Long long before the evil world of websites came into our perverse lives, there was imagination. And along with imagination, there were films.
Now, I don’t know how many of you were allowed to watch films by parents at home, but they were strict no-no. To put it in relative terms, I might have as well asked my folks to get me some cocaine during Parents Meet.
And so I got whatever bit of film music from Superhit Muqabla, Chitrahaar, and the numero uno way to learn new Hindi film songs – Weddings.
You can’t really shut off the sounds coming from a loudspeaker that measures 4.7 on the Ritcher scale. I heard the songs, memorized the lyrics, and began to hum the tune – in my head, of course.
When the song was memorized, it would be used in underground antaksharis back at school. Now that I think of it, my idea of cinema was three-ponged. I would listen to the songs and learn them, would see posters on the roads for the visuals, and listen to the stories from friends for the narrative.
(Wow! That’s a deep, you’re-not-one-but-three sort of complicated Vedanta concept.)
Using all the three senses together, I created a mental picture of films in my mind (since I had never been to a cinema, and one among the four films I had watched included Hatim Tai).
Over the years, the situation loosened up a fair bit, and I could sneak in glances from here and there – friends’ houses, shops, TV when psychotic family members were around, etc.
And yet, I never understood anything about the birds and the bees.
And let’s face it, films do not do a very good job at revealing stuff to children, either.
Back then, conjugation was enacted by a 5 minute song in Ramoji Film City, followed by a close-up shot of a baby poster in the room. Then, there were the raunchy ones where Raveena Tandon would gyrate in a yellow saree, giving birth to a million sinful thoughts.
Or there would be the pseudo-conjugation scenes were actors would rub noses, breathe into each other’s cheeks, and if you were Balakrishna – do Suryanamaskar on the heroine’s navel.
Which created a disturbingly confusing image in a child’s mind.
What really happens there? I mean, I understand there’s some touching and rubbing involved, but what do I do if there’s no song playing in the background? And what if it doesn’t rain?
Being among the few people who engaged in the occult, illegal act of reading books, I gathered some information from that source too. But how many truths of life can one learn from Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew? The raunchiest those books would allow themselves to get, was a passionate kiss at the end of a story.
All of this resulted in a gigantic, Namita-sized confusion in my head. And I spent much of the Meditation sessions cutting the Gordian knot – fixing pieces of the jigsaw by my creativity. Creating narratives that made the picture clearer, trying to understand the truths of life. And then standing up, bowing down, and getting the fuck out of the hall when my head was tapped on.
This magical phase of endless possibilities was brutally shattered one night in Sixth Standard. It happened after everyone had been put to bed, the lights had been switched off, and the teachers had left. As we lay awake in bed, listen to a senior tell us of the amazing things he had learnt.
“The man puts his No.1 Place in the woman’s No.1 Place,” he said.
Long after he had gone back to his bed and to sleep, my friend (a man who continually pushes the limits of human perversion to this day) and I stayed up awake.
We discussed and critiqued the outlandish theory that had been suggested to us a few hours ago.
‘Do you think it is possible?’
‘No, eee. I think he’s gassing.’
‘Yeah. Children happen because men tie Mangalsutra around the woman’s neck.’
I thought about it for a while. It made perfect sense. But…
‘What about Muslims?’
‘They have that thing no? Tabeez? You have not seen Azharuddin, aa?’
‘And what about Christians?’
‘They have Cross, na?’
‘Oh yeah…but how do you know all this?’
‘I asked my mother, she told me.’
That sealed it for me. ‘Yeah, you’re right, eee. He is simply gassing.’
We turned, covered our blankets, and went to sleep.