Before a live audience no less. An audience of a substantial number. It was enough to dry my mouth out and make my tongue parchment. I am not a person who gets onto stage easily. When cameras are pointed, I hide behind the nearest wall, tree or substantial person, when asked to speak on an issue in conference type situations I keep my words brief and limited and throw the mike back to the person who seems to want to make love to it the most after I’ve said the bare minimum.
So when I took on the responsibility of compere-ing the Ganapati programme being held in our society complex, I am sure I smoked something not quite legal seconds before the question was posed to me. There I was with mike in hand, along with scraps of paper on which folks had scribbled down things they wanted me to say about what they were about to perform, and an audience which was looking at me with narrowed, incisive eyes. If I was back in Grade 2, I might have just wet my pants again, but as it happened, I had a reputation to protect. The son was in the audience. I couldnt dare make a laughing stock of myself, I would never be able to give him timeouts for the rest of my life, not even if I draped rounds of bullets across my body Phoolan Devi style and had holsters on either side, loaded with quick firing Glocks.
So there I was, in my kurti (yes, yes, I have succumbed, I am now shapeless old lady wearing kurtis to camouflage my tyres), hands trembling, talking into the mike. The show thankfully went off rather smoothly. Folks applauded at the right time, and with the right spirit. No one heckled or booed, of course, they know that I know where they live, and I could hunt them down in cold blood once the evening was over. No one threw tomatoes. No one asked me to shut up and get on with the show. I think that constitutes a success, given how rude audiences are these days. Or maybe, I am terrifying enough for no one to want to mess with me.
We had a celebrity as our chief guest too, and she was kind enough to make me feel at ease, and thankfully was totally deglammed so I could feel good about the last minute borrowed rubberband to keep the damn hair off my face, given industrial strength fans placed all around which made me look like a true blue chudail with hair streaming all over and making the little children scream and run for cover as I approached.
The child was very chuffed that I spoke into the mike all evening. It made him puff his chicken chest out a bit. The next time I am handed a mike, I must realise that I will be in every second photograph by default, and skip the behenji hair. The behenji look is one I just cant rock.