The sound of one hand clapping

As he took a bow at the end of the final act, the room erupted into a monstrous applause. The crowd began to stand and as they did so, their applause escalated to a crescendo, but the only sound that he could hear, the only one in the room that really mattered, was the sound of one pair of hands clapping. The sound of his father’s applause. For the insecure, scrawny young boy who had now become a man, it was the most momentous occasion of his life and after years of hard work and harbouring feelings of rejection and inferiority this was all the vindication he needed.

At the ‘all boys’ school he’d attended as an adolescent, he stood out for all the wrong reasons. Because of his dream of wanting to be a dancer he suffered the cruel punishment of being bullied by his peers and at home things were no better. His father, being a proud masculine man, accustomed to hard labour as a result of his farming background, could not conceive of any son of his becoming a dancer. He’d spat out the words ‘A DANCER?!? No son of mine!’ the day his son had arrived home to proudly announce to his father that he knew what he wanted to become one day.

For an optimistic 7year old with his whole future ahead of him, this was not the reaction he had expected from the man he idolised and who’s approval was  the one that counted the most. He was shattered and although his mother had comforted him, saying that it’s just how his Dad was raised, she had also advised him that it may be best to start dreaming of a different future, one that involved a more masculine role.

So he buried his dreams right at the very bottom of his heart, covering them up with many layers of pretence and expectations. The boy grew up fulfilling the more ‘appropriate’ role of a strong young boy, as his father expected of him. He’d joined the sports teams at school and after school would help his father with the cattle on their farm.

But, deep down inside, the boy still harboured his secret dream of becoming a dancer and in the evenings, all alone in his room, in the dead of night, he would sneak out to the barn and practise dance routines which he would watch over at his friend Kelly’s house. He would take out his cassette player, put on his head phones and dance to his heart’s content.

When the boy finished school and the time came for him to choose a university, he chose Juilliard. Needless to say his father did not approve of his son’s decision and refused to pay for his son to become a dancer. So the boy attended a local community college for a year and worked two jobs after school to raise the money for his first year’s tuition. The next year he was excepted to Juilliard and he was ecstatic, although he still had to work two jobs to be able to afford being there and he’d since been kicked out of his father’s house and was now having to pay rent to crash on his friend’s couch.

But it had all paid off eventually. Here he was for the first time ever, performing on Broadway in what would become one of his biggest career highlights. He’d made it to the top and dance critics were singing his praises all over town, but none of it mattered, because this was the moment he’d waited for all his life. The moment where he would once again see the look of pride on his father’s face, that he had longed for for such a long time. His father stood and applauded his son, the dancer, and with tears streaming down his face he felt an overwhelming sense of love and pride, as he thought to himself: ”A DANCER!!! This son of mine, yes this son of mine is a dancer!’

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2 thoughts on “The sound of one hand clapping

  1. Bilqees Hendricks says:

    WoW.. I don't know what to say. This short story really touched me, my heart just sank when his father saw him perform and suddenly he was a “proud father”! I also love this boy's tenacity, how easy would it have been for him to give up?


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