Becoming Shahrukh: My Childhood Quest for Spotlight

Becoming Shahrukh: My Childhood Quest for Spotlight

Arms stretched. 

Palms open. 

Head at just a little bit of an angle (to the right.) 

The smile, soft yet crooked. 

No. Crooked yet soft. 

Eyes almost closed. 

Eyes not closed enough to prevent the twinkle from escaping. 

The pose held for a bit. 

A gentle bend backwards. 

And then a bit of a bend to the right. 

Just a little bit. 

Safe to say I could be Shahrukh. 

Perhaps a hundred hours of practice. 

Perhaps a thousand. 

I could be Shahrukh. 

Divya Didi did not know that I could be Shahrukh. Else she would not have given me a bit part in the cousins’ performance that summer night. She did not know but I was going to make sure she learned her lesson. All of them ignored me as I sat out the rehearsals. She was coming up with events. I kept the grumpy expression but inside I was laughing. They will all learn their lesson soon. Including Didi who had copied up to all the cousins. This one? This one is just a kid, thought all those eight to eleven year olds. 

They rehearsed and rehearsed. I kept my tantrum going. Went out to play with my friends down the lane. Aware all along that they will be playing ‘Yeh Tara Woh Tara’ at 6:00. Up on that stage they have put together. So clever and so grown up. They will see soon. 

I sneaked back into the house quietly. And of course they were on stage. The song just about to start. A deep breath and I was ready. It was time to show all my cousins that they made a mistake. I should have been the hero. I should have been Shahrukh. 

The music started, and I rushed in front of the improvised stage. All the adults watching. Mamta Mausi in the front row. I was her favourite, I thought. I felt even surer that my plan will work. Surely Mamta Mausi will tell everyone that I am the best after my performance. 

I did it. I was Shahrukh. For seven minutes and four seconds. I did not remember all the steps but wherever there was a gap I had a fall back option. You know, arms stretched, palms open, smile crooked yet gentle, gentle yet crooked. That sort of thing. 

The song was over. The adults were applauding. Just had to turn and see the faces of the vanquished ‘we are all grown up’ gang. Such joy ahead. 

I turned.

But. But they were applauding. Laughing and applauding. Not feeling ‘upstaged.’ What is happening? 

Then they came down from the stage. Patted my head. Divya Didi gave me a tight hug. Well, it felt good. They will have to learn their lesson another day. 

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