Reality skiing on snow
Vishnu Talkies stands lost, like a piece from ancient times, among the crowd of towering buildings that have mushroomed in past few years when the world of India’s Capital chose to move upwards. There stands a curved metal hoarding upon a narrow opening which reaches to its narrow entrance gate. We walk into the street, past a pirated video store, a beauty parlor, a cheap restaurant where a huge potbellied man sat frying samosas at its door in a huge black pan bubbling with overused overheated dark oil. I take her hands in mine when we reach the Cinema’s iron grilled gate. On our left there is the ticket window, closed. On right, however, they are selling tickets, in black.
Inside, a grimly thin man waits at the balcony door, an Eveready Steel torch sewed around with frayed cotton dangles around his neck. With a haunting screech he pulls the door open, and ushers us in the dimly lit hall and focuses his torch upon our seats. I walk behind her, holding her by elbows, between the rows of aged wooden pushback chairs with coconut cushions, striped covers.
“Why were you staring at her?” She asks, when on the screen a young lady – her Vaseline-lacquered skin shines incredibly against her frazzled clothes – has just escaped her perpetrators, and has taken refugee in this similarly frazzled backyard of a temple. I strain my eyes. Pitch-dark, popcorn-punching-dark hall bars my vision. Time for rape.
“Who,” I ask groping for her face.
“That whore. Outside the video store.”
The scene has moved on, like life always does, to a brighter frame where an old man is holidaying with his family in an exotic country, Switzerland, or Ireland, or may be Holland, whatever… they all seem to have snowsnow and more snow, and castles and castles and more castles, and grass green until the eyes go, and people, all very good, always helping, ever tolerating you knocking at their doors in the middle of the night for shelter and happily granting the same, fuckers, where do such people exist? But then, a movie is not a movie if it’s all about what you see in your real life. It must be larger than life. Villains more villainous. Heroes more heroic. Beauties more beautiful. Life more peaceful. People more generous. And blah blah.
Well in this scene, the old man throws flakes of snow at the kids, they return-fire at him at once, and they all laugh in their heavy jackets and long hoods. Heartily. A little far away, this old man’s daughter skis with her husband, taking turns to skid ahead of the other, coltish rivalry, both laughing their hearts, eyes. Happiness it seems – as they sell it – to be a gift package of return tickets to these snowy hills and laughter and more laughter.
We should buy it once, “Let’s go to some place like this,” I stroke her palm, and on them plant an unusually soggy kiss. She blushes. I know. When she does, she lets her hands loose, almost like giving in. “And what would I tell to my folks?” One curt touch of reality and here goes all the dreams rolling down the hill. Large Reality skiing on even larger fantastic snow. What is large can not be made fit in what is small.