I come from a simple middle class family in Kanpur. My father worked as a junior manager in textile mill there and my other was busy bringing up the many children she had. Among that big gang, I was lost and confused. I did not what I wanted or if I was even allowed to want something.
Eventually I started getting a feeling that my role was carved out being a woman in a certain society. People around me never gave me much choice. Most decisions were taken for me by my parents, elders, brothers and some nameless other people. Even if I did get a choice at times in life, it was more a case of:
“Do you want rice or roti?
“Do you want a ponytail or a braid?
“Do you …” (Actually I can’t really think of any other questions asked or options / choices given to me)
But even if a few choices were given to me, one word that stood out for me as question mark was: “OR”. I kept wondering why do I have to only take one thing, why am I so restricted. Why is my life so limited. Why can’t it be rice and roti, ponytail and braid?
And this is what I decided to do.
When I went to college, I started participating in theater. Starting with small side roles, I slowly started getting recognized for my acting skills. As the days went by, I started getting selected for most of the plays and roles started increasing to a point when I would only do the lead roles. Being a girls’ college, it also meant that I would end up playing a lot of male characters, but I was not complaining. It was a challenge that never ceased to excite me.
Other girls were busy studying while I was out rehearsing till late. Other girls were getting good marks, while was just about making the cut. Other girls’ families were happy they were conventional and living normal lives, while my parents thought there was something wrong with me.
But no matter what, those were the best days of my life.
Standing there in front of an audience and saying lines that can move all of them to the edge of their chairs was a feeling that is indescribable. I felt so empowered being up there, I drew so much positive energy from the loving eyes of the viewers and I felt so whole and complete; that I knew my rest of the life would be full of ‘ANDs’. Just how I was a student AND an actor, I would be a woman AND everything-else-would-ever-want to be.
Image courtesy: Pixabay