It was hard to recognise her from her pouted lips and insolent comportment. She was not nude as she is famously shown in her statue.
She was wearing shalwar kameez and a vivaciously-coloured ajrak duly covering all of her body, but I held my breath when she suddenly removed the ajrak and made a no-holds-barred move. She pulled up the sleeve of her kameez and showed me the bangles she wore all the way up her left arm.
“No more proof, please,” I held her self-assured hands that were adamant to show me the rest of her features I was already acquainted with.
“I can’t believe, you came here again,” I was huffed.
She smiled. Her bangles jingled. Her brooding eyes twinkled. I knew she was the Dancing Girl of Moenjodaro. I wondered what drove her to resurface after staying thousands of years in the void. And, why again in the place where even her statue did not find a place.
“I am here to dance, one last time,” she said covering her body again with the layers of clothes she was visibly not comfortable with.
I cast a glance at her. It was the perfect setting to see her there. We were in the middle of the fascinating ruins with the stupa in the backdrop. The great bath was not far away from the assembly building where she was gazing intensely.
The ruins were in the propinquity of the wooden structure the labourers had almost placed to build a giant arena for the launch of great boogie-woogie extravaganza. I saw gloom in her eyes as she saw the stage under construction.
“You know what,” she pointed near the raised ground leading towards the stupa, “I used to dance there.”
“Our experts suppose it was an assembly building,” I said, “a space for the elite of the yore.”
”They are right,” she sighed. “Even after that stupa got built.”
I consider myself an expert on Moenjodaro who knows every element it contains on my fingertips. I knew the stupa was among the younger structures built on the ancient city by the dominant Buddhists.
The ancient city had seen many cultural changes in its life stretched over thousands of years. The Dancing Girl’s statue is reckoned as among the oldest, so how could she witness the Buddhist era. I failed to fathom her equivocation. She was an enigma as ever.
“How can you know about those thousands of years, you must have died, buried and decomposed millennia ago.”
“I know everything,” she said. “I have been dancing through those millennia inside this building.” I looked in her inexplicable figure and staggered to find that she hadn’t a figure at all.
“We lived over there,” she pointed towards a desolated region well far in the east. “The slaves lived there and their women come here to dance for the elite.”
“But, we are told that you might be a queen of your age?”
“I still am,” her lips pouted a bit further. “And never be!” She continued to be evasive.
“So you danced here for thousands of years,” I wanted to ask some more questions.
“Then why did you vanished and why?”
“I never vanished, although John Marshal who found my statue had sent it to Delhi, but I remained here.”
“Your statue is now in Kolkata, but we got back the Priest 40 years ago.”
I recalled an Indian offer for Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had been asked to choose between the Dancing Girl and the Priest, which the Indians were in possession of. Bhutto chose the Priest for it had little element to get his religious adversaries provocative.
“People here no longer want to see my statue, yet I am still here,” she smiled. I kept gazing at her.
“I can’t dance for centuries,” she whispered. “Will they allow me to dance?” she looked at the wooden stage.
I held her hand and asked her to go outside her sanctuary.
“Go outside,” I felt a lump in my throat. “You will find people everywhere who are eager to degrade you on the streets and make you dance inside their havelis."