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by Shrutidhora P. Mohor

The best lines will be yours, I promise. I push myself back to blend with the backdrop curtain. One step at a time, the movement of a potential prey in the face of a protean predator. I shift my feet as a cat does, its paw pad sinking in to the ground below, leaving no mark, creating no noise. I move back. It’s a space which sucks me in. My limbs coil and retreat into its misty-smelling folds, ripping through cobwebs and breaking shells of larvae stuck on crispy crepes of discarded stick-on chits stitched to the curtain. The lightsmen are prompt. They put glittery filters down the front surface of the wide, gaping lights, driving one in, just as an eye specialist tries out which lens suits you the best. The stage is a blinding arena of action. All eyes are on the stage. There is life, there is litter, there is a litany of words hurled across the wings, over the prompts, on the floor microphones. There is a flowing robe under one light, a raised finger, long, narrow, crooked. I cringe at it from the far back. No one notices me. Enters a drummer. His beats drive me deaf. I shut my ears and roll over the ground at the back. Darkness clings to me. I am a child of the dark. No lightsman chooses to aim his gun at me. I remain undercover, unseen, unknown. The stage has come to life. It’s time for the story to progress. I pretend to search for my words in my mouth. My mouth is dry, stuffed with burning sand. No word comes out. I can sense the prompter behind the wings. He is impatient. It’s time for a crucial dialogue. He tries to lock his gaze with mine. His hands hold the script. A stunted red pencil is peeping out from his fingers. The script is underlined all over. His eyes are impatient, annoyed. I ignore him. You are under the arc-lights. The stage is on fire. You have never cared much for the prompter. You flick away the red pencil. It falls with an unheard bump on the stage floor. The best lines are yours.

There are forces/ people which/ who bring us to the centre of the stage in life. All of life is a shifting stage and some of us are keen on never leaving the fulcrum of the script to others. We shine because someone else lets us move ahead. We sparkle because someone else hides in the dark behind us. Sacrifices are intangible and countless. They make us who we are---the lead actors on the stage which has been set up for us.

- Shrutidhora P. Mohor


About the writer:

Shrutidhora P. Mohor is a writer whose piece, Centrestage, features in Erato's second issue, Sacrifice


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