Cinema

Smita_mmI think of cinema and of images that move and of those which don’t. Thinking of a torn sari clad woman at the hearth under the sky. Blowing her life into the fire that refuses to quickly send the chapatis in the daughter’s plate lying in front of the little imp in a blackened frock with mickey mouse prints hidden beneath layers of dried mud, dried pulse stains and in places with remnants of coal lozenges that she played among since the yellow morning as the unyielding, sick sun rose today. The mother looks perturbed as the girl’s father is likely to come back from the town empty-handed. The brown of her dress reveals the dark of her blemish free dark face where a little black dot finds a neat spot to the right of the lower lip. She swears at the waiting girl who has a running nose while balancing the other infant lying carefree in the lap and positions her breasts for the tongue of the hidden tiny creature. She streamlines the fuel and makes it cross the bottleneck of the mud house of the hearth into flames as the flour ball kept in the wooden bowl to her side diminishes in size. Her hands twist over the round chapati on the hot plate till it steams off hot puff through the orifices left open in the body of the flat circle. A sudden stream of this puff aims at her fingers with the worn out silver ring and in disgust she utters ‘damn it’ while the wrinkle on the forehead too artificial for her vibrant visage appears to soon make way for the droplets of sweat that emerge from the crevices. An earthen pot falls behind her wooden seat and the water flowing out of it drenches the clay floor. Clogs stick to the protruding tiny feet of the infant in the lap. As the toddler tries getting rid of the glue with its other toe, the splutter muddies the floor further and spreads to the other toe making for a pair of muddy toes. Passes from the scene a village elder who pauses and asks the girl with the plate about her father while trying hard to get a glimpse of the woman’s face. The girl is too dumb to answer that. One end of the brown cloth gets clipped between the woman’s canines and she looks away. Whispering from that hidden angle to the child “Tell Uncle he is in the town and will be back soon”, she directs her to him. The child leaves the plate and walks briskly towards the man. Tries to pull down the red and white balloon that he has bought for his grand-daughter who is sitting with a plate in a similar kitchen elsewhere in the village. The old man raises his hand so that the balloon goes higher up in the air, beyond the girl’s leaps and bounds. The woman after a while yells out her name “Lalli” only to realize that Lalli isn’t around and two of those expressive eyes etched above whiskers and below the turban are still busy hunting for a glimpse. Lalli’s mother blushes and keeps the chapatis going as they were.

27 thoughts on “Cinema

  1. This is what I strongly believe in: we don’t need Katherine Boo to paint the shades of poverty. A post like this paints the scourge in its microscopic glory, a written 70 mm. I liked the subplot of leching.

    1. Behind The Beautiful Forevers is a book that has been mentioned to me more than once of late…The comment makes me want to read it. Uma, I think you got exactly what was in my head while writing this. Feels good to know that the writing communicated something with some success atleast!!

      Thanks!

  2. A very poetic and beautifully written scene. I can really see if for my eyes. All the colours, the saris, the chapati, the woman, the grandfather and the child. Simply wonderful.

    1. Thanks for the appreciation. I was looking for some reflection from you on the limitations of both a. the literal documentation and that of b. photographic documentation of social reality. Hope to see it on your blog sometime!

      Regards!

      1. I think you know were I stand. Yes, I think both literal documentation photographic documentation of social reality may have some limitations, that prose and poetry may be able to reveal. While on the other hand prose and poetry may be limited in the way it factually documents social reality. For me the best combination is a function of both brain and heart so to speak, and then it doesn’t really matter how you classify the documentation.

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