I put the Rs 500 on the counter and said,” One ticket, Bourne Ultimatum, front stall”. The man took the money and asked for the change. I pushed the Rs 100 note with two twenty rupees ones. “Only one?” he inquired pushing back the Rs 500 note.
“Yes” I answered.
She was clad in a grey uniform: the guard. The lady took hold my bag asked ” Afain matra?” (Only you?) almost at the same time. There used to be another lady there, she probably knew me by face because of the FSA. This was a new one so the question took me by surprise. It wasn’t the first time I had been to the cinema alone but it surely was the first time any stranger asked such a question to me.
I smiled back in surprise replying “Yes”. It was D15: my seat number. The hall looked empty so I sat one row behind my allocated seat. More people started entering the hall, it was a crowd now. Every time any person entered through the door I used to worry if it were their seat I was occupying. Luckily no one came to my row. One guy, a middle aged man rather sat one seat away to my left with his friend. The right side was entirely empty. The film began. I heaved a sigh of relief. Empty halls meant “No one to prick you with needles” I laughed at the crazy thought and sat back to enjoy the show as suggested in the big screen.
Jason Bourne was in Moscow, being chased by the police. Someone walked past me blocking the view.
“Anyone beside you?” the male voice asked.
I just moved my head right to left indicating a “No” in the darkness.
“Hey are you dumb? Can I sit beside you?” The voice asked again.
“First I am not dumb. And I think I just told you there was no one. There are plenty of empty seats to the right so you could sit in anyone of them. It’s not my Dad’s theatre!”
“You didn’t say anything. Anyways I chose to sit beside you. You’re right in the middle. So that will give me a better view.”
“Whatever” I said removing my backpack from the seat and feeling really angry at being disturbed.
“Extremely.” I retorted not caring who I was talking too.
“Great. Why not just shut up and watch the movie?”
Silence. The movie progressed. The reporter makes a real stupid mistake and gets killed.
“How stupid!” the voice comments.”Journalists. They think they know everything but they don’t! So much for acting extra smart.”
Silence again. Gun shots, chases, Italy, Waterloo station, Blackburry, Pam, Neil,Madrid ……..INTERMISSION.
The lights are on. The unfamiliar face turns to me and asks “Why alone?”
“Why? Is it a problem to you?” I didn’t want to answer that AGAIN.
“No, I didn’t know people came to watch movies alone.”
“Oh yeah, you didn’t. Tell me who you have come with then ?”
“I meant didn’t know anyone other than me went to watch movies alone.”
“Now you do.” I replied and started to fiddle with my cell phone. Why converse with this “Jo payo Tehi”?
“I recently broke up.” The guy started to say.
“God, not another Tragedy King woes!” I screamed inside my head. “How come they find me to talk to from all the 6 billion people in the globe??”
I wanted to make a face express my disinterest with a looong “Hyaaaaaaaaaaaa” but I did just the opposite. Put on a kind mask (how can I be rude to a stranger?) and asked “Any thing you want to talk about? Talking to a ‘stranger’ helps!” Damnnnnnnnnnnnn my mouth.
“She lied to me, about everything.”
I had to do something to entertain myself so I said,” Well, worry not I broke up just yesterday too!”
“Why was that?” he seemed to be genuinely interested!
Now “she” had lied to him. What should I do?
“Well, I made an extremely stupid mistake and of course admitted to it too. Too much of truth.” I smiled back sadly. Now, H n J didn’t term me UDQ for nothing! LOL
” So you came to watch the movie hoping that this violence would help you calm your nerves?” That God! He did not ask of the ‘stupid mistake’.
“Yup.Bourne beats up a dozen of guys and I feel that I have vented out my anger too!”
“The exact reason, I’m here too!! By the way, I am Akash.” He extended his right hand to me.
“I am Zahra.” I shook his hands.
“It’s not a Nepali name, is it?”
“Nope. It’s Arabic. It means “Boldness”. Yours is Sanskrit, isn’t it?”
“It’s a nice name. Are you a Maoist or something to hate Sanskrit?”
“Nah. Just sad I guess…Hungry?”
“Why should I be?”
“I’ll get some coffee and popcorn then.” He stood up to leave.
“Don’t get me anything, I won’t eat it.”
“Did I say I would get it for you?” he yelled from the door with a laugh.
I was so embarrassed that I promised not to talk with him anymore. So,took my bag and shifted to the E14 on my left.
The Psycho came back to sit right next to me again.
“You were sitting on that seat.” I pointed to the empty seat to his right.
“I was sitting beside you, isn’t it?”
“It was that seat nevertheless.”
“Who cares? Or is your ex joining you?” he started to laugh and brought a cup right in front of my face saying “Here take your coffee.”
That was it. I raised my head from the phone and said it in the sternest voice possible “No thank you. I don’t drink coffee.”
“What kind of person doesn’t drink coffee?” He was looking at me as though I’d said “I don’t breathe!”
“The Tragedy Queen types? It reminds you of the coffee dates??” He started to laugh.
This person was acting creepier by the moment. I mean, what kind of stranger talks that way. Just saying whatever crap that came in his head??
“So what if it reminds? I don’t want a coffee poisoned by a Tragedy King either.” I retorted having a hard time forming a sentence amidst the realization that it was a ridiculous conversation!!
“Worry not .The effect of poison is neutralized if a Tragedy Queen is having it!” Ha..ha ha..He had the last laugh AGAIN.
“What’s your problem Akashji? Are you desperate for a company or something?”
“First of all it’s Akash only. And I am not desperate for company, I think I already have a company to be desperate!” ha ha ha
“Look. I don’t usually interact with people I’m not concerned with. So I don’t see any reason to continue this conversation. Nice talking to you. Please watch the movie in SILENCE.”
“Why are you girls always so scared of even talking? I mean I thought girls like you who came to cinemas alone were better than that! Just live the moment, have this coffee and enjoy the show in SILENCE of course.” He put the coffee in my hand.
This was insane I concluded, faced him and replied “First don’t try to patronize me with your perception of girls. It is not about what kind of girl I am, I simply don’t want to engage in a pointless conversation. I came here as I was just done with one guy so I don’t want another meddling with my mental peace AGAIN. Understand this language dude?”
“Better than you think! Remember my love wounds are fresh too. Why does that guy have to be in your mind even now? Live the moment. Take this coffee and you’ll feel better.”
I gave up. “Okay there’s no guy. I was sick of answering “Alone at the cinema?” to everyone here.
“I got no “Fresh wounds” either!” ha ha ha
The show started. Except some extra close shots when Bourne’s fighting in Morocco everything was great. I felt as if I wasn’t alone at the cinema with the stranger pumping his fists in the air and saying “Yeah” at every punch Bourne throws at the villians or when I myself kept saying”nice” da Sailen style in the chases. The movie was over. I waved a bye to the Stranger and went to the washroom, washed my face and planned to walk back home.
I was at the gate when someone tapped on my shoulder. The stranger again.
“Where do you live?” he asked.
“Look, the movie is already over. I mean we met while watching the movie. Its over now so nice meeting you.”
“That isn’t a place’s name, is it?”
“Too much thinking again! Or is your Man coming to pick you up? ” He made a face.
“Man, my foot. Minbhawan.”
“I live in Tinkune.”
“I don’t believe that. Anyways I plan to walk back home.”
“I decide to accompany you then!”
“I like to walk, that’s why?”
“Not before I told you I was walking! For heaven’s sake you are on a bike, do you think I am blind?”
“Which fool wants to walk alone?”
“I want to accompany a fool nevertheless. Why not let me give you a ride? ”
“No thanks. What are guys like you called flirts?”
“No, they are called Friendly Folks.”
“Good. I despise flirts. Now don’t delay my walk.”
“So, when do we meet again?”
“When the next Bourne movie is released!” I replied.
“Bye Zahra,” he said re-starting his bike.
“Well, my name is not Zahra.” I told him with a sly smile.
Man, the look on his face was worth looking at. Finally, I had the LAST LAUGH. Ha ha ha ha and I am still laughing!!