family, movie

Why I Should Maybe Stop Watching Horror

And also movies where you have”suspenses”. 

Last Saturday, VJ let us engage in the Conversations about Cinema, and it was super fun. Everybody had stories to tell, but I forgot so many of my own. And that class brought back so much of them. 

I have often been scolded by my friends for spoiling the suspense, which I manage to guess. And there’s this thing I have for animation movies – because I feel they’re like dreams. Anything and everything can happen. 

I don’t remember when exactly I had first seen my horror movie. But then maybe, it doesn’t start with a movie at all? 

The earliest memory I have of anything ‘horror-ish’ is perhaps this weird serial I used to watch with my grandpa and cousins. This is something that happened only at my mom’s house. The room would be dark, lights off and all those trees would be peeking in through those old fashioned grilled windows. I don’t remember the name or the story at all; it has a couple and a yakshi I think. I don’t even remember how old I was – seven or eight? My grandpa used to watch, and we used to sit with him. Somehow, the idea of getting scared didn’t scare us, instead it might as well as have excited us. But one of my cousins was a little hesitant to look at the TV; she had the habit of peeking through the gaps in between the fingers of her hand – which covered her face – so that she would be terrified, but still not miss any part of it at the same time. The same cousin would, years later, sit with me to watch Paiyaa, fast forwarding through all the songs and the fight scenes – it’s a Tamil movie. 

Years later, my grandfather had passed away. The four of us were together in that house after years, for the rituals. And one night, we were in his bedroom discussing the movie ‘Mirrors‘. Well not really discussing, since we hadn’t watched the movie. I had just seen that one scene where the hero’s sister dies, and decided I’ll watch the movie in leisure – from the beginning- the next time. The eldest one, S, then continued to narrate the story. And I helped her scare the other two. And after this, I don’t remember why exactly  – we (S and I) had to step out of the room. It was dark out there, since our mothers were at some other corner of the house. We had to go to S’s room – she lived with her mother and grandpa – to take something. She was searching in the dark, so was I. But then she turned on the lights (on purpose) , and I was standing right in front of the dressing mirror. I had an exciting heart attack, after which we started giggling. We went back to the room and terrified the other two, reminding them that reflections were enough. 
I have perhaps become used to watching horror movies, and writing horror was a much later addition. I had watched Conjuring 2 in theatre, and that was the first horror movie I saw in a theatre. I had planned to go with my two BBFs – Bangalore Best Friends, S and P. 

The movie was, in many ways funny. And there were so many people commenting aloud – even us perhaps. But my classmates had perhaps praised it so much, that I had placed the movie high in expectations. So much that, no matter how scary the movie was, it would still not be scary enough for me. It was maybe unfair of me to do so. But then, it was a beautiful movie -mind blowing I would say. 
I have already written about how to write horror stories. Or rather how I write themI’ve always wondered what somebody expects from a horror movie. Many a times, almost half of the horror effect is lost when you’re watching it on TV. But you can still recreate it to an extent – lights off at midnight that leaves just you and the movie. Shefali says horror films bore her; and I sort of agree with her. It doesn’t bore me, but if you’ve already watched the movie, then you lose the advantage of the ‘surprise’ element. And also, there are movies with a lot of blood shed – killing people or butchering them, piranhas or sharks eating you. All these would never fall into my idea of horror. A little bit is perhaps inevitable, but usually such movies disgust me. 

I guess I’ve always been interested in the stories they tell, even if most of the time it is incomplete. And at times barely there. And this is not just for horror movies. We all keep watching a movie again and again and again. For instance, I don’t remember when exactly I had first seen Manichithrathazhu, but I know that every time after that I haven’t changed the channel if they’re playing the movie. My parents don’t let me see the movie in peace (or in pieces) as they start reciting dialogues as if the Bhoot has got them. And then, I join them. 

family, short story

Three Stories 

​*This was written seven months ago, based on a prompt given by my professor. 

I was walking up to the main road – in uniform – with my mother. My apartment was around 200-300 metres off the main road – but it was not like the usual idavazhi. It was more like those long driveways you made for sand palaces at the beach. I crossed the road, and waited for the bus. 
I was so busy chatting with my mother that I noticed the bus only after it stopped in front of me. I jumped into it, only to realise lunch kit was with my mother. (So next time my teacher asks me, “Have you ever forgotten your lunch, I can say “Yes”.)

I was sitting in III A, worrying about my lunch. My class teacher informed me that my mother had called her up, and had asked her to let me have something from the canteen.

I was extremely excited at the thought since the canteen was only a week new. Finally the lunch bell rings, and I rush to the canteen. But to my disappointment, I discover veg meals on my table. I hate plain rice, especially the gundu gundu ones. They’re so scary, as if they will eat me up. But well, the sambar was good, so was the pickle. After lunch, I ran off to play, and almost forgot about this. Till I was back home.

My mother was eagerly waiting for me at the bus stop. On our walk back home, my mother started chatting: how I had forgotten my lunch, how she had worried so much that she called up my teacher and asked her to get me a pizza from the canteen.

“Pizza? I had meals!”, said I .

My mother’s smile flew away immediately, and she all she said was, “oh”.

I had stopped walking and was staring at her, in utter disappointment. But she snapped out of her trance, and we walked silently.

                                                                                   

                                                                                     *********

You are busy eating pizza. You pull out the big jalapeno, and deposit it in your mouth. A little bit of cheese follows from the tip of the sector. You settle down on the couch, and turn on the idiot box. Your mom is angry that you eat so much of junk, and that you have become such an excellent potato couch.
She starts murmuring and grumbling. 

“What is it ma? Let me eat in peace.” You say.

“It’s all my fault.” She says. “I should have never forced you to taste this. Now all you eat is junk. Who will eat the vegetables? My child doesn’t like healthy food.”

“What’s wrong? And why would you force me to eat junk at all?” you ask, curious.

And she begins:

When you were really young, around five I think, we had gone to Pizza Corner. It was your first time, and you manged to try the garlic bread. But you didn’t want to eat pizza at all. You didn’t even want to try it. Perhaps you were intimidated by it, I don’t know.

(You stop chewing like a cow, and drop your jaw. No way, you protest.  Don’t believe her – she is just messing with you.)

Believe it or not, that is the truth. I had to persuade you to try it. Just a bite. But no, you were so adamant. If only I had given up, and let you be. 

(Seriously? You look at the pizza slice you are eating and silently apologise to it – for you hurt its feelings back then. You feel guilty.)

And once you had taken a bite, you liked it very much. And now, all you eat is pizza.
                                                                           *************

 

Somewhere near Malalparambu, Calicut little Neha is lying on her mother’s lap, extremely bored. She had had her dinner, but that too was boring. She was very excited at the thought of dinner, but all of it had vanished when she didn’t find anything special. She preferred her mother’s cooking – so crisp, hot and fast. She never had to wait long to eat. But now she was at her aunt’s.
Little Neha was the only kid in the house. Her cousins are much older to her. Her cousin sister is preparing for the medical entrance; and so the aunt never allows anybody to watch TV in peace. One would wonder why they have a TV at all. The uncle is always watching the news or sports. Poor little Neha hates both.

The uncle is watching news again. But everybody is sitting on the floor: her parents, the uncle, the aunt, and her cousin brother. The cousin sister is upstairs – in her room – locked. No, nobody locked her up, but she had locked it from the inside. This weird behaviour always intrigued little Neha. But the news bored her more than anything. Everybody is busy listening to, or perhaps trying to listen to the news. Except her. The elections are going on, but she is least bothered about it. Why should she be? She is not allowed to vote.

Her mother notices that she is quite distracted.

“Pay attention. The elections are up, you should know what’s happening around you’, she says.

“No. News is so boring. I don’t want to watch it.”, replies little Neha.

She asks,”Ok. Whom do you think should win?”

“Well….” Muses little Neha, quite take aback by the question.

“I think congress should win” she says finally remembering one of the very few names she knew in politics.

Why? Because there is Sonia Gandhi in it.  Gandhi. She knew nothing more. Nobody is aware of this innocent conversation happening behind them, and they continue watching.
                                                                          *************

family

My Puyu

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Today, I was very tired after college. I threw my bag away, somewhere on my way to the sofa. (my mom always complain that I was much more ‘organised’ as a kid.)
I lied down lazily on the aquamarine ‘L’ sofa, hugging the big cushion on its side, listening to my mom say random stuff. Suddenly she changes the topic.
Ammu, promise me you won’t cry.
I will. What is it?
No no, promise.
Just tell me.
I was playing with Puyu. He fell, and broke his spinal cord. He passed away. I’m so sorry.

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I suddenly experienced an Agnes moment, when purple Kevin snatches her unicorn.
Ente Puyu. Ente Puyu. Ente Puyu.
I thought you would notice it immediately, but you were so busy for the past two days.
Ente Puyu. Ente Puyu. Ente Puyu.
I cried again.
I had bought the puzhu (worm) from a vendor who suddenly appeared opposite my college gate. I named him Puyu – how I used to pronounce Puzhu as a kid.
Sob. Sob. How happy we were. He loved to play with me. He loved to play with mum too.

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But now, he is no more. I shall miss pulling his ears, and arms and feet. He had four arms and four feet. But he preferred to crawl. (it’s not easy to walk with so many feet you know).
Oh how I shall miss you my sweet buddy. Who else can stretch so far, and still be in one piece.
Rest in peace my friend. You shall always be remembered.

family, travel

The Drowsy Drive

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You were sandwiched between your aunt and your dad, grumbling at your dad because he stole the window seat where you wanted to sleep. He was wide awake, busy on the GPS trying to reassure us that we’d not lost hope. This is when you wish your uncle wouldn’t have thrown tantrums at you to not to go via Mysore. And now you were lost, in the middle of nowhere, farther from your destination than you initially were. As if that was not enough, you couldn’t fall asleep because of the continuous banging of your head on the seat, and you wish to could just keep your head in your lap and rest in peace – headless. Tears of boredom roll down your cheeks, while you squint at the sunlight trying to figure out where you’ve reached – not that it makes much of a difference. And your uncle teased you at your occasional comments, that you were not coherent enough. Your uncle who probably was Sherlock Holmes’ disciple, who would try his best to cross-examine and post mortem everything that crossed his attention – except for all that was his- conveniently overlooked the fact that you were too sleepy to be bothered by him. But because he was your uncle, you politely advise him it’s about time he visited the ENT.

After hours and hours of boredom and traveling and irritating GPS noises, you are finally there. The rain, the trees, and house that reminds you of your grandpa’s place, cheers you up. You can’t wait to get in, to click pictures, watch the rain and run around the house like a 5-year-old. They all drink tea, their second tea, and you’re left out – you hate tea and nothing else is available. Your stomach is already grumbling, and you become a purple minion for a while. You throw tantrums at your dad, as you hadn’t eaten anything after lunch.
And then, your assignment -which you procrastinated for so long – pops up, hitting you on your nose. Ouch.
So you dump your hunger on the sofa, get into a bed and start typing on your phone, till you smell food, and you go into a trance which sings “fooooooooooooooood”.
You forget your assignment for a few minutes, and run into the varanda to eat. You hungrily dig into 4-5 pieces of chicken, and suddenly feel full. So you run back to your assignment, and apologize to it for abandoning it midway. And then you type, type, type and type. Your mom pops in now and then, calling you to come have dinner. But you’re already too far away in America, talking about their first amendment and freedom of speech .
And finally when you’re done, you realise you’re too lazy to eat, and not hungry enough to get rid of that laziness. So you let it pass. You play on your phone for a while, and then off to sleep.

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The next morning you wake up at 10, monstrously hungry, because you didn’t eat anything since 7:30 p.m. the previous night. It’s poori masala, and you’re about to eat it, when you’re uncle starts making noises at you,” Ooohhhh, your mom was worried you would start screaming, because she says you don’t like poori masalas, and that you would refuse to eat. ”
Stuffing your mouth with poori, you reply, ” Well, I don’t like poori masala for dinner. I don’t like to have wheaty food after a long day at college. That’s all.”
Does all of this really matter when you’re hungry? You would have refused to eat it , yes, but only when you are not hungry or when you have another option. But then, obviously your uncle hardly noticed you were missing the previous night, among all the food he ate. Sigh.
You’re too lazy to get ready, but you somehow do get ready. And then, finally you’re on your way back home. Another never ending journey, before you reach home. Before you can see your sofa, or your bed.

family

Somewhere I Should Belong, by Deafult

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I used to be the tomboyish Buttercup, among the three Powerpuff Girls. I really didn’t have much of a choice, both my cousin sisters has already made their choice. But now that I think of it, Blossoms was too bossy for me, and Bubbles perhaps too girly. Or that was just a defence mechanism theory I made up. But none of it really matters now.

I usually preferred to go to my mother’s place, because there were video games there, and my cousins were almost my age, with one of them being four years elder, and the other being two years elder. But in my dad’s family, I was freakingly the youngest. I was the youngest in my mom’s side too, but then it was freaky in my dad’s family because there was this really huge age gap. As of now, I’m the only one who is still in college. And they used to play FIFA in their computers, and I, well I got bored of trying to figure out who had the ball. I was too lazy to be bothered. And when I played, I used to press the keys randomly till I somehow made a goal. Spontaneous planning and zero strategy.

My dad’s family also came with another added feature, and that was lecturing the life out of you. Literally, draining out any sense you have left. My dad’s younger sister wouldn’t bother so much, because she knows I will run away. But my uncle doesn’t show me any mercy at all: even if I don’t pay attention to him, even when I make faces that say ‘I don’t care’, look all around me but not at him, he would still go on. And on and on and on and on and on. And on.

My dad was no different, but definitely better. The same story again and again, how they grew up, how their dad used to be so strict, etc. etc. I had already had enough, but they would never have enough!

The biggest tragedy (for me, probably comedy for my cousins) is that because I am the youngest, they (uncles and aunts) love to bully me. And lecture me. They’re kids are perfect, only I need all the free advice in the world. My other aunt, was a professor (now retired). That too physics. My congenital enemy’s (maths) relative. What she explained didn’t really add much to the very little I already knew. At least she didn’t irritate me as much as my uncle did.

Apparently, I was a mega source of unending entertainment for my uncle, who would question everything and everybody, including the bored looks I would give him; my friends too were like new crime scenes to him. Everything I did: reading a book, failing or topping an exam, or even listening to music were new areas of interest for him. I was his lab rat. His subject NM. He would ignore the bored looks I give him, but now, I also argue with him. A lot. After all, why should I agree with him at all? That his opinion is always right. No. I always had my own ideas, opinions and weird theories to life. He believed in planning. Maybe a little too much. On the other hand, I stopped planning stuff a long time ago, because anyways it is not going to be as I planned. Life is always full of surprises, and there’s a limit to which you can plan.

My grandfather, mom’s dad, was addicted to news channels. He would watch it all day, and wouldn’t miss the 9 p.m. news for anything in the world. And we would watch HBO and Star Movies only by 9:30 p.m. He loved to irritate us.

I also have this uncle who is always watching news; must be why I am quite allergic to news channels. Also, they would create a hype that my cousin was studying, so keep the volume. Watch it on mute. And now there’s a kid there. The same thing again. They should probably sell their TV as only the uncle actually uses it, because you can actually watch news on mute.

And when it comes to my own parents, well most of the time, I am not sure if I am their kid, or if they are mine.