It’s been a while… I haven’t felt inspired to post anything new in a long time. My love for Bollywood hasn’t waned though… I still read all my favourite Bollyblogs with keen interest, and I still keep tabs on what’s showing at our local cinemas, even if the last one I saw was ‘Wanted’, back in… September, I think (I really liked it). The truth is there’s just been too much going on in my life to allow me the simple pleasures of watching and writing about Hindi films. I really haven’t had the time or the inclination to sit down and watch an entire Bollywood film in ages.
That will probably change soon, though, after I get through this whirlwind of activity that always accompanies huge life changes. It’s funny… looking back; Bollywood has a tradition of being there for me at really low times… I remember that I really embraced Bollywood movies and music during my father’s long and painful struggle with cancer. I began with ‘Hum Aapke… Hain Koun!’ and ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, then quickly progressed to ‘Bunty Aur Babli’ and ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, with scores of films in between.
Then I watched some of my most memorable Bollywood films during the difficult months after my father eventually passed on – looking back, it’s funny how those days seem constantly punctuated by Hindi films:
Attending my sister’s graduation ceremony without my darling ‘Dadda’, watching ‘Do Aur Do Paanch’.
Visiting relatives in with my mother, watching ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’.
Visiting other relatives, getting bored out my mind, watching ‘Aradhana’.
Moving to a new/old city (I was born and raised in Lagos, but lived in other places for a decade before returning here), watching ‘The Burning Train’ (and falling deeply in love with Dharmendra – then starting this blog soon afterwards).
Starting a new job, watching ‘Chupke Chupke’ (and falling even harder).
Settling into the routine of my new Lagos life, watching SRK steam up the screen in ‘Don’ (and making a wonderful new friend in the process – the one I would eventually travel to India with).
So many movies are tied up with so many moments – moments of healing, painful reminders, joyful ones too. Laughter, tears, introspection, bonding. And now… reeling from the recent, sudden loss of my beloved mother, my very dearest friend in the world, I find myself craving a long sit-down with a really good Bollywood DVD (or two).
A long time ago, I wrote a post about the things I love about Bollywood. Those reasons have changed as I’ve learned more about the industry and explored more of its products, but one thing remains constant – Bollywood still reminds me of how much I love my family; of the powerful, soul-deep, bittersweet joy/pain that comes with bonding with these people you are given to, through no choice of your own, when you enter the world. I was incredibly blessed in the parent stakes – I got the most amazing parents – the easiest people in the world to love; and even if that makes losing them that much more painful, I’m so incredibly glad and grateful to have had them in my life for the time I did.
I can’t think about Bollywood without thinking of my mother… of how she sat down with me and watched the rather painful ‘Pardes’ (and how she called me ‘I love my India’ for weeks after, after the oh-so-cheesy song from the film). I know there were a million other things she would rather have spent those hours doing, but she wanted to share my new passion (trust me, I made sure the next film we watched together was a good one). I remember how she took my new passion for Hindi films in her stride, although she did indulge in a brief period of worry over my DVD budget! I remember her singing her made-up faux Hindi song (basically the word ‘piya’ repeated over and over) and dancing for me, Bollywood style.
I remember how she actively encouraged me to visit India, even though lots of other people thought I was crazy for wanting to go. I remember how excited she was the first time I called her from Delhi (‘yay, you made it there finally!’). On one of our last visits together, I remember that she was using my laptop when she came across a picture of Kajol all decked out in her bridal finery (from the final scenes of KKHH), and asked me if I wanted to be dressed up like that if and when I ever got married. I remember how she cocked her head, smiled and said ‘I think it would suit you. You would look beautiful’.
It’s been over a month since I lost her, and I haven’t truly begun to miss her yet – I’m still at the stage where I just can’t believe she’s gone. I’ve had to go straight from receiving the devastating news, to planning the funeral, to taking care of all the loose ends that a sudden death leaves behind. The death of one’s parents is truly the end of an era – everything changes profoundly, from smaller things like Christmas holiday plans to bigger things like having to lock up a house that once was a home. It’s been an illuminating time – death always brings out the best and the worst in people. But I’ve never been prouder of my parents than now… watching their children pull together, hold hands and wade together through this storm. They lived well, they loved hard, and they left behind a beautiful legacy.
I’m not a huge ‘sharer’ and very rarely post anything personal on this blog, so I’m not sure why I’ve just done so. Maybe I’ve been inspired by reading posts like these, that celebrate family, both biological and otherwise. Maybe I just feel the urgent need to reiterate those well-worn clichés that ring so true to me, especially now – hold your loved ones close as you can, make the most of every moment you share with them, and never let them forget how much they mean to you. Life is short.