Dolly!, her name sounded very familiar. Having got a facebook friend request I tried to recollect…….. it was not very difficult. In some way in the deepest crevices of my heart she did play a part. More than what I thought about Dolly, my mind, started to replay the time I spent thinking of HER. There was a smile on my lips and could not hold the tear in my eyes… SHE was beautiful, SHE had something for me….. IT was divine…
“Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the mind boggling show of tonight. Presenting the final show of the evening, the act which all of you wait for…. The trapeze of THE GREAT GOLDEN CIRCUS”. I would love to hear this. It was amazing how the announcer maintained the same decibel, same vigour show after show, day after day. I used to love watching the circus even as an adult. Invariably during summer time the circus would arrive and camp on the dry Sabarmati river bed in Ahmedabad. The glittering lights at night nothing less than the neons of Las Vegas would bring cheer to the city. The fantastic movie made by the show man of the century, Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker, kindled a great interest in me for the circus right from childhood, also furthered by current day Shahrukh khan’s highly successful teleserial “Circus”. Student discount coupons used to be liberally given away in our school and I would invariably watch it atleast a couple of times before they used to pack up and leave the city.
It was the summer of early 80s when I went to watch this circus (The Golden Circus), as an adult. By that time, most of my friends had moved on to other interests but the interest in circus did not leave me. I went for the show booked a Dress Circle box seat right in the front and got ready for the show. The mandatory popcorn, chaiwallas shouting out inside the tent was nostalgic. I turned around and my heart sank at the sparse attendance. The tent would have been bursting at its seams during my school days. The customary lights off and the show was on… the animals , the jokers, bicycle stunts, the well of death motorbike act all of them brought a lost joy in me. The final act of the evening was announced by a similar voice, similar vigor and I got ready for the last act. The act where many girls performed rope tricks culminating in the trapeze which was my favorite. Then, SHE made her entry
A group of smartly dressed happy looking girls took the stage and started performing. SHE took the stage and one of the acts made her to swing and SHE looking at the audience. When SHE came on my side of the stage I looked at HER and flipped. SHE was so pretty. SHE had beautiful eyes, sharp features. The outfit suited HER so well and then suddenly as if recognizing my presence when the swing paused on our side of the stage SHE looked at me and smiled. My heart melted….The show over and HER smile kept playing before my eyes. I do not have a record about the number of times I visited the circus that year. Every time I would take the same seat and every time would wait for HER act to begin and SHE used to flash that smile and I would smile back…. There was no way I could have met her but in my heart I knew she would also be longing to meet up with me…..
A few years passed, but that summer could not be forgotten and then I met Dolly my class mate in school. I then remembered that her father used to own a circus and my joy knew no bounds when she declared that her father was the owner of The Great Golden circus. I told her my story and she was full of empathy. Obviously she did not know the people working but she promised to help and put me on to the manager of the show of the time. The manager heard my story and promised to help me if I was so desperate.
Armed with the address I headed to HER village in Thalassery a small district in Kerala known for churning out generations and generations and families after families working for circuses. As I was reaching the village my heart started beating faster. Questions were rising like a tsunami in my mind. Will SHE remember me? SHE would have been performing in so many towns, cities and villages. But I was sure that the smile was not ordinary it was from the heart, and directed at me. What if SHE was already married? Given that smile, I was sure she should have known I would come one day. After all, who on earth would visit the circus every other day in the same season, sit at the same place and smile back every time
I reached a very small nondescript lane and as dark clouds gathered in the sky (quite normal in Kerala at that time of the year), I passed by an old man’s tea stall and made way to the door number that I had with me. As I reached, my heart was racing like a Ferrari, my palms sweating like never before but I was full of hope and joy. Finally I would meet my loved one, one whom I never met, but I knew was for me.
From a distance I could make out the thatched hut reflecting the poor background of the family, due to which she took up the job. My heart sank when I reached there only to find it bolted. One look and one could make out that it was not habited for a long time. My throat went dry, could not see a soul around and as I made my way back, it started pouring… it did not matter anymore to me. As I waited for the next bus to the nearest city I asked the old tea shop man regarding the door and described her. He could read my heart… he had a very fatherly look on his face and said
“Son I cant make out who is unlucky, you or HER… SHE must be lucky to have someone like you who has coming looking for HER, SHE and HER family struggled so much…as if that was not enough God snatched HER away too soon”…. I choked… I could not believe what I was hearing as he went on with their story. But the sign off from the old man left me gasping… “Good for her SHE left so soon, how could such a cute kid live a full life without eyesight……” I could not help remembering Raj Kapoor famous monologue………………..”Have you seen my heart”?