Ruchika made it clear that she would learn ‘Odissi’, which is a classic dance form. It was a decision made when she was 14 years old, still a child. She participated in ‘Sambalpuri’ folk dance which is as vibrant and energetic dance, as the well known ‘Bhangra’. the stage reverberated when she made the entry, and she kept perfect team coordination though she was way better then the rest. Poised and very cute, she was the first choice for the school functions. She sang well too.
She was a great learner. But she wanted these activities to be part of her hobby. Ruchika was the youngest child of a college professor and the district administration head.
And she was not a person to dominate. She was happy for every other artist who performed well. I was one of her closest friends, but I don’t remember if she had any comparison within her head. I was envious, but she laughed aloud when she heard me saying it. She told me the secret which made me laugh and wonder at her ingenuity. She confided in me : “I am very lazy you know. I love sleeping late. The more I participate, the harder I have to toil. That will reduce my sleeping time.”
I was dumbstruck at such casualness, at that age, but I have realized after many many years that she was very particular about her freedom, with her time. The only frustration which I saw in her eyes was when she was advised not to go for a medical career, as she wanted to be a doctor, as a professional. So she chose economics as her subject and excelled in that subject too. We met only after graduation, after the school years. She was happy that I looked beautiful and was about to settle with marriage. Having lost her mother recently, she wanted to stay unmarried to be with her father.
However, she got married years after. She was as vibrant at the age of 40. She said that she performs whenever she has been invited. She could not make time to learn ‘Odissi’, which required the commitment. Although she could execute any performance herself which she saw, because of being naturally gifted, she was not considered in the league of great dancers. I often wondered, if an artist has to be 24 hours artist to be called an artist.
Odissi brings a sense of liberation as it connects to the universe, and each being. That is when one becomes free of competition, and ultimately touches a stage of bliss in every human being stimulating an absorbing dance. I realized it gradually, as I dwelt upon Ruchika’s philosophy more and more.
Lately, I have started being a dancer myself.