When I get back home at 11:00 in the night, my footsteps are measured, my body rigid and I plonk myself on the sofa which, much like my body, seems too soft out of a tiredness that will only go away after eight hours of sleep. I must be careful to not make noise; ma is awake, like always. If she is coming down with heavy steps, a noise that carries itself to the very core of my heart and makes me pout in fear, it means I am going to get an earful that night. I wait to hear the soft thud of the door of her bedroom which means that she’s finally going to sleep. But the thud is followed by a silence that is almost unbearable to ignore. It means she’s unhappy that I have come home late again.
When I get back home at 8:00, my brother is watching Kumkum Bhagya and having dinner. He sulks when I ask him to change the channel. Two years ago, if I had yanked the remote out of his hand and switched to Zee Cafe to watch The Big Bang Theory or Friends, he would have made a fuss. But he has learnt to like these shows now so he doesn’t mind that his sisters watch Zee Cafe. He laughs along with the laugh track and sometimes louder.
He annoys us repeatedly to know which episode it was that Raj, Leonard and Howard go to camp, get high and laugh like maniacs. In solidarity, I have begun to take an interest in Kumkum Bhagya. I am making guesses of all kinds — who is upset with whom in this episode and why? In last week’s episode the man got drunk, returned home with a doll that looked like his wife and came very close to making love to it.
Tonight my brother is watching Ishq, a Hindi movie from the 90’s. At the outset it’s the story of four people in love. Two boys and two girls. One for all and all for one. But only two of these people are rich, but they are not the couple in love and that’s why their parents must kill their poor lovers so the rich boy can marry the rich girl.
I watched it in Belgaum. My neighbours – J and P had watched it that afternoon and had come running to our house to tell us to go watch it. They told us what scenes to look out for – there was the pipe scene, they said, which made the whole theatre go berserk with madness. J said a little pee came out. P said it was not little.
They enacted a particularly macabre scene with such enthusiasm, my dad was convinced that we had to go watch the movie soon. This was the car scene. Juhi Chawla is pissed with Aamir Khan and wants him to die so she puts him in a car with no brakes. There is also a monkey in the car that drives at one point.
That night, we went to Nartaki. I kept looking at mom-dad’s faces in the darkness to make sure they were laughing. This is a sickness that I have even now. Every time I watch a movie that I have heard is great or really funny, I want to make sure that the people sitting next to me are laughing. If they aren’t, I get really worried. I wonder if they have understood the joke and so I sit prepared to explain the joke. If this doesn’t happen, I wonder if they are upset with me. Don’t watch movies with me, I am crazy like that.
But there, I didn’t have to worry. My parents were laughing. My mother’s cheeks were red, the color they become when she is also crying.
I liked Ishq for a whole lot of other reasons. There were two couples and I was curious to know how they functioned. My heart felt all kinds of full when I watched them dance around wearing clothes that matched in Mr Lova Lova. I decided that my favourite couple is Juhi-Aamir because their clothes were more color-coordinated. My sister picked Kajol-Ajay because she said theirs was true love.
The fact that the movie also explored the sexual tension between the couple not- in- love thrilled me to bits. In most other movies the couple not -in- love become brother-sister if they aren’t already brother- sister. This was one such movie. And to top it all, the rich kids had maniacal fathers who were interestingly, both widowers. One got laughed at a lot because he was dark, the other got laughed at a lot because he was bald.
God, I miss the 90’s. Things were simpler.
For once, nobody is fighting over what to watch. Tonight, my brother and I will sit and laugh at all the scenes I had laughed at all those years ago.