Today, we drive to the Sea Wall with Minal’s cousin to attend her classical Indian dance class taught by dancer-performer Sheema Kirmani, who also runs a theater group called Tehrik-e-Niswan. As we park the car, our attention is drawn to a lamb tied to a bush, and a goat standing on its hind legs to reach for some leaves.
While Maha runs inside Sheema’s home to be on time for class, Minal wanders over to the animals and makes some friends. After a while, we enter the house and make our way into the open space, where Sheema sits on the concrete floor and calls directions to the girls. Minal, inspired by the movement, stands behind her cousin and embraces her legs. Then, she darts into the hallway, and through the mirrored wall, I see her lifting her arms and twirling, resisting Sheema’s calls to her to join the class.
As I watch the girls, I am reminded of dancing classes my sister and I used to attend with the Ghanshyams and how, once Zia came to power, they like many religious minorities as well as artists, packed their belongings and left the country.