Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The paper bag at the fancy dress competition

-Brian Mendonça

A fancy dress competition in school, usually gets the parents, not the kids, into a tizzy. So when the dreaded announcement was made in Dwayne’s school we were sent into a spin.

What do we send him as?! Agreed that he is all of 4 years and at that age you can usually carry it off in style. No more hackneyed elephants for him, as someone had helpfully suggested, a hired costume of which was readily available at Luis stores.

It had to be something out of the box.  We had once watched a kid dress up as a paper bag for a fancy dress show at Nuvem. This was in keeping with our policy where we eschew plastic. So Dwayne was put through his routines and began to parrot his lines:
I am a paper bag.
Use me.
Do not use plastic.
They spoil our environment.
Thank  you.

After the lines were rehearsed we needed to make him look like a paper bag. The night before the competition saw us examining the huge Bata paper bags they put their customers’ shoes in. We had stapled together a number of newspapers to make it look like a packet through which we put Dwayne. But how to hold it up? The bottom of the paper bag quite foxed us, and without the fold, Dwayne was looking more like a Roman guard with pleats.

At our wits end and with time running out Queenie jubilantly produced a readymade paper bag with two rope-like handles. The handles just about went round Dwayne’s neck. I preferred a bag made out of newspapers, but with the paraphernalia in peril of falling to the floor in mid-sentence, the option was hastily discarded.

What made us most happy was that on the day of the competition, Dwayne said his lines confidently. He didn’t do any actions and quite forgot the last minute tutoring of the line, ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle.’  Many parents had gone to great lengths to dress their children up, but were dismayed when they simply refused to come on stage. Others were dressed exquisitely but did not open their mouths.

The fancy dress competition was for the pre-primary children, viz. the Lower Kindergarten and the Upper Kindergarten. A total of 120 students ‘performed’ that day. As Dwayne was telling me, ‘Reza dressed as a gift box, Garima became a guitar, Zara became Gandhiji. Keean, that big fellow, was becoming a pilot but he didn’t come. Zoya was becoming grapes. Sidaksh was a kangaroo. Jaris sang ‘Kai borem bande vajta.’  Queenie said there was also a little chef who taught the audience to make fruit salad.  His parents had brought along for him a table and the various kitchen items!

A little child’s world is a world of make believe. They readily mimic the roles they play. So happy are they with their little pleasures, and the moment it is over they forget the experience least bothered about the outcome.
Pix courtesy Tinkerlab. Published in the weekly feature, 'On My Mind' in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 15 November 2015.

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