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. 

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description, humour

The Perfect Horror

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You are obsessed with horror stories , and you want to write a decent one. But you have had a consistent history of turning your horror stories into humour. But at least, you have the Canterville ghost to support you. Only he shall be able to empathise with you, since he too had failed to scare the Otis family. But you decide to get serious. You take it to the next level.
You kick everybody out of your house, and make sure you lock only the main door ( and the balcony door) –  any door that is a connection to the outside world. The larger the house the better. You waste your time till 1 a.m. watching TV, preferably horror movies.
Then, you switch it off, get off the couch, check the door and find your pink blanket. Then you switch off every light, making sure only enough light passes through the window.  Enough light to make scary clawy shadows. ( if you’re living on the 17th floor, chances are there won’t be any claws. But you can still adjust with what you have.)
You walk to your bed, and you visualise yakshis and raktharaakshasis popping up from nowhere at your doorways. (You are allowed to imagine people you don’t like as the above mentioned.)You are on your bed, the blanket of darkness overwhelming the happy pink blanket. You imagine the worst things that can happen. Scare the shit out of yourself. You hear weird noises from upstairs. Better. You think you heard the door moan. Even better. You feel like there are evil spirits waiting for you to fall asleep so that they can have you as midnight snack. Excellent.

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Hide under your blanket, and write the story down. Then go to sleep – if you can. You are not done. Post it on your blog – categorise it, and add tags. Share it on the social media.
You show it to your mother, but she is not sure where the horror is. Your dad is in no mood for horror, and thus he has no idea what’s going on in the story. So he starts asking whys and whats. You call your best friend, who lives far away, and she can no longer speak – she is on her bed with a bad stomach ache. For she imagined you narrating the story, your voice echoing in her head. She could not take it, she almost died laughing. Only almost. You take it to your other best friend in the city. He is no longer on his chair, but already on the floor hugging himself – the minute he saw your name. For the same reasons mentioned earlier.

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You shall not lose hope. There are people who don’t know you at all. They will not hear your voice in their head. Only the voice of the story. So you wait. Till somebody likes it.

travel

Bus to Bangalore

Long back, around six years ago, I had boarded a bus to Bangalore with my parents. It was probably my second visit to the city, and though I was not a Kannadiga, I was closely attached to the city – because I was born there. So, my first visit obviously had been when I had come out of my mother’s tummy crying. Or perhaps giggling. Who knows, what if me giggling sounded like me crying because that was what was expected.

I was so proud of Bangalore, the city where I, the whacko who never shuts up, was born. I was so excited – as if I was going to meet my brother, who had been separated from me at birth. I didn’t feel like I was going to be a tourist there, it felt as if I was going home. After a long time. Since I was barely a year old when I had stayed in Bangalore, I didn’t remember any of it. I wanted to discover the city, know what it looked like, and listen to my parents discussing as to how much it has changed.

We stayed in a room, above a supermarket at Brigade Road. That was the Bangalore I saw. I looked at the street in awe, with starry eyes and watery mouth, all my junk food at one place! Incredible! And so many options to choose from! It was simply paradise for me.

At the room, I danced in the AC, jumped on the bed, and then laid down to charge myself. And then, once I was completely charged, I unplugged myself, and freshened up, all ready to hit the streets. Right outside the supermarket, there was this stall selling momos.

Awwwww, I thought. What a cute name! MO-MOS. It vaguely reminded me of this cartoon I used watch, in Animax perhaps? I don’t remember, but there were three girls who had pixies named DoDo, ReRe and MiMi. And now, I was eating MoMos. It was perhaps the first time I had had momos, and I fell in love with it. Especially that chutney – I wanted to eat it, as if it were soup.

And then, I went shopping – and more importantly – bargaining. I watched as my mom negotiated with the shopkeepers in Hindi, highly influenced by Malayalam, her mother-tongue. But some of the shopkeepers themselves were not so fluent.

And then, I had all my beloved junk food, extremely happy that my mother didn’t mind me having so much of junk in two days. But on such occasions, she always made sure I enjoyed. McDonalds for lunch, and Dominos for dinner.

“No more junk food till I say so,” she said.

I made a sad face at her.

“What? You had so much of it today, I didn’t restrict you did I? Now you have to be a good girl, and eat good food too, like fruits and vegetable. I let you have all that you want here, didn’t I?  Didn’t you have an awesome time here?” she asked.

I flashed all of my teeth at her, and said, “Yessssssssss!”

And now, I live in Bangalore. I study here, and I realised Bangalore was bigger than the one I had seen. And every time I pass that supermarket in Brigade Road, I want that chutney!

food, travel

Ragi Mudhhe

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One of the professors had asked the class to go to a military hotel and have ‘ragi mudhhe’ compulsorily. Because I felt the lunch break was not long enough, and I would be fast asleep as soon as I hit my sofa (I don’t require a bed) I couldn’t go. Until the weekend.

I had been searching for a Saturday that would also be a holiday. And that was this weekend – 17 July. There were 9 of us -me, mom, dad, my grandma’s, uncle, aunt and 3 of my cousins – in two cars. We were on our way to Coorg, and my uncle was adamant that if we’re going via Mysore, then he’s going to get down. Maybe I should have let him. Or maybe not, it was his car after all. But as a result, we lost our way and went around in circles, even squares perhaps. I’m not sure, as I was happily half asleep at the back seat, between my dad and my aunt, registering the occasional GPS noises, especially the “GPS is lost”one. It would make me laugh in my sleep, it sounded so ironically funny – even the GPS can get lost.

I thought we’d reach by lunch. Nope. Tea? Nope. It was finally 6 by the time we reached – we’d started at 7:30 a.m. And then I started blowing bubbles in all directions, until my cousin said he can clean his cup (of tea) himself. I need not help him. My father reassured him that there were enough bathrooms, he need not worry.

Then I was frantically typing an assignment on my phone -which I planned to complete once I reached, but it took forever for us to ‘reach’. And then I went to sleep.

The next day, we all woke up late, and has an even later breakfast.  And started back to Bangalore again. It felt like we’d travelled more than we’d stayed at the house (we’d rented it for a day).

On my way back, I did notice a board saying ‘ family military hotel’. But then the building looked like it was about to fall off next time it rains there. And I missed it by this much.

Maybe I should have mentioned earlier that this was not about the ragi mudhhe I ate, but about the one I couldn’t eat.

On asking one of my friends about ragi mudhhe, what he said reminded me of something I’d eaten once. Just once. But I remember it so clearly, because I’d thought it was Gobi Manchurian, and greedily jumped into eating it. But alas, once in my mouth, I realized my mistake. Neither was it Gobi, nor was it Manchurian. Ever since I made sure what I was eating was what I thought it was.

description

Morning

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Not even a single ray of sunshine woke her up, as she had banished them from entering her room, especially when she was asleep. No, she did not like it when the sun would point his flashlight right on her face, first thing in the morning. Since heat was a form of energy, and would activate her surrounding molecules, spoiling her mood. She preferred a calm, cool morning where one doesn’t have to strain to open one’s eyes, because of all the light. She allowed only enough light to brighten up the room, just so it looks like it’s morning. And the blinds on her window was her semi permeable membrane, which only allowed the required to enter her kingdom. She opened her eyes and stared at her fan, which for some reason reminded her of a potter’s wheel. She could hear the utensils chattering in the kitchen. And in the hall, Arnab Goswami was shouting at somebody, as if that somebody was his teenager kid who had misbehaved. You say something, that’s disrespect and mannerless, and if you do open your mouth, then you’re not responding. Either way you will be shouted at. She just stared at blank space – configuring windows, like her laptop would say, when she turns it on. Ahh…. It’s a Sunday, she thought. Which meant she’s going to stay in bed for another hour, listening to music and being lazy. Sunday was her no-work-all-play day. It’d always been that way. She found it difficult to study on a Sunday. Somebody who does that is an alien from another galaxy for her. When she was little, she would wake up at around eight in the morning. Her mother would be still asleep – that was her mother’s only day off. She would go to the guestroom, which was also her playroom and run to her toy bag. It was her long lost friend whom she had not seen for a week. Then she would make up stories using her imagination, and play with her toys. Till her mom would call her for breakfast. But as she grew up, she was forced to study on Sundays – not that she liked it. So she preferred to finish her homework on Sundays, and enjoy rest of the day. That was her solution. But Monday mornings always horrified her – she always had the feeling that she’s forgotten something. Something that will hit her, like a tree she didn’t notice while walking. A noise from her door, brought her back to her room, disrupting her time travel. Good morning. Breakfast’s ready.

(creative writing)

description

It’s My Day

She woke up to the chattering of utensils in the kitchen, outside her closed room, where her parents were whispering to each other, as if they were planning to rob the house. She sat on her bed, which was when she saw the “Happy Birthday” hanging on the wall opposite her, like an inverted rainbow.

The door opened slowly, and once they made sure that she was awake, her parents rushed into the room and wished her. She flashed her teeth sleepily at them. She was finally five years old.

She walked around in slow motion, till her mother fast forwarded her. She stared at blank spaces, as if every molecule of air was wishing her a very happy birthday. She wore her favourite dress, and matching accessories. She was the only colour movie, among the other monotonous black and white movies. No need to wear socks or shoes, which meant her feet would not have to die of asphyxiation. But her mother avoided white dresses. Her mother knew very well that being the careless child she was, by the time she came back home, she would’ve practised art on it.

Then came the most important moment, when she would be handed her box of chocolates. But she would not give anybody more than one chocolate, except for two people – her best friend, and anybody who gave her more than one chocolate on their birthday. It was a silent deal – if you give me 2 chocolates on your birthday, then I will give you two chocolates on mine. Her classmates would do anything to get in her good books for the extra chocolates. But then she always counted the number of chocolates, and calculated how many will be left after distributing it among her classmates. But then there were those teachers who would just take so many chocolates at a time, driving a road roller over your dreams.

Next came the birthday party – and with it, colourful gifts. She freshened up, and changed her clothes. Her mom was setting the table, and her dad was placing five candles on her cake. She slowly sneaked up to the table, and reached out for the plate with chocolates. Her mom never lets her near the plate – she felt like a 70 year old diabetic. After all, it was her birthday. She had every right to eat as many chocolates as she wanted.

After the cake cutting, the eating and the games, she waited for everybody to leave – so she can open her gifts in privacy. But some people are like those stubborn politicians who just won’t retire. They take forever to leave.

adventure

The Fifth

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It was a pleasant evening, and the Sinha family had gone out for a picnic nearby. At the park, five year old Arun spotted a Ben Ten watch, and fell in love with it instantly. He ran to his parents, who were sitting under a tree a few metres away.

“Mumma, I want that! I want that!” he cried out.

“Ok ok, I’m coming. Let me just organize this thing and I’ll be there”, replied Mrs. Sinha.

“Aw Maaaa….. Make it fast”, said Aditya, restless.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Sinha was finally happy with the way she had set things up. Yet, she was irritated with her husband, as he had brought his work with him – she could still hear him screaming over the phone.

“Arun?” she called out.

“ARUN!”

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Inspector Avni Kumar spotted a couple filing an FIR as she entered the police station. The woman was weeping, her face pale and her eyes swollen. Since what she was saying was not coherent, her husband did the most of the talking. But when she realised why they were there, she paused – their son had gone missing earlier that day.

Every time she heard about a kid going missing – her heart would stop beating for a second. Her heart would feel so heavy, and she would get transported to her past – a past deep buried within her. A past that changed her life forever.

Seven year old Aditya had made sure no one had spotted him enter the kitchen. He slowly walked into the kitchen, and stretched out to reach the cookie jar. He had almost caught hold of it, when someone else’s hand brought the jar down. For a second, he froze. He let out a sigh of relief as he saw his sister, standing right beside him, grinning.

“Oh! Avi di, It was you. You scared me”, he said.

“Aha! Eating up all the cookies by yourself huh? “, she teased him.

“Avni! Aditya! Where are you? Come on… or we’ll be late for the wedding” called out their mother.

Both of them stuffed their mouths and ran out. Their mother locked the door as they got into the car.

“Stealing cookies again?”, she scolded them.

The only thing the brother-sister duo liked about weddings was the food they got to eat.  Especially the dessert.

“Aww… Please please please… could you get me one more ice cream”, Aditya pleaded his sister.

“Ok ok…. But this is the last one”, warned his sister.

“Wait here, ok? I’ll be right back.” said Avni.

She went to the person serving ice cream, made a puppy face and managed to get one more scoop of vanilla ice cream. This was the third time she was doing this, but it was Aditya’s favourite. But when she returned with her ice cream, she couldn’t find him anywhere. She called out his name, but he was nowhere. Tears streaming down her eyes, she ran to her parents.

That was the last time Aditya’s family ever saw him. They searched for him, informed the police station and also advertised in newspapers. But all in vain. They never got him back – and that is when Avni decided who she will become when she grows up.

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Arun was waiting for his mom to finish her work, so that he could buy that watch. He couldn’t just wait to buy it. So he stood near to the guy selling them, and waited for his mother, who was busy, a few metres away. A man, neatly dressed, approached him and smiled at him.

“I see you have been admiring the watches. But then this guy doesn’t have much selection. There is a shop nearby, the shopkeeper is my friend. If you want I can get you a good deal. Your mom looks busy, we can return by the time your mom finishes her work.” the man said.

At this, Arun stared at the watch in front of him, trying to decide what to do.

“He has a larger collection, way better than this cheap stuff”, the man said.

At this, Arun finally decided to go check out the shop.

“Alright” he said.

“Come on”, said the stranger, and caught Arun’s hand. As they walked away, Arun turned around and caught a glimpse of his mother setting things up and his father on the phone.

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Avni had been transferred to another city, but this case brought back that painful past, a past she had not yet overcome. She would often dream of Aditya going to college, maybe having a girlfriend. It is not easy to grow up all alone, when you know your kid brother is somewhere out there. When you know in your heart that things should have been different – but they are not. But life had something different in store for her.

And she knew what Arun’s parents were going through- she had living this horror for the past so many years. She grew up seeing her parents crying over their lost son. And so she decided, that before she leaves this city, she will find that boy. There are a lot of gangs involved in the big business of child trafficking, and she would destroy some part of it. It might not affect the well-established system at all, but this is a place to start.

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Aditya was just 2 year old, and his mom was feeding him. It was a Sunday and her dad was reading the newspaper. Avni was seven, and she had just returned home from the playground. The phone started ringing and her mom went to attend it. Avni pulled Aditya’s cheeks and played with him for a few seconds. But she was tired from all the running around and hide n seek that she felt thirsty. She went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and drank huge gulps of water. She had just kept the water back was on her way back to where Aditya was, when she heard a crash, followed by Aditya crying loudly. She ran towards – he was on the floor, a shattered jug lay near him. But what most horrifying for her was the blood flowing – from him. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. He was quite serious, and had cut his hand quite bad. He had five stitches and she could hear him cry as she waited outside.

Avni woke up suddenly – she was sweating profusely. She could still hear him crying.

She took a deep breath in and let it out. That incident had left behind a scar on his hand, below his right wrist, near his elbow. He had been real lucky that he did not cut his face.

It had been almost a week, but still, she couldn’t find the boy. She wanted to find him before something happened to him. Her phone brought her back to earth.

“Yes. Tell me”, she said briskly.

“Mm-hmm… ok”

“Ok…”

“Inform our team”

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Everything had been well planned. They were waiting for their prey to walk right into their trap. They had been informed that children abducted from various parts of the state were going to be transported to a nearby state, and that Arun was one among the 25 children about to be smuggled. Over the years Avni’s hate for trafficking and traffickers has only increased. Her personal grudge catalysed the whole process. She was well aware that the traffickers would be prepared to face such encounters, but she was planned too.

It was past midnight and there were eerie shadows creeping around. Her team of sixteen officers stood scattered across the street, all in plain clothes but well-armed (Avni and her five trusted officers were in uniform). While some of them were under the streetlight, around a car pretending to be friends on a road trip, the others were hidden – including Avni. They were expecting a tour bus, with five traffickers, including the driver. They planned to shoot at the tire.

After waiting patiently for around an hour, one of the officers on lookout spotted the bus.  Another officer shot the tire (the gun had a silencer). The bus came to a screeching halt. Three of them came out from inside the bus, got down and started examining, along with the driver. The group of friends immediately became concerned citizens and went over to where the bus was.

“Hey, are you ok? What happened?” asked one officer. (In disguise)

“Yes, I-i .. I am fi-fine” stammered the driver.

“Oh looks like some high school tour. Are you all ok? That was crazy” said another

“Yes, I think your tire is punctured. Which school is this? “Asked another one

“Ummm… ya we are from the neighbouring state… and… we-ee .. We’re on our way back. Gloria Public School. “Said one of the traffickers pausing here and there.

While all this was happening, the rest of the officers were moving towards them, in the shadows. The fifth one was still inside, probably watching over the kids. He will have to come out when none of his friends turn up, thought Avni.

They grabbed the four from behind, gagged their mouths so that they would not alarm the fifth one inside. Their weapons had been confiscated. By this time, Avni boarded the bus and waited for the fifth to appear, near the driver’s seat. As the fifth one came out, one of his friends shouted out to him – as he was being tied up and gagged – “Take the bus and run”

All the officers were outside the bus and Avni was the only one in the bus. Both of them had a gun and he could have tried – to maybe push her off the bus or overpower her, and might as well have been successful in driving the bus for some distance – at least save himself. But he just stood there paralysed. He stared at Avni’s badge, which had her name on it, stupefied. Avni used this opportunity and kicked the gun out from his and pointed the gun at him. He was startled but didn’t react. Two officers immediately boarded the buses and brought him down. The guy was completely lost in thought.

As they were waiting for the van to escort the traffickers, one of them snatched an officer’s gun and tried to attack. Immediately Avni reacted and shot the guy – twice. He managed to dodge the bullet the first time but the second one hit him. The bullet that missed him hit the fifth trafficker and he too fell down. He groaned in pain. This was when she noticed a scar on his right hand, near the elbow. She knelt down to have a closer look. She could not believe her eyes.

“Av-v-avi di, you h-have always caught me red handed doing mis-chi-eeef” he stammered.

“No! No! No!  No! Noo!” she said to herself and cradled his head on her lap. He smiled at her.

“Why?”

Avni could hear the ambulance approaching.

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