My dance teacher regularly gives the Salvation Army children food and biscuits, so everyone there, from the workers to the watchman’s son, knows her. The little ones have given her a name, too – ‘Biskitwali’. The most endearing feature of the epithet is that no offence is intended , and none is taken.
Yesterday, I parked my bike outside my teacher’s house and a cheeky child came up to me with his bright smile. “Dance class,” he proclaimed.
“Dance class?” inquired another child.
“Haan!” The tone said ‘naturally, don’t you know even that?’. “Tereko nahin malum kya?” Top-speed speech, barely completing each word, heedless of grammar.
I took off my helmet and scarf.
“But what is that?” the second child asked in Hindi. “What is ‘dance class’?”
“Arre!” the first one said, as if talking to a dunce. “Wo biskitwali hai, na? Wo actually dance teacher hai. Tereko nahin malum kya?” (“That ‘biscuit-wali’ is there, no? She’s actually a dance teacher! Don’t you even know that?”)
And I could not get out of my head the picture of my distinguished and dignified dance teacher disguised as a seller of biscuits.