My parents have always been very expressive about the things my generation is missing out on and how these smartphones and other gadgets are making us paranoid.
They believe they lived in an era in which the families enjoyed and shared real life experiences together. Back then, there was a single channel aired on TV yet there were carnivals, amusement parks, and Lucky Irani Circus.
My mother, particularly, loved to talk about the Circus. She’d always tell us how she saw a creature that had the face of a woman but the body of a lion. Her enthusiasm would make me curious and I started to wonder if there was really something I was missing out on — and, trust me, I was.
I looked up on the venue of Lucky Irani Circus, on the internet, and headed out.
It’s been a few months since my visit but the idea recently struck me that why I haven’t shared my experience with those who have either never been to a circus or their visit stands as a part of their childhood memory.
It is said that Circus is a place where human and animals comes together and spread happiness. Originated in 1968, modern circus was brought to Pakistan by Mian Farzand Ali in 1970, by the name of ‘Lucky Irani Circus.’ As the years passed, the circus moved to various cities and villages of Pakistan, and the team won over the hearts of millions of people around the country.
It has the same set that is put up wherever the Circuswallahs go: There are gates that are fixed, tents fitted and stage laid out. Besides, there are bars and ropes and boards that are placed where the acts are to be performed. Costumes of the performers are sewed by the talented team of tailors.
At every show there are dozens of performers who risk their lives to spread happiness. A show generally contains acts comprising the clowned jugglers using unusual objects, the knife-throwing, axe walk, single wheel cycling, Trapeze, aerial act and acrobat dance among others.
The performances are not only staged by humans but also animals that skillfully showcase what their coaches have taught them. Animals including lions, stallions, bears, camels, monkeys and the giant king cobras are part of the show and perform different stunts for the audience.
Despite the minimal wages they are paid for performing life threatening stunts, the participants appear before a stupefied audience — all happy, their faces painted.
The people at the Circus believe there is always a place for everyone, no matter what height you are or what body type. Those who are rejected in other fields of life often end up making a place for themselves here.
There are dwarfs who have been rejected in life, and eventually found a place in the world of the circus. Today, they entertain people most joyfully. Charles Dickens rightly said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
Performers have been involved in the circus through generations. Their children and grandchildren are seen following in their elders’ footsteps. In other words, they are taught the stunts from a very early age. As they say, ‘The earlier, the better.’
I was stunned to see children as young as five years old diving in the air with a rubber handle in their mouth and balancing themselves at bars that hung high. Of course, these stunts receive massive appreciation and applause from the audience but the fact that a minor’s life is being put in risk should not be ignored.
My favourite part, which left me completely overwhelmed, was meeting the talented women and young girls of the Circus. They were bold, beautiful, and daring who could perform live in front of a crowd of hundreds — most of them men. They hung and swung from a height no ordinary mortal would dare to attempt. They walked the tightrope, managing their balance gracefully.
The women also made their way through the burning rings like nobody’s business. I found them to be a true source of inspiration.