Reema and Seema, though twins, were poles apart; they only had a facial resemblance. When they were 12, their mother had approached a renowned Classical Dance Guru to teach her girls. The Guru knew almost instantly that Seema was destined to be a dancer. She was fleet-footed, expressive and flexible. Reema was quite the opposite. During dance sessions Reema just went through the paces, yawning regularly, much to the chagrin of the kind Guru. She would always miss her steps and inevitably fall. The other students would laugh merrily at her comical dance movements. Though Seema defended her sister, everyone knew that there would just be one dancer in the family. Reema finally quit dance and never came to the class again. The girls enrolled themselves for shooting classes in the evening at the City’s sports complex. Reema began to excel in Pistol Shooting. Her coach, an Olympian who had missed a Commonwealth Games medal by a whisker during his shooting days, was pleased with Reema’s performance. Seema decided that Shooting was not her cup of tea – she seemed unable to reconcile with the very idea of Shooting. Reema’s coach dreamt of making her a champion shooter, who would win the medal that had eluded him. The dance Guru wished to make Seema a dancer who would win much praise and acclaim. Both the girls began to live their own dream worlds.
Years passed. Seema and Reema were now eighteen years of age, still attempting to carve a place for themselves in their chosen fields. Seema had already performed on stage a number of times and was already touted as the successor of the renowned Guru. She had succeeded in not only living up to his expectations, but her accomplishments - after a fairly short period of training – had left many in her field awestruck. Her sister Reema had already qualified for the National Games the previous year, having won Gold medals in the State Championships, and was progressing well towards winning a National Games medal. And she did walk away with the Gold medal in her event, beating her nearest rival convincingly. When the names for the individual shooters for the Commonwealth Games were announced, it was hardly a surprise that her name figured on top of the list. But there was another strange yet beautiful coincidence. Seema was selected by the Ministry of Culture to choreograph a dance show for the Opening Ceremony of the Games. It was a rare honour for the eighteen-year-old. Her Guru was speechless. He had already passed on the mantle to his worthy successor. Reema’s coach, on the other hand, was keeping his fingers crossed, for he did not know if the mercurial Reema would be able to lay her hands on the elusive medal that he had not managed to win.
The day of reckoning arrived. The Commonwealth Games opened with much fun and fare. The breathtaking Opening Ceremony was attended by a host of dignitaries and sportspersons. Seema’s choreographic routine was the highlight of the show. As laser beams criss-crossed the stage, the performance of Seema and her team of dancers stood out; their synchronisation was perfect. The prolonged blinding flashes announced the arrival of one of India’s most promising dancers. The country needed a shot in the arm, and Seema provided that. An international delegate, after watching Seema and her group majestically dancing on stage, remarked, “The Indians may have their problems, but they know how to put up a dance show. These petite Indian dancers seem to fly in the air.” Reema marched with the Indian contingent of athletes and waved to her sister, who was by then sitting among the audience (after her breathtaking show). Seema blew a kiss of luck towards her. The first sports event of the Games was Shooting. Reema drew a blank on the first two attempts, and was on the verge of elimination. She took a deep breath even as she saw her sister waving at her. She told herself that she could not betray the trust of her sibling. She looked at the target and fired instantly. Her shot pierced the centre of the concentric circles. “It’s a Bulls-eye!” exclaimed Seema. The next two shots also hit dead centre. Reema was back in contention for a medal. The final shot would decide the winner of the first medal of the Commonwealth Games. Reema took aim and shot. She missed the Gold medal by a whisker (to her Australian counterpart). Her Silver was the first medal for India in the Commonwealth Games. The Coach could not control his tears. Reema had fulfilled his dream - the elusive Commonwealth Games shooting medal had been won by his protégée. He felt a firm hand on his back. The Dance Guru was congratulating him. The two girls had made both of them proud. Later, after the girls had retired to their rooms and were resting, Reema was woken up by an excited Seema. A news channel was showing Reema aiming at her target and a swirling Seema performing her dance routine. The Headline read: ‘Dancing and Shooting at the Games - India strikes’. The Guru and the Coach soon joined them. The Coach remarked solemnly, “Thank you Guruji, for not teaching Reema to dance”. The Guru retorted in kind, “I should thank you. You created my beautiful dancer, Seema”. The girls looked sternly at them both, but could not stifle their laughter for long.
The writer is a renowned Kuchipudi danseuse and choreographer