By Abinaya Rangarajan
It was 13 days before that we decided to have the Community Action Day (CAD) on 13th March. At that time, it was only the date which was decided and nothing else. Later we started deciding on having the plays. The first day we met Jaba Gee, the school teacher, her told us about the history of Umardha. It was a terrifying horror story. We then decided to enact that as a play. We took his help in writing the story and then Ruairí translated that into a script. While we had one hilarious and terrifying play on the history of Umardha, we also wanted to show how the future of Umardha would be too. So the script man Ruairí wrote another script based on the present situation in Umardha and our imagination of how we want the future of Umardha to be. Now we have 2 scripts in hand and we wanted to decide the cast for these plays.
While we started having regular sessions of interaction with school kids, we decided to do the future paly with the enthusiastic little bombs. On interacting with the teachers, we found out that the kids had never performed a play before. We took this opportunity as a challenge to bring their talents and develop their confidence. Soon I tried translating the script into Hindi, which helped us to communicate with the kids and enact the paly. Ubaid and I, the 2 official Hindi speakers, started having practice sessions with the kids in the school, whereas the other members of the team, Anna and Nicole supported us with handling the kids. At first it was a great task for me to explain to the kids who were of 2nd to 5th standard because it was so difficult to grab their attention. Ubaid and I had a hard time in executing the play. As time passed, we somehow succeeded in bringing the play to a shape. Of course there was a lot of frustration anger and sometimes even breathlessness during the process. But I took it as a challenge and learned a lot from the kids.
On the other side, we had a group of youngsters who were ready to enact a play on the history of Umardha. I thought that would not take as long as it did for the kids play, but questioning my abilities to take up the challenge that came to me as aother huge one. Even though during the process of stage directing, I had many more enotionally unstable moments, I emerged out as strong as I could. The youth made me realise that everyone is still a kid, immaterial of their age. The practice sessions started a week before the CAD and were going really well; it was then that Ubaid fell sick and was attacked by jaundice. It was one day before our CAD, when he got his test results and decided to leave the programme. Here we go, another heartbreak to the team, right before our big day. I was shattered into pieces as I felt that we had built a nice relationship as friends and also shared a good working chemistry. But considering his health condition in mind, we all gave him a farewell before the day of our CAD.
Thinking about the logistics, which plays an important part in any event, we had the Serpanch who told us that she would help us with a tent and a mike, but failed to do soin the last minute. Synergy Sansthan gave us a hand in arranging them, and I would like to thank Mr Rakesh for getting things done. The day arrived we had the whole ICS team in Umardha, who helped us in the last leg of mobilisation. We also had our PC Miss Astha, who helped us actively throughout the programme, engaging with the kids and people.
We were supposed to start the programme with a speech by the Serpanch, who again failed miserably to arrive and did not have the courtesy to attend my calls. Forgetting the disaster which had happened the day before, we started with a dance performance by 3 girls on a Hindi song. Then we had the lights out, which disturbed the crowd and the beehive on the tree, which led to a bee sting on my chin. I took the role of MC and stage direction, and as expected I did not have time to breath because I just wanted the event to happen. So after the electricity came back we stage the plays successfully. I was really happy to see people responding for the play, as it was a huge positive sign and motivated the community and the cast.
We also had the fantastic Gangaur-Mandal team perform for us. A huge round of thank you to them, they helped regain the crowd after the power cut. They also surprised every one of us with their scintillating performance, especially the unknown about dancing. We wanted to see more, but die to time constraints we had to move on with other performances. Ajay gave a motivational speech on women’s empowerment and encouraged every single person in the crowd. We started the programme at around 7pm and ended at around 9.30pm. At the end of the day everybody congratulated us for successfully completing a CAD, as ours was the first team to attempt one. I felt happy to see people enjoying the event and expressing their happiness. Our sign up charts for different groups were full and also there were lots of wishes hanging around the tree. This showed that the village actually participated in the whole event. At the end, while thanking everybody who had helped us with the event we also missed Ubaid who had played a huge part in the rehearsals. One of my biggest learnings from the CAD is that success lies in the event happening and not in how successfully it happened. It was a great day for team Umardha.