Falling out of rhythm

How I started dancing for my younger self


Sreya Kumar

Balancing myself on the edge of a stool, I tried to stay still and keep my eyes wide open as my mom applied liquid eyeliner on my lower lash line. The liquid was thick and sticky and felt foreign on my skin. Layers of powder pressed uncomfortably on my skin and my hair was rigidly pulled into a tight bun. Everything felt wrong for my 8-year-old body.

I changed into my outfit for the night, a traditional creamy white costume. When I first received it, I thought it was a beautiful thing, something only one of the best dancers would wear. It was starchy and smelled of old saris. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a different girl staring back at me. The girl in the mirror was perfect — she wore beautiful clothes, looked pretty and she was a dancer.