When I was a kid, I liked to play with colorful balls. I liked it when my dad used to throw me a orangle color ball and say 'Catch it' and I got hold of it. Sometimes, with a single hand. When my dad was not around, I used to throw the ball high up in the air and would run, guessing its trajectory and a smile would run over my face when the ball would land in my outstreched palms. Then I started with two balls at a time. It was so delighful juggling both the balls at a time with one hand. Then, I moved to three balls a time. I was really skillful. When I grew up slightly, I used to entertain the little children of the colony with my '3 ball play'. When some guests came into our house, my dad used proudly used to say,'he can juggles 5 balls at a time'. When I frowned, he said,'We do not have 5 balls now, but he can show his skill with 3 balls for sure!'.
I soon realized, it was the only thing I was good at. Juggling was my love. But thinking of a profession in juggling was craziness. There was no profession. I finished my schooling but nothing good came out of it. Switching to different subjects in a day was not the same as throwing and catching multiple balls at a time. I tried to set up shows on some of the busy corners of the city, away from home, to raise some money. But those were already occupied with street side magicians, road plays, musicians. I could only hear the people clapping and coins clanking once the show was over. Who wanted to see a kid playing with 3 colorful balls?
I had to move up the ladder. I had to develop my game. Playing with balls was kids stuff. I started with rings. It was not so difficult, but yeah, took me a lot of practice to get perfect with rings. Sticks, torches followed. Torches were heavy. And tricky. They could hurt if the timing of making contact was not perfect.It took me some months to master the torches. I picked out a corner on a nearby lake where there was considerable crowd on weekends, particularly when the sun was out. In the beginning it was difficult. The public used to think, I was an intruder. But the small kids really loved it. I had found my space. My corner. Kids were accompanied with their mothers, grand mothers. They used to clap when the rings used to fly high up in the air and seamlessly landing in my arms. It was so exhilarating. But the monetary returns were not enough. Few kind souls rewarded. But, a few good words here and there used to lift my spirits.
Sometimes, it gets lonely in the lake side. I picked a little puppy from the roadside and soon we were companions. Whatever, I could make, it was enough for us. He was the mute approver of all my antics - great and stupid.He saw me develop my skill further. I wanted some Man stuff going. I started practicing with knives. Very dangerous. I got cut twice on the left hand. I almost got the puppy hurt as well. I could not continue with knives and so I tried with fire-torches. They were dangerous as well, but were more manageable than the knives. When I performed with fire-torches for the first time, after months of practice, I noticed quite a few people clapping with their hearts out. I had a truly outstanding evening.
But, Yeah..when I am performing Juggling on the road side or lake side, I am not begging. And I really hate it, when some one thinks otherwise. I am not a juggler by circumstances. I am a juggler by choice. I like what I do. I am good at what I do. I know, not everybody can say both these things about themselves. I am proud of my skill. I risk getting hurt atleast 10 times a day while performing my juggling antics with fire-torches. But, I do it. Day in and Day out. Sure, it does not pay as much as some blue collar jobs. And women are far from impressed upon hearing what I do for living. But, I have my lucky days. I am happy. My puppy is happy.
I am waiting for the weather to clear up so that I can go to my corner and perform for the kids and adults, who know I will be there. With balls and rings in one bag and sticks and torches in another. With a cute puppy sitting in shade and observing everything. With my hat turned upside down resting a few meters ahead of me. Risking myself once again.
I am a juggler.