The Movie Buff - Short Story on a Queer Obsession - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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The Movie Buff - Short Story on a Queer Obsession

This is the story of a girl who is obsessed with the world of cinema.

Introduction to a complex mind

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“Are you completely mad!” yelled her mother over the faulty telephone line. The crackle of the bad connection coupled with her mother’s sharp recrimination pierced the ears. Violently angry at her husband’s snitching and her mom’s lack of understanding she abruptly hung up the phone and stormed out of her apartment to cool herself with a few rounds of brisk walk.

Once again, her husband had fallen asleep during a movie; the following events involved her pinching him extremely hard, him screaming at her and she trying to explain the irritation that his complete disregard for shared time causes. After a lot of discussions and tears, an understanding seemed to have been reached, but then he calls her mother and tells on her. What is he? A child of ten?

The world of cinema has always been a close familiar since she was a young girl. Her parents encouraged a large forum of world cinema at home. From Tapan Sinha to Akira Kurosawa, Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy to Bergman’s Winter Light, she had a voracious mind for films ranging across various genres and styles. Chaplin’s globe dance from The Great Dictator made her swing and sway and she kept calling her mom, ‘Mother’ with a creepy turn of the throat after watching Psycho for the first time. Her involvement with the films she saw and the way she perceived them were quite intense leading to comical caricatures and dialogue deliveries. Long discussions and arguments with her mother after each film was a treat that she missed after moving to a different city on account of marriage and work.

The Cocoon Disposition

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The unabashed requirement of watching at least one film every day quite often kept her from social amalgamations of fun and normalcy. As a result she had a very limited list of friends.

So her close acquaintances were movies, with them she could slip into different modes of reality morphed into fantastical elements of imagination.

Her higher regard for figures on screens rather than actual human interactions kept her away in a safe cocoon of cinematic interpretations and imaginative reflections.

She sometimes liked to watch movie adaptations of written works and discuss the pitfalls or positive interpretations that the film versions explored.

The fascination however was not shared by most of her associates, including her husband. But that did not keep her from trying and sometimes forcing him to watch certain films that impressed her a great deal.

Quite often, the poor man was subject to these unnecessary obligations after a hard day’s work. Where he would like to kick back with a fun video game, wife dearest would reprimand his hobbies and bore him down with a black and white classic. He would sometimes retaliate, at other times give in and try to wrap his mind around Wild Strawberries’ dream sequences or Rope’s interpretation of murder as means of exhibiting dominance. Many a times, the wife would find him dosing away or tinkering with his phone. This would bring upon a host of rageful cursing or a tug of the hair to wake him.

Once, an important official chat kept him busy during the entire span of Casablanca. The next morning a desperate hunt for his cellphone ended with its discovery in the depths of the commode. Furious at her stark madness he yelled incessantly, only to receive cool justifications in favour of her action and the necessity of desperate measures when words don't work.

The Pygmalion Ultimatum

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Similar incidents continued, like hiding his PSP or dosing him with caffeine at an attempt to keep him awake through an entire film. He would get frustrated and angry, but her sorry face or odd explanations always mellowed him down to resignation.

Uncanny and quite unapproachable was this mindset and nobody could fathom the unreasonable pushing and prodding to simply watch films.

Her mother gradually cooled down after the latest altercation and called her to try and explain the abnormality of her actions. But she was beyond comprehension. She argued that without the input of good films, relationships don’t progress, and bonds are not formed. Moreover, people remain unimaginative and boring, leading to useless hours of mind-numbing social media. Her mother had no words in reply to such odd justifications and crazy logic.

Her mind however was still quite vengeful from her husband’s betrayal. Something had to be done. Her extent of going bonkers over this obsessive implementation to influence her husband’s habits had to be stretched further. He would have to realize that her insistence on sharing movie time with each other is a necessity and not just a choice. The sensitivities and complexities of the human psyche are best deciphered by means of books and films. If one does not watch films or read good literature, one doesn’t realize the essence of love, life and intricate details of the heart and mind.

One night, after a long time of hankering, he finally agreed to watch one of her favourites over a nice dinner of pork chops. Every year she watched this film, at least once and this time she was glad to experience the laughs and the tears with her better-half. But as luck may have it, an impromptu office meet and a two hour delay brought him home exhausted and irritable. This completely put her on edge and the brain worms began jiggling about influencing her to take obnoxiously rigid steps.

The lone pork chops were consumed in silence without the accompaniment of Higgins and Ms. Doolittle as had been initially planned.

Next morning, the husband woke up to find himself locked in the bedroom. No amount of yelling and pleading convinced her to free him. On the bedside table lay a sheet of paper with a list of films to watch printed out along with a set of pictures for encouragement. A short note at the end of the page conditioned his release in exchange for going through the entire list. He was mad at her, completely enraged. ‘Don’t back down,’ he told himself. But as the hours of detention passed, he realized the only way to escape this predicament was to play along. He looked at the first title on the list and surfed his way to the respective site.

A small door cut out at the bottom of the large chestnut one was used for food services. Large bowls of popcorn, soda and other various condiments and dips along with curly fries and fried nuggets were served to make the process less prison-like.

The hapless situation had to be dealt with in order for him to be released for every day life including work and other engagements. He began with the classics, which were definitely not as bad as he had anticipated. Phones had been cleverly removed preventing any possible distractions. The list was followed by a short but tricky pop quiz.

By the end of the third film, an invisible enabler seemed to have grasped his mind and the remote operating hand. The weight of the job at hand seemed to slowly dissipate replaced by a budding interest in this new world of motion picture.

Two days of binging on classics and alternative cinema led to a profound change in ideas and a sort of addictive commencement of the silver screen drug.

Months passed and the tables were turned. So deep ran the new-found infatuation, that it was now she who had to avoid situations that called for watching films. He now wanted to spend all the spare time in front of the television followed by heated discussions and analysis.

One morning after a tiring night of three intense screenings back to back, she woke up early to find him peacefully lost in slumber.

A look towards the large shiny screen, a sudden enraged mind and down went the set, out of the window and into the deep lake down below.

© 2019 Tiyasha Maitra