Thinking to pen down this experience from long time ,an experience which made me respect my life more. ”A visit to Tihar” may sound like a child starting to write an essay about visiting a museum ,initially for me also it was just another dance performance. An NGO contacted me for choreographing a dance sequence for play based on life of Inmates(name for prisoners in sophisticated language). When I was approached just like any other dancer it seemed like a chance to increase credits of my CV so better grasp it .
The journey started with getting to know what exactly play was all about .As told to us it was a play to divert attention of authorities to pending cases of women in jail no 6(single women jail in tihar) .
Me and my other 2 friends instantly started working on theme .Our work started when we visited NGO(ashram as they use to call it).With no offence to anybody it was just like any other ashram , people taking ‘gyaan‘ from babajis n leaving there homes , well without getting away from track we got our music piece n we knew what were the expectations and how to achieve it .Skipping the details of practice session coming to real day we got permission for 2 days a practice day n finale.
When our car entered the area the first thought came to my mind “Arre this is like DU campus” but that was just first thought, soon I realised high security area main jail much inside the outer jail.
A Sudden fear of entering a jail was throughout with me . As soon I saw sign of jail no 5 I knew, its time . First step of security submission of cell phones ,second entering that gate getting checked upside down(pun intended).Another interesting or rather scary part was getting stamp on hand symbolising we were visitors not prisoners oops inmates I mean . may seems funny to some but I was more concerned abot stamp “what if it gets washed away”? “Will I get stucked inside”? Will they understand my point” “oh no!”….ouchhhh… come lets go , misha shouted at me(“yeah bak to reality).Okie now like a new bride Shy n feared I entered “that” place .Bunch of NGO| people guiding us throughout .first thing I saw was place from where inmates could talk to outsiders once a week. This was similar to the filmy scenes so I was relieved atleast bollywood is somewhere realistic . The inside view was quite different from what I expected All the inmates roaming around , feared soul in me exclaimed aren’t the suppose to be tied in shackles n all I mean ….
There was sudden change in air which told us it was jail . A strange pungent smell, okay it was stinking a bit ,but inmates were so normal so bloody normal just like are household helpers . Soon fear was taken over by anxiety to start work .
There wasn’t much of introduction session with inmates but through our work we could judge some of them were great actors, full of emotions , hardworking. We were
Practicing in large hall which was adjoining high security cell or in simpler terms small rooms to keep violent prisoners but yes in women jail there r hardly any cases so it was used to store stocks etc . There are 2 canteens in jail Dry to sell washing powder etc and wet to sell eatables. Before we could assume that it was like college canteen we were told are money wont work there you need to have coupon like money which is used in jail. Coming bak to rehearsals we actually started enjoying with inmates that is when I realized meaning of In-mates. Inmates in cases of dowry , murder , drugs were my friends actual friends . My conscience couldn’t believe they could do something like dat come on dey were so much fun! Throughout the day my mind was thinking bout it when clock stuck 4 n it was time for me to go , for them to get bak to der cells . Due to some conveyance problem we were supposed to get bak through auto but guess wat no auto was ready to stop in front of jail. Then I realized even one day yes evn one day can change how people perceive you if you belong to that place . Now I was in inmates shoes and others in my place assuming me to be a culprit .
It would be cliché if I would say all of dem living in jail are innocent but it was just one weak moment which changed der life converting dem from just mates to Inmates.
Second day was a new much happening day, the Final performance day .Special food as dey presumed it or “just kadhi” as we look at it was talk of the town . An inmate rushed towards me and sai “Di Aaj jaldi jaane dena kadhi nahi milegi warna” .All I could do was to smile . Even lunch for us was grand each inmate putting an extra effort to impress us rather make us feel welcomed .I Enjoyed the food n the treatment, Any normal person would say “You ate at jail”?? but my thought was “Wow I ate kadhi”.
After food was done we started getting dressed though we were being dressed up by professional but mates kept no stone unturned to make us feel comfortable . As soon I stepped on stage I knew I was one of them and adrenalin rush was real enough to make me emotional . After the performance which thankfully was admired by authorities we had photographs session which made us stars . I really didn’t know when day came to an end rather I knew but somehow I never expected it to end like dat . Time to leave, to bid goodbye to all inmates crying n watching us leave , hard to accept but yeah even we got bit emotional .
While I was leaving the place , Stamp got washed away just a light imprint on hand and I instantly got pale .Yes no matter how wonderful experience it was , no matter how gud friend I made I knew people change , time change , life change once u belong to that place . Courtesy NGO I came out of place got bak my normal life much simpler busy life but still stays in my heart faded memory of that day that “lucky” day.