Photo Essay: A Queer Dance

Something went wrong at a wedding in Mahipalpur.

[By Mayank Austen Soofi]

Somebody was getting married in Mahipalpur, an urban village near Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. The excitement had burst out into the afternoon alley. The white mare which would take the groom to the bride’s house was tied to an electric pole. The players of the music band, all set to blow trumpets, drums and saxophones, were having their last-moment-rest under the shade of a tree. The groom, however, could not be seen.

His friends had taken over a stretch of the street. They were dancing, with no women, in front of a motor van in which a stereo was playing Bollywood hits at full blast. Some were jubilantly lifted up by others into the air. A silver-haired man, possibly drunk, swayed with the music and bent his body back till the head reached the ground. He was the father of the groom.

The people of the street – the paan walla, the fruit walla, the shop walla – had gathered around the van. Neighborhood women, heads covered, watched from balconies. School children, on the way home, stopped to gawk with open mouths. A mad beggar went on laughing.

From this crowd emerged a boy in a yellow tee shirt. He climbed up the van. There he spread his arms, slithered his body, and began to make pelvic thrusts. All the while he lip-synced the song with passionate facial expressions. Soon another boy joined him. Facing each other, they stood far apart, held hands, jerked their heads, then pulled each other and embraced. Suddenly the stereo went off. The boys stepped down.

The music started after a minute. Dancing renewed. But something had snapped. The mood was missing. The ladies went back to their kitchens. The hungry children ran home. The stalls owners returned to their little businesses. Only the laughing beggar stayed back. The moment was lost. The boys had separated.

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