The Last Dandiya
"WOW mumma, this Lehenga is soooo pretty!!!! Can I take this one too"? Asked the little girl looking hopefully in her mother's eyes.
"Beta, you just have already taken two of them from Udaipur yesterday. What will you do with so many ghaghras? wear those two and we can buy more later".
"Mumm I will wear them for the dandiya. All the girls wore such a nice stuff on the Dandiya that day. Besides, you know na how difficult is it to find good ghaghras at our place. And how often do we get to come to this beautiful Nathdwara city and get such stuff. Please mumma. You know how much I love dressing up and dancing. When will I get this opportunity again?
"Beta we are going to Jaipur in 2 days. Thte city has lovely markets and have even more collections. we will buy one from there. Right now, you wear whatever you have today".
"Mumma but I really liked this one. Please mumma". Insisted the little girl who was yet to step in her teens and was fascinated by dancing and dressing up.
Her mamma relented and given to her only girl child's desire. She knew how much her daughter loves dancing and how they have to struggle to find a good lehenga for her.
That night, that whole night the girl stayed awake dreaming wearing those lovely lehengas and dancing in them. Next day in Ahemdabad, her mother bought her some choicest mojris and traditional jootis that her daughter can wear for the dandiya that year.
In the hustle and bustle of shopping, they forgot they had train that noon to Jaipur which they missed. The angry yet doting father managed to booked tickets in a luxury bus coach that will depart that night.
"Wow! We are going in the night. That means I got another evening in this city to do Dandiya" said the over excited daughter who was loving all the hullabaloo surrounding the Dandiya and "raas garba" in the navratri.
She was quintessentially a lass from small town who was touring the beautiful scapes of Gujarat and Rajasthan with her parents on LTA. Initially she was not happy coming on this tour as she was selected for "State level Table Tennis Tournament" in her school. Being a beginner, it was a great achievement for her. For she not just had beaten some of the strongest player in qualifying tournament to earn that position, her bat strokes and down to earth attitude had win her an opportunity to make direct entry in mixed doubles partnering with none other the sports teacher. She had been playing tennis for a year and things have stated looking bright for her. Damn! The tour has come that time. They have to leave next morning. She cannot stay back at home for the tournament. Like she could not stay back at her grand ma's place and study there. Her father forced bring her from her paternal grandparent's family to stay with them.
After the initial sadness, she has forgotten her missed opportunity behind and began to enjoy the trip. She always believed in living the moment and leaving the past behind. And she was enjoying every bit of it. She attended a dandiya an evening before and post initial awkwardness and feeling of xenophobia, she started getting into groove. She started picking the dance steps and in fact made some silent friends there. Tonite, she wanted to dance her heart out. One more evening before she leaves Udaipur for the next city of her trip- Jaipur.
Her father promised her that he would take her out to all other places in Rajasthan during Navrati for Dandiya.
"Beta, beta lets go, it's time. We need to get on the bus". reprimanded the mother, in a bid to pull her "too absorbed in dancing" daughter out from the dandiya program towards the car that as waiting for them to drop at the bus station. It was an unknown city for them and after already missing their train in the afternoon, she did not wanted to miss the bus. They have checked out from the hotel too. Their lovely Lakshmi Vilas Palace hotel that looked over the beautiful Chilka lake.
"Oh mamma. There is ample time for bus. I wanted to dance some more time. It was so much fun. Dunno when would I get this chance to be here in this city in Navratri and do the Dandiya". quipped the little girl.
"Navratri has just begun. There are 6 more days to it. And celebration at Jaipur would be even bigger and grand. Don't worry. Udaipur is not end of it". consoled the ever wise mother to her daughter while they boarded the luxury coach bus and settled in their seats.
"Yes Udaipur is not end of it, Jaipur would be even more fun. Gosh, I get to meet so many cousins and relatives there. I am excited" said the girl.
That night she slept thinking the various dandiya moves that she learnt that day and going to perform at Jaipur Navratri functions. She was very excited to be there. She wanted to open her eyes but he mother told her to sleep so that she don't feel lazy next day.
She opened her eyes again to see her younger brother sobbing by her mother's side. She wanted to ask what happened. But her mother asked her to sleep again. She felt something unusual. She went back to sleep. She tried to open her eyes 2-3 more time successively that night but every time she found somebody else sitting by her side, asking her to close back her eyes. She could not fathom why. She wasn't feeling good about it. Somehow her mind was too drowsy to grasp the situation. All she could realize that something terribly unusual happened and she was not feeling good about it.
She tried to move her hands, her legs but she cannot inch them a further, She found some sort of strips tied on her legs and hands. She felt stings of needles pressed against her arm. She cannot even move her head or he mouth.
What was going on? She wondered. Her whole body was burning with pain and numbness, both together.
When she finally came into conscious, 2 days past beyond her notice. She found herself in a strange place, almost tied to an iron bed. She learnt that it is a hospital Trauma ward, where people with extreme conditions are tended. She learnt that the bus she was travelling in, met with an accident. She learnt that bus driver drank too much of alcohol and that led to accident. She learnt that she was the biggest victim of the accident. She learnt that she was badly injured in that accident. She learnt that she lost her leg too in that accident. She learnt that she may not be able to walk or stand ever again. Suddenly the acute pain in her body turned numb and she went back to unconsciousness again.
Her sports and dance career was over for ever. Udaipur was end of it for her. When she got up back again, she asked the doctor- Doctor would I be able to walk again?
The doctor hold her hand, smiled, in a way to assure and said yes. She looked at her mother to get her nod too. She found her mother crying, with her bandaged hand, trying to mute her own sighs in her mouth.
That whole Navratri, Dussehra, Diwali and even New year and Holi, that girl spent lying on the hospital bed feeling proud of being able to move her hands finally, while aching to stand back and walk on her feet.
That was indeed her last Dandiya, dancing and being/doing what she loved most.
She gave her unworn ghaghras and all those dresses to girls who can wear them. She could no longer wear them as much as she cannot do the things that she wanted to do.
She was told that it was a miracle that she braved that accident and came live out of it. She wondered what the miracle was. And why?