A few days ago, someone was, yet again, wondering out aloud how I “manage” to live alone. She referred back to one my earlier pieces in ‘Single in the City’ where I’d written about the not-so-magical phenomenon of getting back home at night, presumably after a hard day’s work, and switching on the front room light.
“It conjures up an image of such a pulling-at-the-heartstrings kind of loneliness,” she remarked.
“I think it’s cool,” I countered coolly. “At any rate, it wasn’t supposed to be poignant.”
“I don’t know how you can be so cavalier, I wouldn’t be able to handle it… loneliness… when my husband’s out of town, for instance, all my five dolls get into bed with me,” she almost sniffled.
Then, I thought about it. One big reason why I was so comfortable being by myself in the deep, dark nights is that I am sucker for cinema. There is nothing quite like a movie show at home, where I can do evening shows and night shows, back to back. One wall in my pad is stacked up with an enviable collection of DVDs/VCDs that I have carefully built up over the years — and I always ensure that supply far outstrips demand: at any given point in time, there are at least
25 DVDs/VCDs that haven’t debuted on the small screen inside in my bedroom.
Let me give you a vignette. I didn’t watch Citizen Kane for a long time because I was cagey about watching a 40s show in the 3rd millennium. It was part of my collection because I thought it was fashionable to own a film that’s always on the every Best 10 Movies Of All Times list (I bought it for Rs 80 from Palika Bazar, whereas a friend of mine had to order it from amazon.com and paid a hefty price for it.)
When I finally did watch it on a summer night in the 3rd millennium, all by myself, I had one of the best times of my life.
Most of my supply’s starring cast comes from Palika Bazar that has the most amazing titles hidden in its dingy lanes. The extras (quite a number of them, come to think of it) come from the regular shops (that offer ‘non-pirated’ versions).
Even if I’m at a convenience store — like, say, 24/7 — I see myself gravitating towards the DVDs/VCDs section. There have been times when I’ve totally forgotten to get what I had gone out shopping for (bread, butter, eggs, cornflakes, milk etc) and come back home instead with an armload of DVDs/VCDs (God help me if there are one of the those delicious sales on, the ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ types — I go berserk. I then have to go without breakfast the morning after.)
A few weeks ago, when I was going to see my niece for the first time, I was at a loss over what I should get for her.
I was filling gas at one of the petrol pumps, when I noticed an In & Out outlet parked right next door. I dashed in and immediately sought out the DVDs/VCDs section and started thumbing through the stock on the shelves.
It was only when I realised that I was running late and that had to get something for the newborn that I scrounged around the baby’s section and picked up heaps of diaper packs. (“Get us more of those,” my brother called to demand. “Makes so much more sense than getting gold trinkets.” “Er, I wasn’t even thinking gold trinkets,” I started feebly. “Oh, whatever,” he said, “just spend that much money on diapers then.”)
In the nocturnal pattern of my life, the partying, the wining, the dining, the long drives are all fine — they’re part of the big picture.
But the times I really look forward to are those nights when I can curl up in bed — not with a book, though The French Lieutenant’s Woman is always by my bedside — remote control in hand, and savour the sights and sounds of the movies.