Home > Journaling the Apocalypse > Fighting Words in Hindi Movies

Fighting Words in Hindi Movies

December 28, 2008

You dog! Villain! Rascal! Your death is standing behind your shoulder!

In old Hindi movies, hero and villain would face each other and trade threats, then begin fighting with fists and kicks. Bad guys fell dramatically at the slightest touch of the hero’s hand. Sometimes even before the touch. Movie fights were known as di-SHOOM-di-SHOOM, after the crashing noise on the soundtrack, as if each blow were a grenade blast. Blood flowed like catsup. Hairdos were not disturbed.

I’ll break your body in such small pieces, the God of Death won’t even recognize you!

A man I loved was blown up, with others, far away in Beirut. He was my first death, the first death that cut into my flesh. He opened the stone doors of death for me. Back at home, there were flag-draped coffins, a memorial service at the Cathedral. All was ennobled.

After pomp and ceremony were neatly folded and stored away, I spent a week on my hands and knees, scrubbing my kitchen floor. Nothing was washed clean.

You crow! In your laughter I can hear the death rattle!

Soon after that, I saw a movie with Rudolph Nureyev as a violinist. During foreplay, he stroked his violin bow over Nastassia Kinski’s skin. But first there was a scene in a cafe, pleasant and ordinary. Then a bomb went off di-SHOOM and bodies were splayed everywhere and before I knew it I was on the floor again, crouching in the theatre’s darkness.

I will kill you in such a way that even death will hide its face and run away!

After that there were so many. The dead, who had been translucent as ghosts, grew opaque, like the rest of us.

I’ll beat you into such a death that death itself will become exhausted!

Now on television, in magazines, in newspapers, everything is displayed: the cratered road, rubble and flesh, sirens wailing. The shoe with the foot still in it. People carrying bodies in their arms, like angels.

I’ll cut you in half ā€” I’ll make you fifty-fifty!

Last week bombs exploded in Delhi markets. Shoppers said, “I heard a big sound!” A boy selling balloons was the main eyewitness. News cameras panned across smears of blood.

When my eyes are tired, sometimes it’s all catsup to me. But I’m not really fooled: I know death is there, quiet behind our shoulders.

Get the funeral pyre ready now!

by Nancy Gandhi

Reading by Dave Bonta and Beth Adams – Download the MP3

  1. December 28, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Ach, I’m sorry. As if life weren’t hard enough, without people scheming and laboring to make it worse. I’ll never understand.

    Beautifully done, Nancy.

  2. December 29, 2008 at 10:23 am

    My heart breaks for all the violence, Nancy. And now Gaza. And to think I had had hopes the 21st century would be one of peace.

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