“Daddy, we will go to cilcus tonight.” The first thing I heard as I entered my bedroom.
Tip: Gilaffe equals Giraffe, Lain equals Rain and Hulley equals Hurrey. You join the dots.
After her daily follow-up and my procrastination for about a fortnight, my three year old, Gulu, decided to switch from request-mode to declaration-mode.
Running out of reasons to postpone, finally I surrendered. I nodded in approval.
“Wow! Yey!” she jumped in joy and rushed uncontrollably towards me to give me a hug – actually, to give my legs a hug.
I tapped on her head as she went back to her teaching class where she had made six of her teddy bears sit tidily in two queues of three each; needless to say, she was the teacher.
Gulu had tremendous fascination about the circus thanks to the cartoons and rhymes that she watched everyday, religiously. The fancy, glittery circus rings with funny clowns would tickle her even when she could hardly keep her eyes open owing to tiredness and sleep. Pretty girls performing acrobatics, trapeze, colorful hula hoops, the band and the music, the jugglers, unicycles and the tightrope walkers; everything thrilled her more than her favorite chocolate ever could.
As we reached the circus venue, just by looking at the glittery tent and flurry of dangling disco lights from a distance, her bubble of boredom exploded and ecstasy spread all over everything that surrounded her, including me. Out of nowhere, she started kissing me on my face, and head. I didn’t resist that. I never did.
We took our seats in the first row, right in the front of the circus ring. Just a couple of feet wide pathway separated us form the performance area.
My wife and I thought it would be the best to get an uninterrupted view for our little one so that she could observe her first real circus at its best.
The bugle blew, the curtains rose and the band played sparkly tunes. The lights went nuts and so did Gulu.
She started jumping in my lap and clapping frantically as the trapeze artistes entered the ring running with broad smiles. Just as they started performing daring swinging acts in the air, Gulu escaped from my lap and started walking to the center ring.
I promptly got up and brought her back and tried to pacify her excitement. “Gulu, we cannot go in there. Look at that girl; how well is she doing. See?” I said pointing upwards to the girl swinging with her legs wrapped around the swing-bar and hands free in the air.
She was performing at the height good enough to cause neck sprain if you constantly watched her from the first row for too long.
“Daddy, I want to do it too.” Gulu said pointing her teeny index finger to the girl in the clouds.
“No. No. Baby. It is risky. You may get hurt and anyway we are here to watch, no? We cannot go inside this ring. See, that is why they have this ring. People inside cannot come out. And those who are outside- us – cannot go in. That’s how it is. Ok?” I had mastered the art of fabricating rules for Gulu in the situations where it could be hazardous to her.
“No, I will not get hult. I know how to swing daddy. I do it in the palk evelyday. Let me go.” She said again continuing her struggle to get off my grab. Her finger was still pointing up at the swing.
Thankfully trapeze act ended and everyone clapped. Gulu too dropped her plan and joined applaud.
The next act of the acrobats was right in front of us. Right at the edge of the ring, their rubber bodies twisted and turned like jell-o in a swift smooth motion.
I reached my pocket as my phone vibrated; Gulu grabbed the opportunity to flee. She rushed and stood right in front of the central ring, on the pathway, facing the center.
With a delay of a couple of seconds, she started to match each movement of the acrobats in the best way she could.
The artists bowed and bent and twisted and jumped right in front of us; Gulu did all of that outside the ring. Her zeal made up for the lack of precision in her act.
The audience was happily diverted from the main act going on inside the ring. It was the circus within circus, outside the central ring, that grabbed all the eyeballs. A few whistles and a few cheers from the audience boosted Gulu’s spirits.
As a gymnast started rotating a hula hoop around her waist, Gulu went along – minus the actual hula hoop. So, practically, Gulu was just making circles in the air with her waist; legs spread wide open. She swiveled her waist so hard that she got off balance a couple of times and fell flat on her bums.
The hoop artist could not help noticing Gulu right in front of her imitating everything she did. After going through her act, she stepped out of the ring and walked straight to Gulu. She might have seen her younger self in Gulu. She kissed Gulu on forehead and gave her a high-five with a cheerful smile. The crowd applauded.
Gulu clapped, turned around and smirked at me as if saying “See, I am the supelstal, Daddy. And you denied me doing this?”
The scenario carried on for another couple of hours with the artists inside the ring changing from martial artistes, shooters, gymnasts, acrobats, dancers, clowns, cyclists, jugglers. But the artist outside the ring remained the unchanged – Gulu. Without the props, she mimed everything they did inside the ring.
The crowd felt special to have enjoyed the circus; and a circus within circus. Kisses and blessings poured at Gulu at the end of the show where she wasn’t meant to be the star originally.
It was a day when Gulu would learn something, I had thought. But I ended up learning instead.
Circus is not an event. It is an attitude. It is what you are born with, or not.