Dance of Confidence
Cancer could not keep Anjali Roy from putting on her ghungroo and following the beats.By Gayatri Namboodiri
What strikes one even in the very first conversation with Anjali Roy is the amazing confidence in her voice. The 16-year-old, who dances with just one leg, is brimming with hope and joy. The future looks bright, with the twin passions of teaching and dancing beckoning her. This dancer and young cancer survivor from Kolkata is surely on her way to achieve her goals.Anjali was only 11 years old when the dreaded C-word struck. When her parents Amit Roy, a garment factory worker, and Rita, a homemaker, took her to hospital to treat for a swelling in the left knee, they were devastated to learn that their child had osteosarcoma or bone cancer. She did undergo chemotherapy, but as the tumour did not shrink, they had to amputate her leg. Due to her illness, Anjali lost two years at school. She is now an eighth standard student at Subhasgram Nabatara Vidyalaya, Kolkata.
Anjali used to dance before her surgery and she was keen to continue even though she lost a leg. Dr Soma De, Deputy In-charge at the Paediatric Oncology Department, Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre & Research Institute, helped in getting the young girl back on her foot. Anjali gives her parents full credit for always being a source of support. “They have always supported me and have been with me all the way,” she says. When Anjali was recovering from her surgery, her parents showed her the dance videos of Sudha Chandran, the actor-dancer, who is famous for dancing with one leg. Watching her film, Naache Mayuri, was a big source of inspiration for Anjali to get back to dancing. Even as she continues her regular dance lessons, Anjali performs on stage at various functions. Going on stage boosts her confidence to perform better the next time, she says.
“When She Began, She Was Worried Whether She Would Be Able To Dance With One Foot. I Told Her To Learn Balancing On One Leg And Take Up Skipping. This Has Helped Her Get Her Balance And Improve Her Performances.”Anjali Roy, Dancer
Anjali’s dance teacher of three years, Kuntal Bardhan, is full of praise for his young student. She was introduced to him by the hospital, where she had undergone treatment and he was instantly struck by her confidence and willingness to achieve something. “I started teaching her in June 2015,” he says. “When she began, she was worried whether she would be able to dance with on one leg and take up skipping. This has helped her get her balance and improve her performances.” Speaking highly of Anjali, Bardhan said she is a very confident student who wants to achieve many things in the field of dance. “Anjali has received many awards in her dance journey and next, I would like to recommend her for the Rashtriya Puraskar as she certainly deserves one.”
Ask what motivates her in her journey, which many others would have abandoned mid-way, and Anjali says that she wants to pursue teaching and dance together, and this is what keeps her going. Due to her physical condition, she is not able to pursue any pure form of dance, but is now learning a type of Bengali classical dance.
Anjali’s calm, quiet voice, never lets on about the turbulent journey she has undergone at such a young age, where most children are only interested in play. Anjali’s childhood dream was to perform in front of an audience and gather applause. She is doing the same now, but under different circumstances. As I conclude my interview with this young cancer survivor, who is an inspiration for many, all I can hope is that may Anjali’s dance journey help her achieve all her dreams.
Anjali was greatly inspired to continue dancing after watching danseuse Sudha Chandran’s biopic