Friday, May 25, 2012


    I looked around at the near empty stands. It is the end of the season. And, the rains have started, said my dad, the circus expert also specializing in weather. He moved in front, to our row, because the son insisted his grand dad sit him on his lap and fan him with newspapers that we had thoughtfully carried.

   This year, we reached my parents’ home in the last week of April, in time for dinner. And, before dessert of freshly plucked sweet mangoes was cut and served, dad was piping of how he was waiting for us to come to go to the circus. It had been their wish to take the grand kids along, gushed mom. Oh well.

    The announcements were made. We were prohibited from taking pictures. The show began. This teenaged boy with the sweetest of smiles started his acrobatic stunts. It was like he was made of silicone, of the baking dish variety. I gaped. Then, I clapped. The acrobat turned to me, his hands raised like gymnasts at the end of their act, his smile causing his eyes to twinkle.

    Silence. But, for the drone of the announcer, the background music being played live, the whirring of the giant pedestal fans, muffled traffic from outside. These were classy performance, from animals to clowns to cyclists, jugglers, trapeze artists and acrobats. There was an appalling lack of applause.

    Mom had argued, last night, that circus people were not making too much of money. It was up to us to encourage them and keep this tradition alive. So, we cheered, and clapped. Dad said, hear, hear, which embarrassed me like anything. It would have been magical had people also joined in to thundering claps of appreciation.
    
    My parents visit the circus every year it comes to town. It is childhood memories for them, happiness shared between them about the times then, years ago. The circus leaves in the last week of April, and we reach home for the annual summer holidays only in May, which means we never get to see it.

    Not that I was interested. The son is still in kindergarten, and the thought of carrying him, with all the diaper paraphernalia, little boxes of snacks etc was too much for this momma, who couldn’t wait to thrust both her kids into the hands of her parents and escape into oblivion.
    
Untitled
the one picture i took. it was before the announcements 

    There were instances of loud applause, especially during this dance routine in the air on two flowing white curtains. Sure, they had seen the routine before in one of them dance reality shows on television. They also had the programmes nicely spaced, with animal and bird antics coming up at neat intervals keeping the kids entertained when they got bored by the stuff that grown-ups would enjoy.

    The last time I saw the circus was in the tenth standard with my two cousin brothers and my maternal grandfather. In those days, there were lions and tigers and ringmasters with whips. Not so anymore. Still, by God, I was happy I got to see the circus. 



4 comments:

Sindhu S said...

Yes Shilpa - I too remember going season after season to the circus - Grand Circus, Gemini Circus etc., which used to camp at the banks of Bharathapuzha. Remember the elephants, the lions, the trapeze artists and the dwarves vividly. Remember a dog which once came and stood near my father when its handler asked him to point out the man with the largest moustache! :D A few stray thoughts of nostalgia are allowed once in a while...

shilpa said...

but, of course, we must allow ourselves ten minutes or so everyday to reminds ourselves of the days bygone, both good and bad!

aiyyo, i remember uncle only too well to know why the dog went there. but, i am amazed at that dog :)

Shalini said...

For me too the circus takes me back to childhood days. I can't remember when I last saw a show, but I suppose I'll be seeing one soon, thanks to E! They have such a magic to them, don't they. But it must be so hard for them to compete with all they stuff kids see on tv these days.

shilpa said...

they weren't exuberant, but they didn't hate it either.