A few Friday nights back, I invited everyone from the workshop around to my house after work for some egg rolls, mishti and fizzy drinks. It was almost the equivalent of five o’clock drinks back home, except instead of being outside a bar amongst tobacco fumes and strangers, our little Loyal family were squashed up inside my single bedroom apartment with five or six people on my ‘three person’ sofa and the rest sitting around on the floor or wherever they could perch. My place is only a fifteen minute walk from the workshop, yet the ladies couldn’t stop saying how peaceful the area was. One lady said, “I could get a really good nights sleep here!”
On second thought it was nothing like five o’clock drinks.
After we ate, I put on some music for everyone to dance to. None of the adults felt like getting their groove on, but it didn’t stop the kids! One of the newer ladies who has started with us brought along her two and a half year old son and nine year old daughter. Her little boy started busting some great moves, displaying great promise for Bollywood stardom. He even threw in an attempted head spin for good measure (although I had to hold his feet and do the spinning for him). Watching him dance was just about the cutest thing I’d seen in a long time; his little toddler legs and chubby stomach were bouncing along staccato to the music while all of his new aunties watched on lovingly.
I then heard that it was the first time his mum had seen him dance. Their little room in the middle of the red light area is dark, windowless, and only has enough space for a raised bed and a small television. I don’t think I’m reading into it too much when I say that their needs for food, water and safety had to be made a higher priority than creative expression. Yet, somehow in that tiny room he had seen enough dancing on that television to store the information away for a rainy day. Except the day he came to my house wasn’t a rainy day, it was simply a moment where he had sufficient space and freedom to do what was stored away in his little heart.
Maybe this instance speaks truth to people who are oppressed all over the world? What promise can a small opportunity that has been grasped hold? Perhaps this little family can beat the odds which were stacked against them. I doubt they will ever own a five bedroom bungalow on the banks of the Ganges, however I don’t doubt that because of the opportunity his mum has taken a hold of in coming to work with us that their lives will change significantly from the script they were bound to before. I can say in all hopefulness that their future will hold more security and that they will be able to dance together freely again.
Perhaps this little boy will even make it to Bollywood.