Dictionary of Cinema Portmanteau (special edition with author’s notes and examples)
WORD OF THE DAY!
the habit of expressing joy towards your favourite person.
In India, the fans while watching a movie express their love towards the actors by clapping their hands, throwing coloured papers and ribbons towards the screen, whistling and yelling to the point no one in the audience hears the dialogue, especially on first day first show (fdfs).
being excessively nosy about other people’s affairs in the name of curiosity.
Waiting for the lights to go out at the new Thor movie so you could peep into your neighbour’s seat to assess what he bought for snacks and how much that must’ve cost him.
feeling good about being intrusive because you’re gaining knowledge.
Stealing your late uncle’s cinema scrapbook from the box of his college stuff that your grandma has meticulously protected for 24 years.
the position where you have to tread and duck at the same time.
Entering the cinema hall after the movie has started and now you have to find your seat without being a pain in the ass to everyone else who managed to be there on time.
an apology and a request said at the same time.
Usually uttered when you have to enter the tiny, minuscule space in between rows to find your seat.
The awkward, unwelcomed, accidental touching when you have to pass a row of occupied seats in the cinema hall to get to yours. It can be anything from knee to knee, knee to calf, stomping on feet, accidentally grabbing the person in the front seat, and your ass on another person’s face.
the common reaction given and received by people to one another all over the world.
Commonly expressed as eye rolls, soft yet aggressive tuts, constant staring when you struggle to find your seat in the dark as sweat begins to form at the nape of your neck. No pressure, at all. Take your own sweet time, love.
the addiction towards wanting what others have, especially food.
When you go back to the counter to buy a large popcorn, a coke along with a hot dog because you can’t un-smell the melting butter in the popcorn or un-see the mayonnaise and mustard decorating the hot dog. It everywhere around you, taking over your senses and your bank account.
when you have to choose something under pressure.
When you stand in the front of the ticket queue to choose a seat considering the best view, the tall head in the front seat, the long leg in the back seat, the noisy muncher to your right and the toilet renter to your left with at least seven people queuing behind you in the counter. Anytime now would be optimal.
the common habit of giving and receiving feedback which at times might get a bit aggressive.
When you politely ask your friend if she enjoyed the movie while walking out of the cinema and she talks about all the scenes you had in mind but with the opposite opinion while you ask yourself why you became friends with her in the first place.
wipes for tears, especially in cinema halls that is yet to be installed.
When the sad climax is fast approaching, and you have popcorn fingers with no clean tissues nearby, you need a crwipe to help not make the popcorn extra salty.
Ganesh hides his sigh under a cough when he catches my attention. People take his hand and nod their heads, firm and crisp, as they enter our…my house. White shirts and chudidhars trying to overcome their aloofness every time eye contact is made. Uma is sat cross-legged in the corner, her gaze fixed on the casket or beyond it where the serving plates are. Copper dabara sets with coffee filled till the brim are arranged on the plates, the scent of which fights for dominance against the pungency of the yellow chrysanthemums.. I’m sitting in my wheelchair in the centre of the room, right in front of the coffin and can occasionally take a whiff of the third scent, if I concentrated enough.
The sambhar rice from the hospital canteen should’ve dissolved fifteen hours ago. Uma must’ve contemplated taking the tumbler and pouring the hot contents down her throat. Her eyes are red from lack of sleep, not tears, and her mouth is covered by her saree so no one could catch her yawning. She’ll eventually be offered or if she’s lucky, be fed some coffee. Hold on till that, Uma. I understand.
The guests touch my feet as they enter and I look up to acknowledge them. Nobody touches the coffee. They won’t. Those coffees are going to run cold and later, Pooja will pour them down the sink. We’re not watching cricket, are we? To enjoy the game with a coffee?
“Chandra ma, do you want anything? Bathroom? Do you want another shawl?” I shake my head.
Their eyes flicker in and out of the conversation, to the coffee, to Pooja, resting on me and then back to their mundane conversations of what happened and whys? How do I really feel? I can see it in their eyes. Hungry for a chance to know what’s in my heart to put their minds at ease. Nagging with one question none of them has the guts to acknowledge, even in the privacy of their own thoughts, not even Ganesh or Uma.
A loud wail emerges from next to the coffin, stealing attention, turning chats into whispers and murmurs. Who is she? I wrack my brain to identify this sobbing bundle of plain white saree. Maybe she’s someone from his side of the family?
“How are you doing, Chandra ma?” The wailing woman says, kneeling beside me. Who is she? “Can you hear me, Chandra ma?”
I try to reply. But it’s unintelligible. My mouth is a cup of mushy peas. Pooja comes to my aid and explains to the woman, “She’s fine.” She replaces my “Who are you?” with “How are you?” Pooja did that on purpose. It’s rude to not remember someone, even ruder to ask them that. The woman goes away after saying something. “She’s your husband’s niece,” Pooja said after the woman left.
My husband. Late husband. No one will be yelling at me when I secretly check up on the latest score. Not anymore.
The late-night romantic walks. The overtime shifts he took to afford our movie night. Saving up to buy me that expensive saree. Most of all, never blaming me. Yes, he never blamed me for anything. His mum called me bad luck, after all, the money ran out like water down the drain after I entered his family. He never called me that. He called me his treasure.
There were times he meant it.
And then, the times he stamped and punched his treasure.
Why did you stay? I don’t know, Uma.
I did love him. I must’ve in the beginning. I must’ve…
But after that, it must’ve been pity. If not me, his wife, who else?
He wasn’t always like that. I know me, I would’ve left long ago if I was married to a bad person. It was a phase in our marriage. The time when there was a shift in his Venus like the astrologer said. It lasted for about three years.
He was sorry. He deeply regretted it. I know it, maybe that’s why his last words at the hospital to me were, “Thank you.” Thank you for staying.
“Ma, you need anything? Coffee? Water?” I look at Ganesh. He’s the most tired. He’s always been tired, ever since he grew old enough to distinguish right from wrong.
“Ma?” I shake my head.
I’d like to think of his anger as a demon that possessed him. He’s not a fan of cricket, I understand. But what I don’t is why he broke the TV when he caught me and Ganesh watching late-night cricket matches? Smashed it into bits. Has to be the work of the bad times and the planets messing up with his star. Sometimes once in a fortnight, or once in a month but definitely once every two months. He regrets, cries and begs every time.
Says he didn’t mean to.
Says he didn’t want to.
Says he never will again.
“Ma, it’s time.” Silence fills the room as Ganesh says it a bit louder for the words to get into my partially deaf ears.
I feel the teary eyes of everyone resting on me, as if to offer me comfort as Ganesh wheels me to the casket.
There he is. My husband. It feels as if he is going to sit up straight, pull off the cotton balls stuffed in his nostrils and free his toes from being tied together. He’s angry at us for putting him on display. The cold back of his hand on my cheek, followed by the warmth of blood rushing to my face. The familiarity manages to erupt a shudder in me. I’ve never been this close to him. Not in decades. He looks so peaceful wrapped up in white cloth, head to toe. His frown is still visible. I sigh, watching his hands as they’re wrapped too.
I wish those hands were soft and loving and not sudden. I wish I could talk about him without ‘buts’. I wish we could’ve watched a game together. I wish Uma and Ganesh’s grief wasn’t embedded with relief. I wish he would’ve felt to say ‘I love you’ as his last words to me.
I tap Ganesh’s hand and nod at him. He pulls me away from the casket. Ganesh and the other men get in position to lift the casket. The women gather around Uma. Few men join the procession as Ganesh leads them out of the house.
The ones with kids at home and work to attend to, touch my feet and nod at Uma as they leave the house. Pooja begins sweeping the place. Uma is finally forced to drink the cold coffee. She gulps it down.
One by one they all start to leave. Pooja starts mopping the floor. She takes away the coffees when everyone has left and pours them down the sink.
Uma sits on the floor next to me and places her head on my lap. I pat her head.
“Do you want anything, Ma?”
I point to my walking stick. She brings it and helps me up from my chair.
“Where are you going?”
I walk towards my room.
“You haven’t eaten all day. I’ll bring you something later?”
I reluctantly nod as I enter my room.
“Ma? Are you even listening to me?”
I shut the door and walk to the edge of the bed. I press the button and the TV light fills the room. I sit down and watch as India gears up for their second innings against New Zealand.
Hi! I'm Catherine, a 23-year-old writer from India. I currently live in Lancaster, England, studying a Creative Writing MA at Lancaster University. This is where I post all my published writings and unfiltered thoughts in the form of essays. Hope you find something you can enjoy!