Girlfriends

Too often I have had girlfriends in my past I couldn’t stand to be around. They were all kinds of dreadful and the only defence I had against them was to be mean to them or ignore them completely. I just wish I had done something I have learnt to do only recently– Laugh and laugh loudly. There were so many of them. I resisted, fought, cried, got insecure, pitied myself and kept doing it repeatedly until they disappeared from my life. Too much was at stake then. I was trying to balance my new found feminism with going gaga over a man I loved whose approval I strongly sought. Things fell apart– I slapped one of his friends because he was a sexist hog and spent months crying over it. Now I look back and laugh because all it took was one tight slap and he was gone from my life.

The cooking girlfriend made my life difficult because she cooked and believed all women should cook. She pampered all the men around, including the love of my life, whom I didn’t mollycoddle usually but when I saw her doing it, I got sucked into the madness and pampered him crazy. Yes, I was insecure. No, I don’t feel stupid now because I am convinced I had to cross all of that to stand here and laugh.

I am a different person now which doesn’t mean I am less insecure about stuff. I just wish I hadn’t spent months fussing over my reactions to each of these shitheads. When I look back at the women I fought with, I miss them. Because minus feminism is important, I had a nice time with them. I was so busy trying to give them gyaan about how they should instead live their lives, I didn’t realise how nicely they would fit into my stories. I could have written then, when my anger was less funny and my writing, forceful and lame yet ambitious in a way it is too scared to be now.

I wish I was more invested in their lives and how they came to think the way they did. Despite all the irritation they harboured for me, which would come out only in moments, they were nice to me in a motherly yet real way. One of these women I am in touch with now is married and has just given birth to a boy. Around 8 months ago over a fury of whats app chats, she told me she didn’t want the baby. She was confused. She thought it was too early but was too scared to tell her husband. The final verdict came from her mother who convinced her that a year into the marriage is not too early to have a baby and that in some cases; it is the perfect time, especially if you have been living abroad.

This got me thinking of the many things I had chosen to ignore over my squabbles with her. Even so, I am not in a very forgiving place right now. I just wonder what she is doing now, at this moment. Feeding the baby or trying to shut it up because it has been howling all day.

Then there was another bored housewife up in arms against the F word, whom I laughed at 3 months ago on Facebook. That was fun but I felt really bad later because she was paavam and struggling with marriage issues, you know like spellings and stuff. Not fun.

I am listening to the soundtrack of Amelie now and wondering whom to think of fondly while I smile shyly. Not that there are many. It’s just that I want love to be perfect only in these moments — when I am listening to a nice song and don’t have to fret over whom to think of. This is the only time where Polygamy = 0, Monogamy =1.

Amélie

Amelie brings back some fond memories from a time that I don’t really want to remember. My high school was a series of disaster after disaster, embarrassment after embarrassment so I’m not particularly thrilled that some bits of happy events that occurred around this time also forcibly bring back a sudden tightening around the chest area and oodles of goofy smiles.

Even so, Amelie marks a huge coming of age moment for me. Until then, I never really watched movies. I sat through them waiting for a moment to take home, and usually these moments were romantic oscillations between the hero and heroine. I would later relive these moments with superb memory. With Amelie I felt compelled to pay attention; to details, to colours, and because it was my first foreign language movie, to dialogues and subtitles.

Late afternoons during holidays at home were woozy. Everybody would be asleep and I would have just woken up, hungry and aimlessly walking. On one such woozy afternoon I caught Amelie when I was lazily flipping through TV channels. I am an impatient buffoon when it comes to waiting to watch something. So if I stop flipping through channels and decide to abandon the remote control I must have been crazy hooked. And because this decision of pressing the next button has to be taken in under a second, I was surprised at what made me stop.

The movie had already started and Amelie was looking for Dominique Bredoteau. The name baffled me, the colours thrilled me and the language confused me. And so I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling all these things at once and I found myself enjoying a movie in a language I had never heard before and despite the fact that it lacked traditional romantic oscillations I never once complained.

Amelie inaugurated in me, an interest for unknown forms and unknown cities. I liked the narrator who would come in and go everytime a character was introduced. I liked that I didn’t have to know their names and that the movie was giving each of these characters – important or not – ample time to be introduced by the narrator – what they liked doing, what they didn’t. I am curious about shit like that.

Amelie is not simple, she is not your girl next door, she is not cheerful and she is definitely not a do- gooder. Amelie is just curious. And she does what she does to see if they will come out as brilliantly as they did in her head.  Even lifeless characters in the movie seem haunting, like the gnome, like the fruits and vegetables, like the dead roast chicken, like the streets of Paris, like Lady Di’s pictures in newspapers too.

And now, after all these years of watching some seriously psycho stuff, I still love Amelie. Some kind of exciting ritual that I look forward to once in three months has been initiated. I look for tiny opportunities to screen this movie for students, watch it with my sister over and over again, and watch it every time it plays on world movies. I never tire of watching this movie. Along with such loyalties I also resist an immediate urge to smack people in the head when they say that the movie is boring.

Everytime I watch this movie I also start wondering if there are more movies like Amelie that I can accidently ‘find’ on lazy afternoons. Anyway, my sister’s fondness for the movie has taken a whole different angle. She now wants to name her child Dominique Bredoteau. And I want to have a child just so I can name it Dominique Bredoteau.