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Thread: Hanuman And I

          
   
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    Hanuman And I

    Preparations had begun for our school annual
    day. Two plays were to be staged. The senior
    section was to enact 'Merchant of Venice' and
    the junior section, 'The Story of Rama'. I was
    hoping with all my heart that the drama teacher
    would include me in die cast. I had never acted
    in a play but was sure that once on stage I would
    give a brilliant performance.
    Radhika, the prettiest girl in our class, would
    certainly get Sita's role. Since I was shorter than
    Radhika and had a shrill voice I could not hope to
    be Rama. But I wouldn't mind being Rama's
    brother Laxmana, I decided. I went around for
    a few days, imagining myself on stage with a bow
    and arrow slung on my shoulders, giving a brilliant performance as Laxmana. How surprised
    my parents would be! I could almost hear my
    father saying, "Imagine we had such a talented
    daughter and we didn't even realise it."
    I was terribly disappointed when the drama
    teacher smiled and said, "I have a role for you.
    You'll be one of the monkeys in the Vanar Sena.""
    "Monkey brigade that helped Lord Rama.

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    "Can't I at least get the role of Hanuman," 1
    asked timidly.
    "No, your voice is too squeaky," was the teacher's reply.
    Our rehearsals began the next day. All I had
    to do along with seven other girls was to jump up
    and down and shout, "Jai Rama', "Jai Hanuman'
    in a chorus.
    Finally the great day arrived. We were all very
    excited. I had to wear a red shirt, red pants, red
    vest and a monkey mask.
    We were dressing up when the chaukidar* *
    handed a note to the teacher. She read it aloud.
    "Dear Madam, I am very sorry to inform you that
    Alka has contracted measles and has been running a high temperature since morning. Sorry, she
    will not be able to act in the play."
    Alka was to play Hanuman. The teacher looked round in dismay and her eyes fell on me. "Look
    here," she said doubtfully, "You wanted to be
    Hanuman? You think you can manage?" My dream
    was suddenly coming true! I was quite overwhelmed. "Of course 1 can," I said confidently.
    "Even if I forget, I can always think up something else."
    "Oh no," she said, "You shall certainly not do
    any such thing. I shall be prompting from the
    "Victory to Lord R

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    wings. All you have to do is repeat what I say and,
    for god's sake, don't mumble. Speak as loudly as
    you can."
    As the curtains went up for the third scene I
    was pushed on stage to the accompaniment of
    drums. I almost fell on my face. For sometime I
    could not see a thing. The drums were echoing in
    my ears and my hands and feet were cold and
    numb. I opened my mouth to say my lines but
    my throat was dry and I couldn't remember them.
    Thankfully I heard my teacher reading out my
    lines again and again. I began repeating whatever she said without realising what I was saying.
    I kneeled in front of Rama telling him with folded hands that I was his faithful servant. I would
    gladly die for him. "Oh, my Lord", I repeated
    loudly what my teacher was saying, "you have
    forgotten to pin your tail." "Don't be silly," hissed Rama, "I am not supposed to have a tail. You've
    forgotten yours."' I touched the spot where the
    tail should have been. "I am sorry, my Lord," I
    said trying to make up for my mistake. "I meant
    my tail, I have forgotten to pin on my tail."
    The teacher now whispered, "Jump, jump," I
    shouted, "Jump."
    "You jump," Rama shouted at me. Then realising my second mistake I began to jump like mad
    and the curtains came down to the sound of
    laughter.
    There and then the teacher cut short my role as
    much as possible, but I had to be on stage in the
    last act.
    I was feeling less nervous now and said my
    lines well. I showed Rama's ring to Sita to convince her that 1 was Rama's messenger. Sita said
    some beautiful lines about Rama's greatness and
    how much she missed him. She hid her face in her
    hands and began to weep. Suddenly I realised
    that the teacher was prompting while Sita kept
    sobbing. Since Sita was not saying anything I decided that it was my turn to speak.
    "My beauty is my bane," I said grandly. "It is
    because of my beauty that the wicked Ravana
    wants to marry me."

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    "What?" said Sita looking startled.
    "Not you, you idiot," I repeated what the tea-
    92 cher said. Seeing the startled expression of the
    whole cast I bit my tongue, realising my mistake
    too late.
    Just then everyone on stage began shouting,
    "Maharaja* is coming, Ravana the Great is here!"
    I was struck dumb by the huge figure in six-inch
    heels, which 1 didn't know about until that time,
    bearing down on me with a shining sword in hand.
    He said in a thunderous voice that made me tremble. "Who is this puny creature who dares to
    intrude into my kingdom?" I was supposed to answer in a proud voice that I was the son of Pawandev, the wind God, the worshipper of Rama, the
    immortal Hanuman. But Ravana was towering
    over me. He raised his sword and I screamed in
    terror, "Don't kill me, I am not Hanuman." I pulled off my mask as I spoke. By now the audience
    was rolling with laughter. The sound of laughter
    became louder when an infuriated teacher came
    on stage and unceremoniously dragged me away.

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