MILAN DAYS


Today was awfully hot – the weather that is!
I just couldnt help but think about the winer months that just flew by. And my thoughts come to a standstill when I think of November (invariably, the time when I fall in ‘Love’!)
Beautiful things happen in November, for me. It has always been like that.
Ever since the last four years – the time I have spent in Delhi – I have had an amazing experience called Milan happening for me, in the month of November.
Milan, technically, is an all Delhi based Christian Youth Feastival. Essentially, something about dance and song and drama. It is a two day affair, with 30 – 40 groups of youth participating in it. These groups are church youth associations. Somehow, Milan brings about something more than just talents. I have always found new friends in old existing acquaintances – without fail – every Milan.
The practice sessions for this feastival start as early as October. And every weekend is spent off in toiling for the same. The frsutration, the laughters, the tears… Oh! The joys of it all!
I wrote this piece for the church youth column right after Milan 2002. You would find mention of a couple of people right through the article. I cant help it if you dont know them. Its just to show the personal level at which the youngsters work for a feastival called Milan.
Read on…

MILAN DAYS

A wintry November morning. The Sunday mass was over and the parishioners had already filed out of the church loans. I briskly made my way to the Holy Child convent nearby. There was a song on my lips and a spring in my steps. I entered the school and walked through the hallway.
There were no rhyme singing or children’s din – the usual you would expect when you enter such a place. What caught my ears instead was a piece of western classical music and rhythmic thuds of feet accompanying it. There was a dance practice session in progress. Leena was gracefully gliding among her dancers, most of them sweaty in spite of the weather, and correcting a few steps here and there. This session was going on in the music hall. There was a rusty old piano in there. ‘One day,’ I thought, ‘I will play it.’
I went to the nearby classroom and found a messy bundle of clothes and a pondering Teresa sitting right in the middle of it. She was wondering about what the costumes would be for the dancers. There is a lot of work to be done and she was getting ready to take the measurements for the costumes. A couple of young girls were hovering about her asking ‘Didi, should we do this?’ ‘Didi, should we do that?’ I thought of going over and giving her a hand but something else stopped me right where I was.
A lively song being sung pretty well, with a rare key going a little off-tune, reached my ears. I hurried towards the room – that’s where my heart lay. I didn’t even bother to knock. I caught a surprised Sophie unawares. She was making the team practice. Sheldon sat with the guitar perched on his knee. Leslie uncle and Paulose uncle couldn’t make it today. Sophie was telling the group that there are just a few days left for Milan and that this performance was not up to the mark. Eljoh and Dolly were asked to put in more life into the song (which they obediently did later on). Sophie saw me and asked me why I was not there for the practices. I mumbled a really lame excuse and told her that I would be back very soon.
I left the room in search of someone. I was looking for Tanya. She was to work on the poster. I found her in Class One A. She knelt beside a chart paper that was beautifully done with a pigeon’s picture. She was giving it the final brushes, as a professional would do, not being satisfied with anything she had done so far.
Milan preparations were going on in full swing. The children would be here till late evening. After all, it’s just a Sunday that we get for practices. They will have lunch here. Some of us took turns to bring lunch for all. ‘Lunch’ was one curry with bread and a banana or so. It may seem light. It is kept light so that we don’t feel lethargic after lunch. We had to practice. The shields we got last year were lying in one of our homes. What all of us had carried home last Milan was the sheer joy of jumping onto the stage to receive them. A state of euphoric excitement! Most of them were hoarse from cheering and shouting. Almost toeing the lines of hooliganism!
Mohan bhaiya brought me out of my reverie. I had not seen him but he had seen me enter the school and go into all the classrooms ‘loafing around’. He just had a smile fixed on his warm face. There was sudden flush of guilt in me. I knew I have not been giving my sincere efforts in the practice sessions. And I knew that he knew it as well. I tried to make conversation. ‘We will win Milan this time, right?’ He gave a knowing laugh and said that we would have to wait and see. He had seen right through me. I left for the music practice feeling a wee bit embarrassed. ‘How naïve!’ I thought to myself as I sang ‘California Dreaming’ along with the group.

BTW.. We won the third overall championship that year…

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