Twinkle in the soul
There is a huge banyan tree under which the old village grandfather sits. As the wind blows over the desert, it raises the fine dust from the sands and settles them all over the sun-kissed leaves of the banyan tree.
"Come on children," beckoned the grandfather gesturing at them playing nearby.
"Children, sit down quickly. I have something to give you all today, as well as tell you something very important."
The children looked on in anticipation, as the grandfather dug his hand inside his long bag.
He pulled out a string of pearls and, holding it aloft, said: "Now each one of you will get a pearl and along with it a message."
I was the first one to get a beautiful, big, round pearl.
"Take it my child and remember always, the day you stop learning, you stop growing. Venture out and learn new things, no matter what your age."
I looked gleefully at the pearl as his words echoed in my ears.
The alarm clock shook me out of my deep slumber. I tossed on the bed to reach it and woke up, my right hand still clasped.
Slowly I opened my eyes to look at my hand, but as I opened my fingers I found it was empty. Where was my pearl? At that instant I realised that it was a dream.
Later, I drove to Indian Institute of Performing Arts to enrol for kathak dance classes.
Walking out, I met the principal. "Oh, nice to see you after a long time, how come here?" he questioned.
"I came to enrol for kathak..." but before I could continue, he interrupted, saying, "For your daughter?"
"No, for myself," I replied.
I could see the stunned look as he continued: "It's good to see a lady like you come to learn a classical art form at our institute."
My first day at the class was very interesting. The teacher was younger than me by 20 years or so and every word of hers had to have a gesture, a dancer after all, I thought. I was inspired.
After mastering the initial few steps, we moved on to other hand movements and foot work. I was enjoying every minute of it and looked wonder-eyed when she gave me my ghungroos (dancing bells) - 200 of them, 100 bells to tie on each leg.
As I took a step, it went 'jingle' and then next 'jingle-jingle' and I was on cloud nine.
The rhythm of my footsteps and simultaneous sound of the bells was an amazingly exhilarating experience, which made me feel like an extraordinary human being.
Once home, I called my family in India to tell them all about it, but all I got was: "You? Why, at this age?"
I was flabbergasted! What did they mean by saying 'at this age?'
"At your age, you must take up some sombre activities like learning yoga, going to song classes, etc," my mother said.
"My son-in-law has encouraged her to do this, I know" was my father's reaction.
But this is not going to deter me, for I strongly believed in my 'pearl of wisdom'.
I wanted to scream... years may wrinkle the skin but giving up enthusiasm, wrinkles the soul.
The next day I went even more determined to the class and it is continuing in full swing. For me it's having a twinkle in my eyes, even though I can see my first wrinkle.
This twinkle has come to me I think only because I am constantly trying to learn and by doing so keeping my brain busy.
No matter what your age may be, don't give it a second thought when it comes to learning something you want to.
If you have a hidden desire to learn something, go.... there is nobody to stop you.
For there is an age old saying that goes like this: Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.