I had always dreamed about performing on stage. Both my parents were trained classical singers who continued their singing as a hobby while they juggled their career and family commitments. Their duets from famous Bollywood numbers were frequently requested at family events and neighbourhood social gatherings. Religious events were also occasions when their presence was requested.
When I was born, everyone naturally assumed that I had inherited their talent. They were right. I was also extremely shy. Something everyone around me assumed that I would grow out of. Boy! Were they wrong! I started singing classes as soon as I could string sentences together. And it was fun! I enjoyed singing. I enjoyed my classes. I enjoyed my teacher’s praises. I enjoyed my fellow- students’ looks of envy.
What I didn’t enjoy was performing in front of others. Singing in front of an audience was my biggest nightmare. Everything would go black, my head would spin, I’d see stars and my stomach would turn somersaults with the bitter taste of acidity creeping up my throat, usually resulting in spectacular projectiles of my stomach’s contents right into the front row of the audience.
As a child I got away by hiding behind mum or dad’s legs. But as I grew up, it became increasingly difficult to hide there. My parents were worried and my teachers were dismayed. Finally, an understanding school counsellor stepped in. She helped me overcome my stage fright. Slowly my acidity and nausea before performances also disappeared. I was finally able to perform without feeling the world was collapsing around my eyes. The highlight of my life? Performing with my parents at my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.