The Red Frock
Shail Desai, a freelance journalist based in Bombay, was with us at Janwaar Castle for a few days and he has written a beautiful story about it. Now he followed up with an even more beautiful portrait of one of our youngsters, Ballou.
Balloo sat in one corner of the skatepark and watched the boys show off their tricks. These were times when the golden rule, ‘Girls first!’ was forgotten, as the thrill of play was too much of a temptation to resist at the skatepark.
A stern voice from the corner ordered the boys to give back the skateboards assigned to the girls. It was Balloo’s cue to get down to business.
She picked up her oversized helmet and tried strapping it on, and with some help from one of the bigger girls, it finally fell in place. She gingerly walked over to an abandoned skateboard, picked it up, and walked towards the edge of the skatepark. She pushed the helmet up, even as it dropped back down and covered her eyes.
One foot on the board, a little push and the other foot was on. It was almost as if the wind was doing its bit to get her attempt underway, or at least her puffy, red frock made it look so. She was geared up in tights and blue and green ankle-length shoes to match, and looked most comfortable on the skateboard, against all odds. This was an art, Balloo was still getting used to after all.
It was perhaps the slowest skateboard around the park, but this girl was cruising! The arms were out and the eyes were focussed under the helmet, that dropped down for the umpteenth time. Her frock soon transformed into a sail with the wind in it – the direction hardly mattered with focus like that, and she rolled on where the momentum would take her.
Balloo’s face was lost in the moment, and nothing could end her joy at this point, until of course, the wheels stopped rolling. She waited until the skateboard came to a complete halt and jumped off, pushing the helmet up. Under it was a smile, after realising what she had just achieved – it had the power to light up your day.
She picked up the board, and walked back to the starting point – it was time to hit cruise control yet again.