Friday, February 13, 2015

A new beginning

‘You cannot even fathom how beautiful the world looks on that large screen. I had to pinch myself several times to remind that I was in Girjapur & not in Switzerland,'  Raju said flaunting his movie ticket.

The other village kids looked at him in admiration. He was the only kid in the class who had watched a movie in a multiplex in a nearby city.

‘Is it even better than Television?’ asked Gauri leaning towards the village lamppost.

‘Oh! You cannot even compare the two. You know during a song the music starts coming from everywhere. Frankly I cannot even explain how magnificent it is,’ replied Raju.

‘I will also ask my father to show me a movie in that multiplex on my birthday. You know my birthday is just two months away,’ Manohar said in delight.

‘Manohar, will you also take me along? I will do all your homework for the next two months,' Gauri requested with a gleam of hope in her eyes.

‘Why should I take you Gauri? Mohan has already agreed to do my homework, I will take him,' Manohar snapped.

‘You know my father was telling me that a movie theatre is getting constructed in the nearby village. It will be operational in the next six months. I will go there every month and watch a movie,'  Pushpa said.

‘How will you watch a movie alone?’ asked Gauri

‘Are you crazy? I will go there with my brothers and cousins. My uncle also lives in that village,'  replied Pushpa.

As the school bell rang, the kids hurried back to their classrooms.

Gauri kept thinking about the movie theatre the entire day. She was determined to watch a movie like her fellow mates in the next few months. As she walked back home, she was thinking about how her father would react after listening to her proposal.

‘Are you out of your mind? I will stop sending you to school if you propose such immodest things to me. Only men & boys can go to movie theatre. Women & girls do not go there,' Gauri’s father reprimanded her as she put butter on his chapatti.

‘But Pushpa is going there with her brothers and cousins,' Gauri wailed.

‘I do not care about Ramcharan & his daughter. All I know is that villagers respect me & I am not going to spoil it,’ Gauri’s father said with a stoical expression on his face.

In the next few months the movie theatre in the nearby village started working. Gauri would stand on the door of her house & observe the beaming faces of men, women & kids as they walked towards the theatre.

She would quietly see the animated discussions that people would have when they returned from the theatre. Some of them would sing songs. Some of them would imitate the hero. Some of them would recite dialogues. They all looked so happy!

Pushpa would often meet Gauri & show her images of the theatre on her mobile phone. She would sometimes record a small movie clip which Gauri would watch with utter delight.

A few years passed by & Gauri’s father decided to marry her off. He had found a suitable groom for her from the same village.

After a few months of marital life, Gauri asked her husband if he had been to the nearby theatre.

‘Oh yes! I am a big movie buff,' said her husband Vinod.

‘Vow! Can we also go and watch a movie together?’ Gauri asked

‘No, it is not possible. I only go there with my friends. If I go there with you, my friends will make fun of me. They will say that I have changed after marriage.’ replied Vinod.

Gauri stood there wondering about her husband’s & father's strange set of beliefs.

‘They never feel ashamed of themselves when I accompany them to paddocks for work. However, they feel chagrined at the very thought of going to the movie theatre with me.’

A few months later a political rally was organized in a nearby city where all the villagers were invited.

Most of the people from the village including Vinod & his brothers decided to attend it.

As Vinod left for the rally, he asked Gauri to go to the post office & collect a consignment which had arrived for him from the city.

The journey to the post office was long & weary. The fields were deserted as very few people were in the village on that day.

As Gauri stood in the queue on that hot & torrid day, she saw some young people scurrying to the nearby building. As she turned to see where they were heading, she saw a huge white building buzzing with motorbikes and swarming with street vendors. The building was decked with large colourful banners; one of the banners pasted on the roof of the building read ‘Anand Movie Theatre’.

Gauri instantly froze at the very sight of the theatre.

‘You cannot even fathom how beautiful the world looks on that large screen. I had to pinch myself several times to remind that I was in Girjapur & not in Switzerland.’

She felt like a little girl on that street, surrounded by nothing but the memories from her distant past.

A new movie show was going to start. The ticket window was about to be closed. Gauri immediately rushed to the window & bought a movie ticket.

The next two and a half hours of her life were like a dream come true. She laughed & cried & sang & danced.

In those two and a half hours she had found the courage to stand up for herself.

It was her new begining!

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