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Friday, 19 December 2014

Play dead but love knocks you down anyway

Love is the one thing that transcends time and space, this is perhaps the gist of the spectacular sci-fi Interstellar. This was the last movie I saw in the cinema last month when I had no breathing time literally between study material and work and travel. 

The movie tells the story of a space traveller, played by Matthew McConaughey, who travels to make an adventurous inter-galactic voyage, swinging back and forth in many dimensions, before he comes home to realise the truth that love is the only single-most powerful phenomenon that eventually finds a way to save the mankind/human species. McConaughey’s bond with his little daughter is portrayed beautifully.

When you are away from home, being an expat in another city, most often the books you read and the movies you may watch do all the talking. It reminds you of things you have forgotten while living a hamster-on-the-wheel life. This movie too caught my nostalgia and dragged it once again to a long time back to one school day morning back home in Delhi.

Morning yells

It was the most dreadful time of the day also because I could never eat in a hurry. ‘You are dead if I come back and the milk is not finished.' That was my mother's favourite yell-line every morning as we all got ready to leave home. I had to make sure the milk disappeared. It would be poured quietly in to the sink or Sandy, our dog’s bowl and sometimes even the money plant in the corner got a milky surprise. And when mother came back I would pretend as if the milk made me so full beyond comprehension. We are all best actors when a situation demands. And if caught, I thought, I had no option than roll over and play dead, like our pet dogs.

A short walk over the bridge got me to where the school bus came. Father walked me there. He never supported forced-feeding but never interrupted mother. It was probably their secret pact. Anyway we hatched a plan to escape the breakfast round of yells. I would tap on the table with the cutlery. A sign for him to announce - 'Let me just wrap it in the foil, you could always eat it while we walk to the bus.' Winks exchanged.

The middle of the bridge offered that moment of peace. This is where I could fling that foil full of my frown-factor up in the air. It always landed right in front of the beggar who sat under the bridge. He must have thought God dropped breakfast air parcels... and he must have also thought that God took off on public holidays.

It was during a Diwali that grandparents had come over. Grandma reminded mother to arrange food for the poor before the prayers. Caught in the festive spirit to volunteer I mentioned about the beggar. My big mouth! Careless blurts always got me into trouble.

Hearing session

I could hear the monsoon clouds gather momentum as mother came closer. 'Somebody is gonna get hurt today' like how Russel Peters would ape his father who was about to punish boy Russel. This was not a funny moment for me.

Mother wore that ‘you are unbelievable expression’ and asked if he was the beggar I was throwing the food every morning? In that moment, I wished if the earth split open I could just disappear… like how the last traces of the milk ran into the holes of the stainless steel sink. I still have no idea how she always knew what I was up to. Mothers, I tell you!

'And the milk?' She wanted to know everything now. I knew it was time to play dead like Sandy. But most often I would look down to let pass the hearing session. If she demanded that I look into her eyes! It was the most horrible penance of all.

Not interested in feuds or because of their secret pact, father would never be in the picture. And as long as it was only mother speaking, it was only her speaking. And when she finished she finished once and for all. 

The verdict

The verdict was simple. 'Tomorrow onwards we all wake up earlier and I will sit with you till you finish the food and walk you to the bus stand. And if you missed the bus I will drop you to school. And if you reached late you can clean the reception area like other latecomers who missed the morning assembly' - those words rumbled louder than the monsoon clouds in India. While every culprit played dead, including our pet dogs, I thought of the next big idea to get rid of the morning misery. 

I agreed to join boarding school. 

Optimism has kept me going till date. Times changed and with no one in particular to exchange winks I sometimes post them on my social media box.

Living away from home some days nostalgia strikes in batches… of those wonder years of childhood… those silly moments that seemed like between life and death… love of our beloveds… the lane that walks you to back home and oh-so-precious mother's food. I miss being home this Diwali and perhaps the new year too… This year even though I visited India few times, was badly tied up with commitments in another cities, and could barely spend anytime at home.

Mother is now emotional. Time to roll over and play dead.


With sister and grandma from one of those days when grandparents visited… Guess this was clicked in Agra … b4 spotting Tajmahal


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