Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sarita's Dance

from Wendy
Peceli is too busy with people to even look at the site today So here's an offering from something I wrote - a story set in Suva about neighbours. The idea came, though, from a concert by students of Grammar school several years ago when a friend Nina was the drama teacher.

The story of Sarita's syncopated dance four years earlier was a local legend. As she needed to rehearse for cultural events, she had practised on the back balcony with Krishna's friend Datta playing the tabla. One evening Sarita was into a full dress rehearsal, her gentle hands trembling, her head and torso twisting, the satin and sequins of her costume shimmering. Across the gully, one of the Fijian lads had a medium sized wooden lali on his back verandah. He started beating in time to Sarita's steps and the tabla. When Datta's fingers paused, Sarita continued swaying to the youth's drumbeat, now with a syncopated rhythm. The lad paused, Sarita performed a few steps, then both drummers alternated, resulting in an ebb and flow of rhythms across the gully.

Jyoti, fifteen then, had been entranced by the gift of music and dance, by her mother's grace and by the youth's energetic beating. When the dance ended and the ringing sound of the drums faded, Krishna, Datta, Sarita, Janki and Jyoti had collapsed in a heap of laughter. The Fijian lad waved and beamed with pleasure. Way the world ought to be, hey? Jyoti knew that contact between people of different cultures was often a brief hullo then go on your way. Occasionally there was kindness and respect. Sometimes though, there was hostility and fear.

The story had been used in the eulogy at Sarita's funeral a few months later, a symbol of the possibilities of art to transform, to make a difference.

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