Dancing on Lakshmi Road: Moving Forward

Danielle Campbell - India


April 16, 2020

Disclaimer:
If you would rather listen to me read, here is my YouTube link to my edited
audio: 


https://youtu.be/7z9CgeZ0HO4



“I
saw you guys.”

The second she said those words I
could feel the rocks hit the belly of my stomach. 

 

Oh boy.

 

My agi Vijaya loved to playfully
taunt me. Her jokes bared fruit the livelihood of the house, from her constant
rebellion to her bustling charm and comments.

 

Was I expecting her statement? Not in
the very least.

 

It was my last day in India and my
beautiful friends, Lily and Celia barged into my room at 7 am. The purpose – to
watch our final sunrise together.
The attempt failed as I overslept but
in the 3 hrs. we had left together, we wanted to relinquish the morning by
walking on my street one last time. 

 

Dancing
on Lakshmi road.

 

Kal Ho ha No “Disco Dancer” blasting
on the speaker, our crazy dance moves in hand.

 

The scene featured three girls living
what they had left at the moment. There wasn’t a lot of cars, but we were
dancing in public as vehicles passed by, shaking and shimming adjacent to my
favorite samosa stand in pride. We were there in body, mind, and spirit. The
way Pune engulfed us with love for six months, from the relationships we had
made, and the sights are seen, the ladies filled my last moments of the city
with the core feeling of gratitude. Aisha, my samosa vendor lady gently smiles
at us, and although she had a mask on her face, the squint in her eye told us
enough. 

 

We would later walk through the park
as Prince Royce’s, “Stand by me” blissfully made noise in the background; we
relinquished the
facade in silence. We knew that nothing would ever be the
same, but it was an acknowledgment that we at least had time to accept.

 

It
has now been almost 4 weeks since I’ve left India due to the COVID-19 crisis
and I don’t know if I am processing my emotions right, but I also know that the
whole world is going through the same thing, something the likes of have never
seen before in the 21st century – an international virus and what comes along
with it.

 

A giant pause.

 

 

Some of us reminisce about the “old
days” on social media, but others don’t know when their next meals are yet to
come. The very essence of this virus has agitated the very core of countries,
the re-appearance of inequalities coming to the forefront of nations who would
rather ignore what some may call discrepancies of a society. The poor,
lower-income families in crowded societies baring the worse of it all. 

 

“How did we get
here?” is a common question I see on the news with commentators speaking about
the national crisis at hand, but its something we know capitalism was not built
for as it demands the establishment to keep working at all costs. It sews the
very seed of inequity which is not the fault of the virus.

People are putting their lives on pause as every
moment is laced with uncertainty. The loss of jobs, the loss of sentimental
moments like prom or graduations- the question of when this is going to end is
one for the future.

People are anxious and if they have the privilege
of staying home, the people are. Essential workers are at the forefronts, but
many are anxious to be there. Many are minorities who may not have health
insurance but are working a low minimum wage each hour being told that they are
important- but what is it to show for.

 

“What
have we gained for the time being,” is a thought my days are now enticed with.

 

We’re
living history right now, but how can we learn from it.                                                                                                               

 

I like to think back to the moment on Lakshmi road,
living for the moment but in time unsure of what was next.

I had to keep dancing, if not for me, someone else.

Now I face a new but same normal, re-adjusting to
my home, no longer being in the bustling streets of Pune. Everyone is facing a
new normal, seeing something different, or facing the challenges they already
knew like their next-door neighbor.

 

“Good Dancing,” Vijaya would say after she finished
teasing me.

Danielle Campbell