Tag Archive | memories

Movie reminiscences

I have a horrible memory for the plots of novels and films. I forget all of it soon enough and only recall the emotions and thoughts a particular work inspired in me.  Or other completely irrelevant things, like how I wrote a high school paper on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. With some works, I eventually remember most of the plot if I get a lot of exposure to it, but the details and sub-plots can remain a haze. This allows me to re-read books or re-watch films and still have no idea what will happen. Sometimes I may only remember that the main character dies or gets married, but how it came about I will have forgotten. What do I remember then?

I remember that the first movie I went to see at a cinema was Lion King. The cinema was located a short, leafy, tree-lined walk from our house. The movie left so powerful an impression on me that when it ended, I asked my mother if I could run home ahead of them. I wanted to be alone with my emotions. In this, I have not changed at all, but the world has. In my teens, we still had a cinema where you could walk out of the theatre into the darkness of the night and enjoy a walk home through quiet side-streets. Now, cinemas have been moved to shopping centres. It is extremely jarring to walk out of the cinema and into the shopping centre, especially when you are miles away from the mood of the mall. I don’t go to cinemas any more, unless it is to watch something casual more or less socially. Good films I watch alone. Then I can become as immersed as I naturally would want to be and not return to the real world until I’m ready.


My other most memorable film experience is Le Notti di Cabiria. It is directed by Fellini, features the same actress who plays in the more famous La Strada and was released in 1957. I love the joy of living, the life force that I sense in all these Italian film characters. Il Cielo Cade (2000) was the first Italian movie I saw. It was on TV and I was browsing and bored. That same Italian spiritedness glued me to the screen, fascinated me so much I simply had to try more Italian films. I have by now completely forgotten what Il Cielo Cade was all about – it’s been 10 years – but I plan on re-watching it soon to see if the thing that fascinated me first is still there now that I’ve seen more of Italian cinema. While this movie might have sparked my interest in Italian films, Le Notti di Cabiria ended up being my most complete, perfect film experience.

It drew me in to the point all the world disappeared. At one point, I felt myself fusing with Cabiria, experiencing the same emotions she did. This culminated in us crying identically. I didn’t mean to copy her crying, but when she was fooled yet again, I kicked the bed and cried as bitterly. And when she was walking away, with that Mona Lisa smile on her tear-stained face, I got that smile and felt what she felt. That sort of communion is the ideal art experience for me, I seek it in books too, but it is rare to find. I don’t seek a sop story, of course, but to merge, be totally drawn in. In whichever form. Tearless is as good.

Several movies besides have managed to draw me in, but with Cabiria, it was so-far the most intense experience.

On a different level – more mental and less emotional perhaps – I would also single out Heavenly Creatures, a 1994 film by Peter Jackson. It was where I first saw my own dreams of perfect friendship reflected. I had dreamt of something like this ever since I was old enough, but there were no girls, let alone guys, with whom to have a friendship like that. You had to be alike and equally intense. No one was ever as mad as myself, so my friendships were respectable. Of course, the madness went overboard in the film, they grew too attached and it led to murder, but it need not. And I, I was lucky after all and got to experience that perfect friendship, though many years later.

Hmm, why do I feel like there is the same thread running through these two paragraphs – my dream or need to totally blend with people or with whatever it is I do and experience. My inability – almost – to avoid it.

Of all days, that day

It struck me just now. Why do I remember those days of all days?

One could have countless vivid memories, but I have days where nothing happened etched upon my mind. Vividly. My spots of pause and poetry.

My first year of school. I walk home on one of those golden autumn afternoons. It is still warm, the sun is out, the trees are tinged with a mixture of yellow and green. Nothing happened. I walked. I dreamt. I realised at some point on the road that I had not paid attention to where I was. My thoughts were too absorbing, whatever they were. I recall the surprise at having got home completely unmindful of the road. It was lovely.

Another moment of pause and poetry from early childhood. I sit on the staircase of our veranda. I have a bowl of strawberries with milk and sugar in my hand. It must be early July. The sun is soon to set and now peaks through the treetops, giving the greens of the garden a golden hue. It’s a very warm evening. I am barefoot and totally happy.

A later one. Of which I even have photographic evidence. I have gone for a stroll in the park. It is October and already chilly, but not overwhelmingly so. It remains pleasant, the crisp air and the smell of decaying leaves. I wear two ponytails and a red coat. I think of my sweetheart and send him a text message. I feel hope amidst delicious melancholy. We had had a fight, but it is going to be all right.

The fifth of October


Was it a vision or a waking dream?

I have a couple of childhood memories that seem so peculiar I can’t but doubt their veracity.

First one is this: I’m out with my baby sister and parents. They have to pop into a store in one quiet side-street. The five-year-old me is told to behave, not leave the store front, not talk to strangers and mind the baby. I proceed to do so until a strange woman approaches. She is very old, has a long nose and wears a black coat reminiscent of a cape with a hood. She looks into the pram and asks me something or tells me something about babies. I’m absolutely horrified. She radiates evil and mental instability. And I’m to be in charge. I’m so terrified I can only pray “Please go away, please go away. Please leave us”. She eventually goes away and all is good again.

But her likeness to a witch, the black cloak, the crooked long nose, the manner of her peeking into the pram – could women like that really exist in the 1990s? Or has my memory heavily embellished it?

Another peculiar memory comes from my teens.  We lived in a city flat near a busy road and opposite our house was a small park. One day I saw a brown horse in the park. There’s a little yellow house nearby where the horse was kept in a stable and sometimes the owner took it out for a ride in the park. In the middle of a city. Across a heavy-traffic road! Who keeps horses in the city! On a property no larger than 1800 square metres. And goes to ride in the park……..

Another memory with horses: I’m walking on a forest path which connects one part of the city with another. Two people on horseback come and ride past me. Once again – in the city! It’s rare enough for someone to keep goats, though that has been done, but horses? On small town properties?!