A year ago, I was getting ready for the most important competition of my life. You’re probably thinking about a sporting event or something more on the educational side.
Well, it was neither.
It was a ballet competition. I had been training for over three years. Every day, I reluctantly got out of bed at 5:00 am! Sleep is literally my favorite thing ever, so you can imagine how torturous the act of waking up is for me. I concentrated very hard and never let my focus slip. My teachers appreciated my effort immensely. I was that student who was always assigned to help other students. I would almost never be at the back while performing.
Two years down. The competition was approaching. Even though it was several months away, people were super anxious. The dance rooms were full all day. Everyone burnt the midnight oil to perfect their moves. I had to practice my routine with three other girls in my class. I absolutely loved dancing with them. We used to have so much fun. Dancing with them used to release my stress levels. We were the only group that knew the routine perfectly.
The School of Classical Ballet and Western Dance, where I learned ballet, invited judges from the Royal Academy of Dance which is a UK-based examination board. Then we would have to go to our groups of four and perform our routines. A month later, we would get to know the results. Even though the routines were performed in groups, there would always be one winner, a first runner-up, and second runner-up. The rest of the dancers would either pass with distinction, merit or pass.
About two weeks now until my competition. I wasn’t even a bit nervous. My costume was ready and I had already tried out my hair and makeup before. I was set. My routine was perfected.
And then one night, it all fell apart. I started getting acute shooting pains in my stomach. I couldn’t even stand straight. My face was hot and red. I wasn’t able to hold my tears back. My parents were so worried. I had to be rushed to the hospital, in the middle of the night. My mom never left my hand. My dad was talking to the doctor every opportunity he got. My temperature was 103 degrees. They inserted a needle in my vein for the ivy drip. I couldn’t bear the pain. Soon I was admitted to a room and had to go for a sonogram and an MRI Scan.
Little did I know that my dancing career was going to take a turn. The doctors hit me with the most shocking news. And it wasn’t about my upcoming surgery to remove my swollen appendix. It was about not being able to attend the competition. That night I basically bawled myself to sleep. I couldn’t fathom why all of this was happening to me. Why me? I put in blood, sweat and tears for this moment. It felt like it was all being snatched away from me.
A week after my surgery, my ballet teacher came to visit me in the hospital bearing a certain gift. Not the physical kind. Instead, she told me the greatest news. I was being given the opportunity to perform solo for the competition. The judges were aware and understood my situation.
Two weeks later, costumes, dance, makeup: everything was set! I danced like no one was watching. I felt proud of myself. At the end of my performance, the judge told me that she noticed a certain twinkle in my eye. Only I knew why.
A month later, my friends and I gathered at the awards ceremony. It was nerve-wracking. I was squeezing my friend’s hand so tight that it turned blue. The awards for third and second place had been distributed. I felt like I was about to throw up. There were butterflies in my stomach. And finally, they announced my name. Me! I won! I came first. That experience changed my life.
It was worth every second.
Sanaya Mehta is a staff reporter
Edited by Navya Sethi