- A middle aged man has a secret desire to be the star student of his daughter’s ballet class and then perform solo.
Quentin Dash was an ordinary man. He was about fifty-four years old, heavily balding, quite a bit over- weight and a father of an eight year old girl called Mili. He was terribly correct and precise when he did anything, was never in a hurry and didn’t entertain ideas of contemporary times. He lived and believed of an older generation. His shirts never creased, whatever little hair he had never had a strand out of his place and he usually wore pastel colours.
Such was Quentin Dash.
His daughter Mili, on the other hand, was a different ball game altogether. Like most eight year olds, her energy was boundless and she wanted to do everything possible in the span of twenty four hours, everyday. Nothing tired her and nothing bored her. Dirt never wore off her knee caps or her toes, her socks always had potato heels and her dresses were perpetually filthy. She was interested in everything: football, playing the guitar, rolling around in muck; the usual activities of a child. However, her most favourite thing in the world was her twice-weekly ballet lesson which she religiously trotted off to every Wednesday and Saturday. Mili had short cropped hair (“You will be able to take care of it yourself then, Mili” her father had said at the barbers’), big green eyes and a most wicked sideways smile.
Father and daughter went about their lives quite independently most of the time and in the evenings they would talk about their day. Soon Mili would be put to bed after a mug of hot chocolate and her father would go back to reading his terribly heavy book on some mundane subject or the other, like many fathers do.
What Mili didn’t know, or no one else for that matter, was that her father had a secret desire. A very secret desire. It was so secret that if anyone ever found out he thought he would go into hiding and never be found again. This desire was to be a world famous ballet dancer. This may sound strange to you and me, but it was even more strange to Mr Dash. Whoever heard of a male ballet dancer?! Yes, these days anyone could do anything they wanted and earn millions if they so pleased but not Mr Dash. He was a respected professor of Geology in the state university and that is where he felt most comfortable. His desire of wanting to be a ballet dancer made him uncomfortable. He didn’t understand it. He didn’t want to understand it. But every night after he had done his reading and placed his spectacles neatly folded up on the side table and switched off his bedside lamp, he would dream of gracefully sailing through the air in a tutu and impressing the life out of a thousand (no less) or so people who were enthralled by him. His audience would give him a standing ovation after each performance, and he would bow politely and leave the stage having done a brilliant show yet again.
He would try and shut his dream away but it would come back and take over his thoughts, again and again.
Mr Dash had had this dream for more than twenty years. His wife was not interested in these so called arty things so they never went for a performance or even watched their little girl during her ballet lessons. After Mrs Dash passed away when Mili was three years old, he had no excuse whatsoever to go near a theatre.
One day when Mili had gone to spend the night at a friend’s, Mr Dash decided to take action with this dream of his. He had come to the conclusion that if he couldn’t get over it, he should indulge in it. He started by shifting the furniture to resemble a hall. The sofas and chairs were put to one side, one behind the other as well as all the little tables and pouffes. He had been careful to draw all the curtains and keep the lights dim in case the neighbours peeped in. Next, he went to Mili’s room and rummaged around and finally found her pink tent that she took on camping trips. He cut it up and stapled it together after having worn it to resemble a tutu. He felt the skirt part looked too long so he chopped more off. It was now a sleeveless little piece of plastic which would look utterly ridiculous to someone who was passing by, but to Mr Dash it looked pretty good for someone who had never done something like this before. He then slipped into his daughter’s ballet shoes, cut them from behind and tied the ribbons on his calves. He was already feeling like a star who was getting ready for a performance. His audience was waiting for the curtains to open. He could feel their breaths held and them sitting on the edge of their seats.
The time to enter the stage had come.
The lights became brighter and brighter as he walked across the stage and bowed gently to the teeming populace in front of him. The clapping made him smile a little but he couldn’t show it too much, he was a very senior dancer you see. And he started. He was dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, his favourite. As the performance went on and on, he felt more at ease with the pink tent and too small shoes and truly believed he was performing. It carried on for more than four hours (on repeat) and the clapping just would not stop. After the performance, more than a hundred people came backstage to congratulate him and give him all sorts of flowers and presents. He was tired but utterly satisfied.
When Mili opened the door at seven the next morning, she saw the living room had been transformed. She had never seen it any other way but the way it was organized when her mother was alive and now it was completely topsy turvy. The chairs and sofas were on one side, the carpet was rolled up and in one corner of the room lay her father. He was wearing her pink tent and ballet shoes, snoring gently under the dining table.