Saturday the 7th was the big day. The day I’d been working towards, since the end of October. Preparing, stressing, worrying, practicing and doing arts and crafts like never before… and finally the day arrived: Annual day!
I went back to the school in Sasthavattom on Friday (the 6th). I didn’t really want to go back for the festival. I don’t know why… it actually all felt like so much effort… ooops! Anyhow, I had to get on with it, whether I wanted to go back or not. Because my 4 ‘performances’ needed me - or so I was told by the teachers at the school who were eagerly waiting for me to come back.
Arriving at the school was everything I didn’t expect it to be. Once I got out of the rickshaw and walked towards the office, the kids all came running out of the classrooms, shouting my name, giving me hugs and telling me how much they’d missed me. They were handing me cards and pictures they’d been making for me… Man oh man. I never expected that at all. Quite overwhelming… I’d only been gone for 3 weeks! I guess I never realized how much they really DID want me back… or didn’t want me to leave in the first place.
This was on Friday. That was purely a day of rehearsals. I thought I'd be stressed out to get everything set for the following day. But I took off all the pressure and decided I wasn’t going to be pushing the kids anymore, for any kind of perfection in their performances. I’d done all I could, before leaving and however they now were performing and acting, was as it was going to be on the day – whether it pleased me or not. But they were doing brilliant! I could see during rehearsals that all the kids I’d been working closely with during my 2 months, had continued to work hard, whilst I was gone. They probably still remembered how much I’d been pushing them before I left… and how hard they had to work to please me… oops! But, then again, I mustn’t have been that bad or else they wouldn’t have welcomed me back with open arms.
Anyhow, enough about that… Saturday itself was many things… exciting, stressful, fun, long, tiring, and, most importantly, a day I’ll never forget. The show started at 3pm Indian time – meaning 4pm normal time (Indians are the worst time-keepers I’ve ever come across) and it went on until 9pm… 5 hours of speeches, dance acts, singing performances, demonstrations and (my) dramas. I didn’t get to see any of the other performances because I was either back stage, or on the stage itself, or announcing on the mic.
The mayhem around it all was huge… but the 1000 people in the audience (hopefully) didn't realize the chaos. To paint a picture of the commotion that was going on back backstage - as the show was in full-swing: 250 students spread out over only a few classrooms, all sorting their own costumes (but of course needing the teacher to do it for them), all in need of make-up, all as excited and nervous as can be and just as stressed as the teachers. Trying to keep them nicely contained was almost impossible, even with nearly 20 teachers to do the job. But it all worked out brilliantly.
I’ve never played such part in a show like that before. And to be honest, there were times when I thought all the work I’d put in over 2 months, was going to be in aid of very little… especially when last minute things didn’t fall into place easily and the audience of nearly 1000 people were sitting in their seats eagerly waiting for the curtains to rise and for their own little child to appear being the brightest little star of the school. Hummm… is it any wonder I was quite stressed at times and that when the stage manager would shout the question: ‘Niamh, is your act ready to go’, the only thing I could reply was ‘no’… (which had to be a ‘yes’… whether they my little stars were ready or not). Needless to say, my first 3 acts stressed me out to the max, and what made it worse was that I was participating too. This only meant I had more work. But things happened and it appeared all so smoothly to the audience… in the end, that’s what it’s all about.