I have a question ----
How does it feel to stand at the center of the stage...alone...the mike in your hand, your voice piercing through the sheer silence of the auditorium, every pair of eyes transfixed at you, if not to admire or admonish, to check out the source of that booming voice, and all the while weighed down by the pressure of the need to humour, to entertain?
I am all ears for a first timer's experience (and almost sure it'd match mine) so that I know I'm not the only phattu around. Here's what I went through:
I was barely awake, after the Friday night's hangover (from sleeping at 4am after a get together at P's), when R.G. called. After this and that, he came to the point at once:
"The lady who was supposed to anchor today's Bihu function has cancelled out at the last moment. Would you phuleez do it?"
"Jeeez, I'll pee in my pants. I've always been in-a-group, on the stage"
"Arrey, it's easy, you just have to read out the script and there's always a first time. Now come on"
"Umm, can I call you back?"
What a proposition to jolt you out of a perfect Saturday morning snooze. But instead of cursing him for the temptation, and screwing the first morn of my precious weekend, I was thrilled, surprizingly. Ran for dear D.
"You want to do it?"
"Yes, but I aint confident."
"Do you know Frankie?" (Rocky Balboa this time and could I have missed that pounding effect?)
"Frankie Fear. He's your friend and you need not be ashamed of him. He keeps you sharp. You fear because you want to give in your best. Which is good. Just keep Frankie Fear in your control. Don't let it overcome you."
"Feels better already." (Grinning wide)
"There's another way of looking at it. Imagine your audience is dumbass and you're the best. But then you might get careless."
"Franky Fear is better"
"'ll do it", I sms'ed R.G. (Later, it took time to believe I said that)
Unlike the mukali Bihu (usually held in a field, a shade on top, a stage and remains unbounded from the three sides), this time it was a huge amphitheater-like auditorium.
"D., there's a high probability of my succumbing to do the runaway act just in case, please be around and keep the keys handy".
"Don't worry, you'll do it." (But Jiski ph***i hai, usi ko pata hota hai)
The first time I heard my own voice on the microphone, tell you man, I was startled. It was like waking up to a nightmare -- I was "there, doing that" and there was no turning back. Coming to terms with the consciousness of eyes roving all over me, getting used to the many flashlights that made my cheeks burn, feeling the sweat roll down my nape, all in the May heat, in that jazzy silk mekhela-sador - it was everything but easy. I took time to get used to that voice - my voice supposedly, bellowing in the auditorium. In front of me was Hyderabad's Assamese community. Every sixth face was familiar and I could see that let's-see-how-you-do-it look written on each.
The script was unbelievably crappish and in between the show I tried to make as much amends as I could. Okay, I did not do a great job. I did not get them applauding aloud with my wit and humour nor tittilate them enough to leave their seats and run for the stage to join the Bihu dancers. But no chappals came (recession time or politeness I could not tell), no jeering comments heard (at least not where I stood - on the stage).
And I did not run...away.
I did it! :)