Mr. Pradhan! Good we met here. I was thinking of talking to you on the phone.”

Deepak Pradhan was at the mall picking up a few parcels, when he incidentally had an encounter with his son, Darsheel’s class teacher, Mrs. Asha Sanvi. Deepak’s only son Darsheel, was in eighth standard.


Deepak smiled and shook hands with her. “Hello Ms. Sanvi, what a pleasant surprise! Is there anything important you wish to discuss with me? Should I take an appointment and come to school tomorrow?”

“No need to take an appointment Mr. Pradhan, it will only take two minutes. I’ll tell you now.”

Deepak nodded his head slowly and didn’t know what to expect. Darsheel was extremely bright and focused. He was loved by all at school and till date no complaints had ever come. Asha Sanvi began, “I was quite bewildered when Darsheel didn’t enroll his name for the dance classes. We all know he loves dancing and is very competent as well.”

Deepak was taken aback. He was clueless about this. “Dance classes? Ms. Sanvi, what are you referring to?”

“Oh, didn’t Darsheel come home and tell you? Of all the students, I thought he would be the most excited one. It was announced last week and an email has also been sent by the school regarding the same.”


Otherwise a very vigilant parent, off late, Deepak had been too busy at work and hadn’t had time to look into his son’s schooling. Feeling culpable, he said gingerly, “I’m really sorry. Without giving any excuses for my slip off, I promise to look into it tonight itself.”

Darsheel’s teacher smiled and commented, “Please do. He’s lucky that the last date for enrollment is next Monday. Principal Ma’am especially wants him to be a part of this program.”


They bid their goodbyes and Deepak went home feeling totally perplexed. It wasn’t like Darsheel to not update them about what was happening at school. Dance was his life. In fact it was his favourite subject after biology.


Once he reached home, and while his wife, Devaki, set the table for dinner, Deepak sat down to read the email that had come from school.

Darsheel’s school was going to work in collaboration with a famous dance academy for one year. At the end of the duration they were to have an interschool dance competition and the levels would progress from there onwards, so much so that students could even reach the national level and also had a chance of featuring in reality shows. Prizes were in the form of scholarships.


It was a golden opportunity. Deepak was all the more baffled. Such a wonderful opening, why didn’t Darsheel tell them about it?


“After dinner, I wish to talk to both of you.” Deepak announced seriously, making both mother and son nervous.

Devaki asked gingerly, “What is it Deepak?”

“After dinner Devaki.”


It seemed like a mini conference when the trio sat down on the sofa in the living room. Deepak opened the email and showed it to Devaki, “Read this.”

Father and son sat quietly for a few minutes while Devaki went through the school notice. Her eyes sparkled with joy and a smile flickered on her lips whilst she peered up. “Wow! What an amazing opportunity.”


Deepak glanced at his son, “Darsheel, we are talking about the dance academy. Why didn’t you tell us, son?”

Before Darsheel could reply, Deepak briefed them about his unexpected meeting with Ms. Asha Sanvi at the mall. Darsheel began fidgeting in mortification, he said hesitantly, “Dad, I don’t want to participate.”

His parents exchanged a shocking glimpse, and Devaki exclaimed, “But why son? You love dancing and this chance is served to you on a platter, then why not?”


Darsheel stuttered before clarifying further, “I…it will be…..”

Deepak’s gaze was cemented on his son. He asked firmly, “Darsheel?”

“Dad, it will only distract me from my studies, dancing is not so important.”

“But son, you spend all your free time watching dance videos and learning new steps. And now that you are getting a chance, you are saying no. Moreover, it’s over the weekend.”

“And it’s also 6000/- ₹ monthly!”

As soon as these words came out, Darsheel cupped his mouth. It was a lapsus linguae (slip off the tongue). He didn’t mean to say it. He shook his head in frustration, and scurried away to his room, locking himself inside.


His parents sat dumbfounded. So this was the reason for his refusal.


Both Deepak and Devaki were working, nonetheless, they were just getting by. With the EMI of home loan on their head, every month money was cut to cut. A single extra expenditure would shake their budget and invariably become a matter of concern.


Tears welled up in the couple’s eyes, for reasons more than one. They were floored by their son’s maturity and sacrifice. Deepak rubbed his face and wiped his tears, whilst he poured his heart out. “Devaki, what sort of parents are we, if we cannot fulfill a small wish of our only son! Darsheel didn’t tell us because he knows we can’t afford it. Our son has a bigger heart than us. I’m ashamed of myself, Devaki.”


Devaki couldn’t fathom how to console her husband, when she herself was going through the same turmoil. She thought for a while and suggested cautiously, “Maybe I can start taking some tuitions or fulfill catering orders on Saturday Sunday; you know, anything to increase our income.”


Deepak shook his head. “You can do that, but it’s gonna take time, Devaki. We need cash immediately. There’s only one solution to this problem.”


Next day, Deepak had a word with his boss. He requested for a loan and vouched to work overtime, so that it wouldn’t be deducted from his salary.

Two days later, Deepak showed the fees receipt of the dance classes to his son. He had made the payment for the entire year. Darsheel’s eyes popped out in astonishment, “Dad! How did you manage this?”

Deepak grinned and patted his son’s back, “It’s only going to be a little extra work, that’s all. But you don’t have to worry about it. Okay?”

Darsheel was feeling bad, Guilt began to churn his insides. “Dad, just to fulfill my wish, you’re taking this additional burden.”

Deepak ruffled his son’s hair and stated, “Son, don’t think too much into it. I wish to give you the best in your growing up years. I don’t want you to miss this superb opportunity. Besides, if you put in effort and win, then with the scholarship prizes we’ll save a lot of money otherwise. Therefore, we are killing two birds with one stone. Got it?”


Darsheel was overjoyed and embraced his father. “Thanks a ton dad! You’re the best father in the whole world.”

Deepak hugged him back. “And you are the best son. I don’t want you to feel deprived of anything.”


~ Shamim Merchant