rules of dance, the haven of the sacred classical texts. And then there is the voice..in a language that I cannot feign to recognize…Tamil probably. And then the owner of the voice…the white hair framing the face, the soft wrinkles developing around the corner of the eyes, the fair pallor displaying a heritage different from the language she uses…she steps in from the patio where she has just dried her silvery hair through the glass door of room 1. The voice sounds again..she emerges enquiring about the missing pair who are expected to perform that evening. Silent whispers exchange between these two truants who are hidden away in the little room accessible only from the outside, the hidden entrance only a few have discovered. The contents of their conversation remain a secret muffled by the sounds of the veena.
The scene shifts, the voice is heard again....only this time in a house by the sea. You can hear the pride in her voice as she takes you into the in-house theatre created according to the principles of the Indian classical texts. A pride equally evident when she comments on the 75 neem trees in the garden she created from nothing .
Creator of beauty
May beauty follow thou, wither thou goest.
I’ve never met her but somewhere it is the image of Chandralekha that i associate with that of the danseuse who ran the dancing school.