Bharatanatyam

Fiction By Christa // 7/28/2007

Her brown hair, normally rather mousy, reflected a rainbow of colors in the sunlight as she entered the holy place. She was not of the faith, but respected the idea. Her clothes were riotously vivid colors of orange and yellow and red, gold trim and sweeping folds, her jewelry fake gold, heavy and ornate. Only her bindi truly reflected her personality: small, sophisticated, delicate. Her feet were bare and she felt she looked out of place, pale. She nodded to families as she shyly dipped away to a quiet corner of the temple to stretch and wait. Her stomach rolled and but her mind bent away from the present.
She hopped and bent with a look of concentration, in small but sharp movements. Stamp – stampstamp – bend, lotus flower hand – arm all the way up, over and down like a waterfall. Flat foot, flat foot, toe. A voice startled her out of her concentration, “are you ready?” asked Padma with an excited grin. Padma was identically dressed, but had already put on bells around her ankles. Miriam wondered how she had missed Padma’s approach; the bells were loud enough to be heard a mile away. Miriam nodded in reply, and took a deep breath to calm her stomach. The spices in the air were not comforting for her the way they were comforting for Padma, who had been coming to the temple for years. While Miriam bent to tie her bells, her stomach sought to convince her that the ol’ “flight or fight” reflex was in full swing, and she should run before she was forced to dance in front of all these people. The bells around her ankles clashed with the loud noises that were coming from the main room. The idea of the Hindu temple was so foreign to Miriam – the sacred part of the temple was actually upstairs, the downstairs where fellowship took place was more of a community center than the quiet church services she was used to. Small children screamed and ran around, teenage boys grouped in corners as far from parents as possible, middle aged adults chatted in a foreign language with babies held in laps, while older folks quietly sat nearby, giving their blessings to the younger folks. In some ways so different from what she was used to, in other ways the same.
Miriam ducked around the groups, following Padma through the throng to the stage entrance. Despite the loud, ringing bells, no one looked overly much in their direction. For the folks here, it appeared that the occurrence was a regular one. They met with two other similarly dressed girls, and were introduced on the stage. The din on the other side of the curtain quieted to a dull roar of children crying and talking, and the twang of the music started, a thumping sliding drum and a wailing wavering voice. Miriam was in the music and remembering what foot went where and when.
They ended the dance, a celebration of rebirth and new light, a celebration of Diwali. Miriam slipped outside when their dance was over, although the celebration continued with other skits, poetry readings, and dancing. She loved the dances but today she felt out of sorts so she went out on the temple balcony to watch the sunset. The sun caught at the gold and red beads in her hair as she slumped over the railing, wrinkling the elaborate sari. She was coming off the rush of adrenaline from dancing, which usually left her happy and tired, but today left her edgy.
An arm slipped through hers, “Happy Diwali!” Padma sang out. Miriam smiled in reply and gave the offered arm a squeeze. Her heart filled with love and companionship for her friend. She was reminded of the Christmas gift she had received from her, with a similar exchange of greetings. And suddenly, everything felt ok. “Happy Diwali, my dear.”

Comments

hi

Hi sorry I didnt read the actual story but what does the name mean?

Anonymous | Thu, 08/16/2007

hi! the name means...

Hi! The name is actually the type of dance the girl in the story is performing. It's a type of classical dance from Southern India. I'm sure if you google it you can watch some of the dances on youtube.

Anonymous | Mon, 08/20/2007