A Fairy Tale Love

We're at the circus. I can see through the horse legs, the stables, the lifted tent cloth. We're standing somewhere near the ticket counter. I'm attached to my dad's trousers like a paper clip.

At my height I can only see legs, human and horse. A signboard, in a richly painted blue and red crescent, says Gemini Circus. I'm semi-literate so I can only read the vowels. Syllables, sometimes. But this one I know. Ger-mini Circus. I can't wait to get inside. The tickets are a bad idea.

"How much longer, Pa?"
"We're getting there, son."
"But when?"
"Okay, tell me how many horses are there behind the tent?"
"Can I go inside and count?"
"No… but see… count… the legs… Four please… count the legs."
"What about me, Pa?"
"You will sit on my lap."
"But I want my own seat… Or else I am going to go from here."
"Okay… one more please."

We're inside now. It's dark for broad daylight. There's a hole in the tent at the top. From it are hanging ropes: some metal, some jute. Straight ahead of us is the band box. From it are glistening brass wind instruments, a set of huge star-dusted drums, electric guitars and players in gold suits.

The cymbals clash. Dhissssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

The grape coloured curtains part. Two jokers appear. One is my height, another's on stilts. The one on stilts thwacks the one below with one of his stilts.


The crowds claps.

The show begins. The curtains part again. And the world's most beautiful girl appears. She's with a man, taller, much taller than her. She cartwheels from there towards the centre. She stops right below the hole and the ropes start descending towards her.

The man suddenly appears behind her and lifts her like a fallen fruit. He puts her back on the tree. And she with her mouth bites into the rope.

The rope suddenly gets a life of its own.

She starts spinning. A flower. Frilly cape, hair, ballerina skirt all aflutter, hands behind her back, legs stretched straight, and head going round and round and round.

My head's heavy. With love and star-shaped eyes. For the first time.

"Pa, is she a fairy?"
"Hahaha… she could be… she could be…"
"Pa, can we take her home?"
"Hmmm… this is her home… you know."
"Can I work in the circus, then?"
"What will happen to school?"
"But I don't like school that much."
"Watch, she's coming down."

The fairy comes down. Slowly. Delicately. Hanging from the rope, like a puppet. I am mesmerised. Back on the ground, she skitters around the centre, comes back below the hole. Takes a bow and runs back, inside the grape coloured curtains.

My hopes are crushed.

"Will she come back, Pa?"
"We'll see… keep watching."
"No but please… tell me."
"Shhh… "
"Pa, ple-e-e-e-e-se s-a-a-a-a-ay no… Please say no… Will she come back?"

The fairy comes back. Changed into a blue ballerina costume. She takes a round. Waving to the crowd. Her skin is now paler against the blue. Her face is shining with rouge sweat drops. She's the most gorgeous, most naked girl I've ever seen without having to look up or away.

She's now taking these magic leaps from the centre spot. Dancing on a moon shape that's following her every step. The band is playing something loud and garrulous. But she has her own music. She's dancing with her moon. Dancing as if there is just her and the moon. And no one else. And then she starts flying. Hovering above the moon, just like fairy.

I am entranced. Bound and gagged in love. The show ends much later. But for me it ends with the fairy's flying away.

"What happened to you, Dhiju?"
"I think I am not well."
"You were fine till some time ago…"
"Pa, I think I should join the circus."
"What will you do there?"
"I… will… I will… hold her up, Pa."
"Hahaha… for that you'll have to grow up, no Dhiju? Do you want to eat something?"
"No? That's surprising… not even a softy?"
"Okay. But Pa, first I want to do susu."
"We'll go in the interval."
"But I want to go now."
"Phew… go with your bhai."
"No. You come. He will lose me."
"Hahaha… Lose you? How?"
"Pa, please come."

We're out in the broad rude daylight. It's like the end of a dream. It's deserted. Except for the horse legs seen from the lifted tent cloth. I am standing near the ticket booth. My father's waiting in the toilet queue. I am waiting near the lifted tent cloth. Waiting to catch a glimpse of the fairy. Suddenly a huge snorting horse face appears at the opening. I'm startled. Pushed back a few steps. But still waiting.


  1. Fellini would have been happy reading this post!

    Do they still have circuses in India?

  2. That's so strange but my daughter was convinced the ladies riding the horses at the first circus we took her to were fairies. I so enjoyed watching her enraptured and convinced that only magic could produce apparently flying tiny ladies in spangley fairy costumes

  3. Hey KM how do you know a Fellini-in-the-making didn't write it?!? ;-)

    Sadly, thanks to Mrs Gandhi (the other one) circuses are banned in India.

    Yeah Sue, I remember seeing a local TV star at a barber shop once and I go: "But how did you come out?"

  4. i like the sound effects ... and the whole thing reminds me of the time i met Jim Morrison with my head stuck to the ground.... fairies with boots!!!! niiiiiiiiiiice!!!! I never did like a circus.... i live in one... and i don't like home..... but niiiiiice.....

  5. i've actually never been to a circus. i've always wanted to though. I didn't know they were banned here! geez, i can be pretty ignorant at times :S

    This was a fun read to say the least! almost like i was at a circus :)

  6. Two opposing views both amazingly unique: Gary lives in a circus and Blow's never been to one. Wow n thanx!

  7. Dhiju? lol. Makes me feel much better about my nick name at home :D

  8. lucky thou.

    i've never been to a circus.

  9. What is urs, Scout?

    Smittin Kitten, welcome! Now (I hope) you have an idea...

  10. Gols.
    Like the vodka gols at Punjabi by Nature.
    I was a plump kid :D

  11. That was very sweet. You write well.

    Now as for me and the circus, I've been to one but can't remember it. How's that for odd?

  12. Perfectly understandable... memory anyway's a sleeping dog

  13. very nice..enjoyed reading it..especially the part about 'bhai will lose me'..lol

  14. Dhiraj not upto ur regular std.
    nice imagery and all but bro quite boring.

  15. Very nicely done.

    Now, I have never been to a circus. I know what a loser!

    Reading you makes me want to got here but I guess now I am too old to enjoy fairies.

  16. Thanks dazedandconfused!

    Raghav, will try and live upto your standards... *#%@* ahem will deal with u later

    Thanx confused. But actually one is never too old... or maybe u shud see it the way Gary does...

  17. Interesting story Dhiraj.

    As for talkin to interspecies.. er, I talked to a boy. Does that count?

  18. U know what would have been cool ?
    if she would have slipped and fallen to a bloody, gory, painful death !!
    now that would have been a shocker of a story !!
    btw wat shift u on ?

  19. Nope it duz not, Nimbu, unless you're John Gray.

    Rags, am in disappearance mode!

  20. Ms. B u'r Scorpio instincts are bang on! Welcome and thanks!

  21. So did you get to hold up a fairy when u finally grew up :-)

    With no where to pee, my circus experience wasn't this enchanting.

  22. Yeah many times. But fairies are tricky creatures, now you have them and now you don't.

  23. I'm sorry I am so far behind in reading your blog. Of course, I just found you or found me yesterday. What a beautiful story. I have difficulty in that several readers have never been to a circus. In the US we grow up going to the circus. Enjoying the acts, animals, costumes, cotton candy, peanuts... Small circus acts perform at county fairs and large circuses come to cities once a year (For example, Barnum and Bailey, a very famous circus). It's a family event.

  24. Yeah totally. In India they were banned some years ago. So there's a generation coming up that has never been to one.

  25. Why was it banned? And how very sad to miss the smile on a child's face at the antics of the clowns, or the awe in his eyes when he watches the feats of the highwire act or the flying trapeze.


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