On this momentous occasion, my mind goes back to some of my earliest memories of accompanying my mother when she came to you, Aunty, for music lessons. I sat by her side and at your feet, pretending to ‘put talam’ on my lap.
I remember being enamored by the dance classes you taught and was thrilled when you agreed to accept me as a student. How do I summarize the huge role you have played in my life? Over the years you taught me dance, music, Natya Shastra, Tala Shastra, public speaking and so much more; all of it with perseverance, patience and humour. In your singular mission of the pursuit of knowledge and perfection, you led by example.
You faced all of life's obstacles with quiet dignity, grace, almost superhuman strength and resilience.
Over the years, I have travelled to many cities for further studies and work. Yet, no matter where I am, listening to your songs that transport me back to SIES School, in your presence, with a wonderful community of dancers and friends.
As Aubrey Lynch said, "To touch, to move, to inspire. That is the true gift of dance." Aunty, you have touched, moved and inspired more people than I can count. In being your student,
I have received the best gift of all !
It was 1997 and I was attending a friend's wedding reception, when I got distracted by the sound of music pertaining to a dance recital. Curious, I sneaked out of the reception to find out more. It was an arangetram being held on another floor at the same venue.
I stood scared and timid outside the dance hall watching the dancers from afar. I caught no glimpse of the Guru then and little did I know that I would perform my arangetram under the aegis of the same Guru - Smt. Rajee Narayan.
I was initiated into Bharatanatyam at age six but the training didn't last long and I quit by age nine. The longing to learn further was always there and by the time I was out of my teens the desire took hold again. I considered for long and it was a good four years later that I joined "Aunty".
It's been only nine years with Aunty but when I look back, I see how naive and raw I was in those initial days and how much I have learnt and improved over the period, and the miles I still have to go.
What I admire about her? Her profound knowledge of dance and music; her immense talent in creating compositions and jathis for dance; her Voice - she has trained in Carnatic music and given kutcheris; her talent for choreography - which brings out the brilliance of rhythm and meaning; her patience with a new student; her temper - with an errant senior student; her punctuality and the way she conducts herself.
Just by being herself she teaches me to appreciate the arts, the necessity of discipline and punctuality and the need for practice and hardwork.
We have shared smiles, tears (always mine), bouquets (from me to her) and brickbats (from her to me). Would I have it any other way? Never! Given a second chance I would still want her as my Guru, legendary temper notwithstanding!