I once read a short story – I think it was by Paulo Coelho, but for the life of me I cannot recollect its title – about a priest who gives a sermon on a flight. A voice in his head urges him to do so, and though he does not find a logical reason to do it, he does it because his instincts tell him to. He gets up, gives the sermon, and goes back to his seat feeling an enormous weight lifted off his chest.
This was the story I was thinking about, or more accurately, the story whose title I was trying to recollect, as I sat in the uncomfortable aisle seat of a semi-sleeper bus from Bengaluru to Kannur. Because I did not get a window seat, I had to crane my neck to look at the
scenery green blur that the bus was rushing past. The girl next to me was snoring away (what a waste of a window seat!), despite the horror movie that was playing on full volume. By horror movie, I mean scenes where a deranged looking woman laughed unrealistically while scared looking men looked helpless, and the wives of the scared looking men made choking noises while tears and snot ran down their faces. Those are the typical movies they play on intercity buses. Apart from being un-scary, they’re annoying and unnecessarily loud.
Is that why I was thinking of a priest? Well, not quite. I was thinking about this story because there was a voice in my own head urging me to do something I never would under normal circumstances. Or under any circumstances, unless drunk and with a group of familiar faces. Maybe not even then. No, it was not asking me to give sermons, because – to quote the lyrics of Take Me To Church – if the heavens ever did speak, I’d be the last true mouthpiece!
It was asking me to get up and dance. I know, right?! Voices in your head are so cray-cray sometimes! But there I sat, with a heavy laptop bag (which was also stuffed with clothes), neck hurting from illeg-ticket-edly staring out of someone else’s window, dead batteries in the iPod and a woman badly in need of an exorcism screaming into my ears from the speakers, when this voice said, “Just do it. You know you want to. People will join. Does it matter what they think? Will you see them again?”
I cringed from embarrassment at the very thought of what my instincts were telling me to do, I sank lower and lower into my seat in the hopes it would swallow me, so that the voice shuts up – when suddenly! Suddenly there was silence. No more static-mixed screams. The TV screen went blank. The voice in my head shut up.
Then I heard a female’s voice ask, “Is everyone ready!” Was it my imagination? No! Cos suddenly from the front row seat, Allu Arjun jumped up! And behind him was Anushka Manchanda! What they were doing in this bus, I’ll never know, but what they did next surely worked in my favour. Cos they invited everyone to sing and dance!
When your instincts tell you to do something, and an opportunity presents itself – you grab it. But the way your heart races in that one instant before you grab it, that adrenaline rush, there’s nothing more frightening, and at the same time, exhilarating than that moment! Of course, except me, no one looked too thrilled. You tell a bunch of
uptight sober adults to start dancing, they’re not gonna look at you too kindly. But that’s just the fear of being the odd one out – being the first person to raise your hand in school was never a good feeling, was it? You always waited for someone else to go first. And funnily, that’s what I was doing too! But then, Anushka walked right up to me and asked me to get up. Eyes widened, I said a couple of embarrassed “nos”, but deep down I knew all I wanted to do right then was sing and dance!
All my life, I had waited for someone else to go first so I could follow. Technically, Allu Arjun and Anushka Manchanda had gone “first”, but I still felt pretty good when I walked up to the front and made an utter fool of myself with some rather strange dance moves. And if you’re dancing next to Allu Arjun – no matter how fantastic a dancer your friends told you you are – you will still look like a ribbon floating in the wind.
The real fun is in making a fool of yourself while coaxing others to make a fool of themselves! So while I may not have had the grace of either of our “dance party hosts” I was enjoying myself to the T and that’s all that mattered. Eventually everyone was off their seats and singing and dancing.
Now it seems unimportant that I don’t remember the name of that short story. It seems unimportant that I was at first reluctant to follow my instincts. All that’s important is that sometimes, we need to get off our high horses and DANCE!