Jalsa 2023: In the Eyes of a Ninja

Ninjas In Diwali X Harambee | Source: IMSA Student Productions

Who were the people at Jalsa who wore black and made an appearance from the shadows on stage?

A ninja: running around in a full-black outfit, a workout of its own. A fun, but sweat-inducing workout. Voices swirled within my ears as I worked with other stage ninjas, gathering ourselves for the next part of our job. You might have seen a faint outline of a person around during a performance. Or maybe a person dressed in darker clothing walking around backstage. In every culture show, these are the flitting figures running across the stage either cleaning up any leftover things from the previous performance or setting up a band performance. Sometimes they are elusive, sometimes they put on their own show of their own. But we are always there to keep a show going.

Solitaire Club is next! Solitaire Club is next! Solitaire Club is next! All the members were rapidly assigning equipment and giving last-minute tips on what to do as the previous act finished up… 

Someone get the hi-hat!

Someone get the keyboard stand!

Two ninjas need to hold the bass drum!

Although I was a bit nervous about having to be in front of a crowd, I reassured myself that I’d be fine. I have dealt with being in front of large groups of people, so I kept myself calm. I’m a ninja, garbed in a completely black outfit accentuated with some white shoes. Just run out and set everything up. As I helped to carry out the bass drum onstage, I finally understood what people meant when they said that people hype ninjas up when they run onstage.

Yeah, Nathaniel!

Let’s go, Nathaniel!

Those shouts came from different directions, filling the void between the previous performance and the next part of the script. The hype cut through the awkward silence like a knife, transforming my neutral face into a goofy grin. I took solace in knowing that some people were able to recognize me through the darkness. I would’ve waved to the crowd, but I had to stick to my role: to carry the bass drum around. Even after I was done with the drum, I wasn’t done yet… 

What’s next for me? Lexington. Food setup.

Setting up all the food, getting the drinks ready, assigning serving stations… the tasks flew around. Everything was a blur as we got the food ready before the crowd inevitably rushed to the food line to be one of the first people to try what the parents cooked up.

And the doors opened.

I don’t even know how much time has passed. 30 min? An hour? An hour and a half? I was going through the dishes in my assigned section, seeing faces unfamiliar and familiar. I had no idea how fast or how much time had passed, but the line eventually calmed down as the last bits of the line phased out. Now that I myself could eat, I could take a quick dinner break and a break from my ninja obligations as well.

My job was not done… yet. We had some leftovers. As we walked around campus to distribute leftovers within each hall, I could feel the fatigue beginning to set in my feet after standing for quite a while. It was a trek around campus as we deliberated which halls would get which and how much we could give out for each hall. 

10:50 p.m.

We were rather tuckered out, but I would say the team had a good time going around and distributing everything. Blending into the night as I walk back to my hall, I smile.

About the Author

Nathaniel Huang
Hi there! I'm Nathaniel, a senior-year staff writer currently living in 1505 C-Wing. You can probably find me in a quiet corner, listening to various music, watching a Twitch stream, looking at either a map, a painting, or some music compositions, or practicing for Quiz Bowl.

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