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Akram Khan Speaking Recently With Hardeep Singh Kohli

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  • Thu, Jul 26, 2012 - 01:19pm

    Arundhati Roy

    Arundhati Roy

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    Akram Khan Speaking Recently With Hardeep Singh Kohli

This a short piece of dialogue that I transcribed from a radio interview several days ago. I'd searched for a suitable place to put it here, finally settling upon its own thread.

I hope you will be as moved.

I'll tell you a little story.

I was in Australia a few years back, and I was performing with Juliette Binoche. We'd just finished the show at the Sydney Opera House – I left – I decided to take a taxi even though the hotel was very close – I waited for the taxi for 5 minutes – it was pretty cold.

A taxi arrived – as I opened the door a rude couple behind me got in the taxi and shut the door. Then they decided to role the window down and say, "Are you Akram Khan?" And I said, "Maybe". I was pretty angry because they took my taxi. "Were you the one performing at the Sydney Opera House?" I said, "Maybe", and they realised it was me, and he said, "thanks for the show", rolled up the window and left.

So, I waited another 5 minutes and a second taxi arrived. I opened the door – as I opened the door and I got in the taxi, it was the first time in my life I wanted to hear my fathers voice – I've never – I don't have a phone conversation with my father – I don't have that kind of relationship – it's my mother I call – especially when I'm abroad – I miss home – I call my mother.

But I needed to hear my fathers voice – I've never felt like that before – it was a surreal experience – I got in the taxi – I called my father.

I call my father and I'm speaking to him in Bengali and I said, "Dad, how are you?". He goes, "What you want?" I said, "I'm not sure really, I just wanted to say hello". He goes, "Ah, you're in trouble with the police aren't you?" I said, "Dad, I'm 34" – 35 at the time – "I'm not in trouble with the police, I just wanted to say hello".

So, I put the phone down – that was a – it was all in Bengali. The taxi driver turned around to me and said, "Is your father Musharraf Khan?" I started to recollect – I never mentioned my fathers name – we don't mention our fathers name in our culture – and I said, "Yeah, how do you know this?" He goes, "Just answer me one more question" – he's talking to me in Bengali – the taxi driver.

He said, "Was he from a small village called Manchikon?" Now, there are 200 people in the world that know that. 195 of those people still live there. The other 5 are my mother, my father, my sister and me, and I presume this taxi driver.

I said, "No, you tell me how you know such specific information, because you're freaking me out". He said, "Just answer the question, I beg of you". I said, " Yeah, he's from Manchikon". So, the man started to cry. I said, "look, what is going on, why are you crying now?"

He goes, "I've been searching for your father for 35 years. He was my best friend as a child. I know that his son was a dancer because I used to read the newspapers in Bangladesh, but your father emigrated to the west from that small village. I'd lent him a little bit of money that I'd saved because your father had big dreams. I didn't, and I said, 'Go and live your dreams'."

So when he left they disconnected and lost touch, and I thought, the coincidence of that freaked me out – and I called my father and I said, "Aba, there is someone who wants to speak to you". And he said, "Who is it?". I said, "Well, er, taxi driver, what's your name, how would my father call you?" He said, "say Binloopi, Abas Binloopi".

There was a silence for a minute. And then for the first time in my life I heard my father cry.

And I started to think, that's when I was in suspended time.

And I started to feel real – I started to feel spiritual. There was a moment of serenity in my fathers voice that I'd never heard before.

  • Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - 08:05pm



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Arundhati Roy

I am a member who rarely posts because I usually don’t have any words of wisdom to pass on.  After reading this thread, I was very moved, but ironically this story leaves me speechless once again because of the power of the stories content.  Thank you for sharing this story.  For once it feels good not to have anything to say, your post / story leaves me with inner feelings that cannot be expressed in words.  Michael

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