I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I do remember that I was in preschool. It was our school’s annual concert. My friend Lata and I were in the group dance of the pre-primary section. We were a group of 25 children. It was a Butterfly dance, where one was the queen butterfly, and the others were her courtiers’. Lata and I were a pair. During rehearsals, our pair was the best and an example for others.

It was the concert evening. We were all very excited. All of us were in colourful costumes with pretty cardboard wings by our sides. Our dance was scheduled third, after the prayer and the welcome dances.

Everyone was waiting for the chief guest to arrive. Finally, he arrived, late by thirty minutes. We were waiting impatiently for him to finish his speech, while receiving continuous warnings from our teacher to take care of our wings. Lata was not in her usual jovial mood. It seemed that she wanted to say something, but couldn’t say it.

At last, the speech was over and the prayer dance started. Our teacher took us to the back of the stage and made us stand in order of entry. She said to us, “Children, don’t be nervous and do your best, just look at Lata and follow her.” She specifically told Lata, ”Lata, do proper whirls and jumps just like you were doing during rehearsals.”

Lata stayed silent. Before the teacher could ask her why, we were called on stage for our performance. The song began and we started to gyrate to the music. But to everyone’s surprise, Lata was not dancing properly. She was barely moving herself and taking whirls and jumps slowly and carefully. Other children started copying her and it seemed as if all the butterflies were very exhausted. Because of this, our cheerful dance turned into a dull one. Afterwards, the teacher asked Lata whether she was alright, but she didn’t say anything. The concert finished and we were handed over to our parents.

After many days, I overheard my mother telling my father, ”Do you know what happened to Lata that day? Why the Butterfly dance was so dull despite it being so energetic in rehearsals?” From my parents’ conversation, I discovered the secret behind Lata’s strange behaviour on the concert day. Lata’s stomach was upset and she had soiled her clothes, and because of that, she couldn’t dance properly. Moreover, after reaching home, Lata was so embarrassed that she didn’t tell her mother anything, and went to sleep without changing. The cat finally came out of the bag when her brother, who shared the room with her, caught a whiff. Finally, after a late night shower and her mother’s consolation, Lata returned to her original mood.

Some memories of childhood are embarrassing and make us blush in our adulthood too. I don’t know where Lata is these days, but I’m sure she would not have forgotten this incident.

Written by Geeta Jena

Geeta spends most of her time indulging in her hobbies - teaching and writing. She has written short stories and poems in Gujarati and Hindi for her college magazine. During her tenure as a Pre-primary teacher, she has written rhymes and plays for her students. Her favourite genres are romance and supernatural.