Right through my school days, the Annual Day was probably the day I always looked forward to the most, year after year!
Was it the excitement of performing on the stage, in front of beaming parents, or the anxious wait to get your prize for co-curricular activities(CCA), or the thrill of bunking class for practice... I know not what, but I always had a hard time sleeping on the eve of the D-day, my little heart thumping loud with excitement!
The memories are still fresh.. I can still see me in white-n-white singing the group song "Kadam se kadam, milake chalo" in IL auditorium as a 6 year old. The next year was an action song, with all the 30 of us dressed as Nehru!!! We had all got our kurtas stitched and wore a red satin pundit ji coat with a gulab pinned on it! The year after that was another action song with me doing a "koyal"!!! A black kurta-pyjama with a pair of black wings made by the teachers and a black beak which I had made it myself of which I was toooo proud! I can imagine how silly I would have looked by the expression of the chief guest when she gave me my prize. She was smiling ear-to-ear in the photograph, handing over the prize to a cuckoo!!!
Having advanced to more "human-like" attires for the next few years was a welcome change, for, people could now spot me on stage with ease :)
But even then, the feeling was all the same. The day usually starts early with all of the "participants" (boy, that was a privileged section!) coming to the town hall where the function would be held. There would be stage rehearsals again and again while the ones free for the time would go around exploring the town hall, playing hide-n-seek and what not!
And come 4:30, the early birds would be there, occupying seats..Meanwhile the "participants" get dressed in the green room. As the make-up artist paints your face, you hold your breath for the fear of smearing the lip stick while you peek out of the corner of your eyes and try to make out if you are looking fine from the expressions of your friends who are watching you in earnest! The patience you exhibit is amazing and the moment the artist mutters a "hmmm" indicating he is done, you grab the mirror to check if you look good! And most of the times you will look sick and go and complain to the teacher in charge. She would pat your cheek and say no, you are looking great! And that helps!!
Once done, you are seen wandering back stage, meeting other friends and playing teh guess-who games with them, for you never recognize each other! And by 6 the hall is jam packed. And then the agonizing wait for the chief guest's speech to get over, followed by princi's annual report, blah-blah-blah.. meanwhile you are all queued up back stage with your badge number. In your 10th or 12th, you would be at the tail end! And somehow dad and mom would come and meet us here, hand over a pack of biscuits may be and say "Enda oru vesham!!" (What a dress!!!) with an expression that will prompt you to take a hanky and remove the excess lip stick!
The prize distribution ceremony gets over in a jiffy and you don't even have time to check what book you got as prize! We gotta run for the last practice! Time flies the fastest during that time and you would be seen standing back stage, looking at your other friends performing and you wait, for your group is the next.
As you listen to the mic throwing echoes around, as you vaguely make out the occupants of the first row against the glaring lights, as you hear your ma'am saying "boys and girls...do your best!" , and as you play that long dialog where you always made mistakes again and again in your mind, you can hear your heart is racing, and probably of the guy standing next to you too! Probably he has heard yours too, for he is looking at you and grinning. And then you notice that the curtains are falling... and the people on stage are going away... Your heart has almost stopped beating now!!! The lights go off and the curtains are down. You hear a voice "C'mon..lets go!"..somebody screams a "All the best guys!" and you softly walk on the wooden stage...take your position... curtains up..lights on... and you give your bestest smile to the audience to start with!!!
Rest can come in another episode!