It was a very sorry little rabbit that hopped away. The ears were all drooped, the head was hanging low, and even the bob that went for a tail, seemed to take it hard. He had been unable to open his mouth at all. He knew his little speech by heart, but just when the time came to say it all, courage failed him. He stood frozen for some time… resplendent white, whiskers shivering and feet together. All he could do was stare around with wide eyes and look for familiar faces. Suddenly, the only place he wanted to be was in his mommy’s lap. In a decisive move, he hopped away searching for her face. He felt better that no one booed him. Poor bunny, his chance would only come next year now.
It was the warrior’s turn next. He walked in royally with slow, purposeful steps. He showed all the signs of bravado you’d associate with someone so powerful. Without pausing further and staring right into the crowd, he declared, “I am Shivaji, the mighty Maratha warrior.” Out came the sword and he brandished it with commendable finesse. When he felt he had awed the crowd enough with his swordsmanship, he hilted the weapon and walked away. But not before he gave a quick sideways glance to the people who would be deciding his fate.
The vegetable vendor-ess hastened forward just as the Warrior exited. In fact so eager was she to play her part that she almost bumped into him. A few cucumbers made a leap for freedom from the basket on her head in that mishap. She gathered them all one by one and also rescued a truant tomato from a cruel fate. Through all this, she was as cool as the cucumbers she had just collected. She walked with much aplomb and a gait suited only to her ilk. In a shrill voice, the loudest her tiny vocal cords could muster, she listed her wares and their prices. After a few such calls, she plunked herself on the floor and put down her basket. She fanned herself with the free end of her saree and prepared to wait for customers.
As each tiny tot limbered up on stage, I recalled a tale from long ago in what used to be the ‘middle’ in the TOI edit page.
An eager daughter wanting to play Mickey Mouse and her parents equally eager to make sure she did just that. Preparations were underway…… lots of thermocol, glue, satin, scissors and other nitty–gritties to get that shape with the big ears. A small speech was written for her to recite. It started like this, “Hi, I am Mickey Mouse from Disneyland.”
But try as they might, nothing would make the head seem right. The ears appeared lopsided and the nose would not stay fast. These folks were not about to give up though. Since only the best would do for their daughter they hit upon a brilliant idea. The much talented Ms. Sen had then recently won the Miss. Universe crown. Why not get their precious darling to act her? There preparations were much simpler to execute this time..a grand gown, a sash made of satin and a little crown painted silver. They even made a new speech to go with the new act.
Finally, it was showtime. And in walked the beauty blowing kisses in the air, smiling and looking all around at the adulation being showered on her. A shush spread over the crowd as she took her place near the microphone. “Hi”, she said with a confident air, “I am Sushmita Sen, from Disneyland!”
After watching all these stellar performance I wished I could be among them……. dressed up as someone I am not and saying things I otherwise won’t……..