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Of Maa and Her Movies

Of Maa, the silver screen and beyond, of angsty evening musings and of achingly sweet yet restless thoughts. Does this world deserve to translate her countless unspoken words and passing feelings? Read more to find out.


I was among those eager to leave my house and native town – the first moment an opportunity presented itself. I wanted to flee – from all the familial ties that were becoming too difficult to not scream at the face of, for all the friendships that were so visibly frayed beyond repair, from the lovers who remained little more than crumpled sheets on the bed and from everything I could never forgive myself for not becoming. But running away from Kolkata to Delhi, albeit under the garb of a prestigious university degree pursuit meant also leaving behind and staying away from Maa – someone whose physical absence you cannot get used to and hence you have to make yourself get used to. 

On days when the Delhi heat gets too much to bear and the dusty pollution beats against the eyes that struggle to look up at the sky; on days when the cost of living in this city becomes synonymous with making payments with broken dreams; on days when the gas finishes without warning and even all the money in your bank account cannot buy your way out of the masala of yearning to return to places you can’t put a finger on – on these days I sit with my laptop and watch movies that remind me of Maa. 

Sunday afternoons, the sunshine brocade on the diwan next to the vaulting windows would see propped up legs and a forty-something woman yawning her way into coaxing her a little-more-than-irritated son into playing a DVD, because she is in the mood for ‘something’. Minutes are lost reading titles off DVD cases that are begging and dying to be watched – for once – only to be met with the same response of “not today” before finally leading to the moment of settling on either of the three movies on which Dad would comment during the title sequence – “They should credit your mother just for the sheer number of times she has watched this”. The comment would be met with a disapproving hiss and snarl – just before three hours proceeded to melt in the face of swooning eyes and nimble feet swaying to beats of lyricism. 

Maa watches Silsila, because somewhere deep inside her she still wishes they had the money to realise her dream of honeymooning in Kashmir – amidst fire-tinted fallen chinars. The roses Amit sends Chandni make her blush for gestures as brimming with passion but also in her heart she twitches – for the dream of getting offered a carnation, her personal favourite, could hardly be afforded by lovers with pennies in their kurtas during her college days. She holds her pillow tighter and widens her smirk when Shobha challenges her claim over Amit – because in her body she has the still-burning fires of a domestic war that will last for a few more years to come. 

Maa watches Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge with the same dreamy-eyed wonder with which she saw the snows of Europe for the first time on the big screen. She still maintains her staunch desire to leave the country only once – and flee to the valleys of Saanen just to see rolling plains decked in green and towering mountain spires in robes of white. I think she thinks there is in those valleys, a secret melody that will set to tune the torn tanpura strings from the days prior to her saying yes to marrying a man she had only seen thrice. 

Maa watches Abohoman with the same quizzical, rolling eyes and the guttural sighs. She keeps asking me what I make of the ending, just this last time – but she knows that unlike cinema, life is more than just capturing a series of fleeting moments. It is about the sophistication she tries to buy with her wardrobe full of muted, monochrome tussar sarees and the mid-length blouse pieces – to wear the on body she knows only to hate. She is about to promise herself that she will read Nati Binodini’s autobiography this time around – all the while braiding her hair beside the mirror and telling Baba about the tea that tasted like hot water. 

In the nights, when she lies awake munching on the paan masala she promises she will quit the next day, musing over choices she hates as much as she finds herself compelled to make them again, cursing the universe for dealing with the burden of a son who just suddenly sprung one day that he was gay – I imagine her brain to think if anyone will ever make a film or write a poem on her. Under the star-clad sky, hidden away by the ceiling with chipping paint – she is my mother alright but very much a woman lost in translation, awaiting a poet to tell her story

Featured Image Credits: Art Ranked

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Anwesh Banerjee

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Author

Nerdiest drama queen in town with a penchant for love poetry and pork baos.