Book 1: Page 24

Kalsh: Don’t remind me of ‘The Performance’ I want to forget all of it.

On the edge of ocean
On the edge of ocean

Lady Penguin Patch-up: Forget it? You sound like a quitter. Is the captain of this school team a quitter? Every moment of your life is memorable. Every emotion is eternally engraved upon your soul. Don’t try to forget it son, embrace it. Use it to explore the music inside you. Such incidents will repeat endlessly in your life. Like a cycle of cause and effect, action-reaction. But you are one of those rare men who have the ability to break the cycle. Your classmates mock you because they have nothing better to do. But you, you have an ocean in front of you, waiting for you to set sail. This stage is your ship, you are meant to be there and not in this obnoxious sport. (She got up) there will be no play without you, Edward. (And she left). If you don’t show up tomorrow I will cancel the event.

She left me alone in the visitors lounge. My school uniform was perfectly tugged in and it did not leave any space for discomfort. But I knew that the lady who just walked out had actually walked in on me. There are holes in all of us, some big holes and some small ones. And we are miserable at finding these holes. Our ego is too bloated to let us see clearly. Therefore God makes sure that every man has a woman who takes up the responsibility of mending him. They, ‘Patch Us Up’. And that day, Lady Penguin Patch-up made an Edward out of a Kalsh and in the process she transformed a ‘Player’ into a ‘Performer’. She made me fall in love with myself all over again. I went to practice that day and the day after that and the day…


Her touch was velvety but I felt such a profound ingress that it not only touched my neck, my lips but also a part whose utility was hitherto unheard off. There was a tumbling in my tummy. It was quiet similar to the weightlessness experienced during take-off, although it might be more appropriate to compare it with the exhilaration felt on a roller-coaster’s drop. For the first time in my life I could feel something below my belly. Even after the most vivid memories of that night have come to fade, I still recall the nose that pierced my shoulder. And I have been searching thenceforth. Most people will not tell you that a person’s prejudice towards beauty, nature or comportment has its roots firmly grounded in a surreal experience. But I will describe the seed-sowing ceremony of my fascination with noses in great detail.


Lady Penguin converted one of the empty rooms on the top floor into my green room because the official green room was an overcrowded raucous of sweet smelling girls. Moreover the colour on the walls was not “Green”. Unfortunately I had to go to the common make-up room.

I made quick work of my school uniform and took out form the bag my most prized possession- The Dress. It was pure white, the brightest shade ever. It had a matte finish, no beads no bands just plain white. The tights were quiet tight and I knew when I looked in the mirror that this suit was God sent. It was cold even inside the school but I did not cover-up. The chill of self importance accentuated my goose-pimpled body. So in a bid to be admired I marched towards the common room for make-up. My only refuge from the December chill was the school blazer which I took off with élan as I shut the door behind me.

To my surprise this common room was not exactly common. I saw twenty young girls, aged ten to seventeen in that room, in various stage of undress. Apart from the familiar faces there were sisters, mothers and cousins helping with the make-up and costumes. The uninhibited exhibition of female anatomy had a hitherto unknown affect on me. This was too much for my eyes although these girls seemed to neither notice my gaze nor my dress. It was not the right time to make a hero’s entrance so I came out. In fact I rushed to vomit what I had just seen and halted only when I reached the room next to the staircase. This was the last room leading to the stage. The only furniture was a huge mirror. And I stood there admiring my reflection.


The fateful day arrived too soon. Akanksha and I had practiced the scene where Edward tries to steal the baby and is caught. He explained to Helen the reasons for his action through my monologue. I had never seen such an attendance before. All twenty five girls who play various roles in our stage production were present. Lady Penguin took a seat in the last row, with the two senior school girls on her either side. Robot’s sister was waving from the prompt box. I listened closely to the piano waiting for it to momentarily pause so that I could begin my act.

final test

Kalsh:        I come from far far… away, where no women no angels stay,

                   We did something very very wrong, whose burden I still borne,

                   A Long time ago, a mullah said we want no femme no more,

                   A lady is weak we believed and instead brave men we seeked,

                   So we torched them alive, foeticide, sent them all out of sight,

                   Only sons did we ever ask for,

                   Now in that village where I have grown, no one cuddles at night,

                   I was sent to your village, to bring back a girl like yourself,

                   I knew it all along that I had to steal from you I swear,

                   For nine months what you had to bear, I alone are to be blamed,

                   Garrotte my senses, drown my hope, take me apart piece by piece,

                   We men don’t deserve your grace, but please

                   Let me see my Angela at least,

                   That is what my last breath would pray, You, Me and My daughter Stay

There was a silence. I couldn’t see anything. My view was hazed. I rubbed my eyes but it did not help. The stage light was blinding me. I looked around for Akanksha but she was nowhere to be seen. And then I heard a voice so soft that it pierced my ears. “BRAVO!!!”



I moved up to her with a cheerful smile.

I: Good afternoon madam. I am Kalsh Abhilash (I handed over to her the reference letter that Robot had given me).

Lady Penguin Patch-up: (she took out her reading glasses) so you’re the boy chosen by Mr. Prajapati (he was our principle)

I: Well, I got this letter yesterday and decided to show up at your service. Hope this strengthens the bond between our two schools (I still don’t understand why was I trying to impress her that day?)

Lady Penguin Patch-up: Well one thing is for sure. I am not disappointed. If my old eyes aren’t mistaken then you are the same boy who scored the winning goal the other day.

I: Yes madam. You are so very right. So what’s next?

Lady Penguin Patch-up: (After a minute’s silence) don’t be restless. This is no football. Ballet is graceful and organized. First of all you must give an audition.

I: Madam, it appears you don’t get it. I have come to participate in this annual day of yours. I am not a struggling ballet dancer. And it is my obligation to be here and not my interest. So would you kindly give me my lines and dance steps?

Lady Penguin Patch-up: Seems you are hard of hearing or (removing her spectacles delicately) plainly haughty.
(She looked at her wrist watch and then straight into my eyes) Listen up close, its lunchtime. Meet me after an hour. We will start off the post lunch session with you.

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