Screaming Willow

It was a routine Sunday outing. En-family. Catching an inane Bollywood potboiler, in an inane multiplex. 

The most exciting part of the movie was on — the interval. Cocooned in carb comfort, deftly juggling popcorn munches with cheese crackers interspersed with blissful sips of soda, I was staring nonchalantly at the screen as coquettish commercials tried seducing jaded eyeballs. 

Endorsements done with, it was trailer time. A teaser of ‘Delhi Belly’ — the 2010 Aamir Khan production — swung onto the screen, spanning all its 70 mm glory. I sat up, all agog. 

I’m a sucker for trailers – those naughty peekaboos that tantalize our ‘chaste’ buds, those flirty aperitifs — always tastier than the main course.

Just thirty seconds into the teaser, suddenly the auditorium was rocked by a blood-curdling scream. And then another. 

The mind-numbing shrillers did not originate from the movie screen.

They emanated from close quarters. In fact, very close quarters.

Oh, bejesus …it was me! Screaming as if an elephant had tripped on my tail! 

Impacted by my high decibel shrieks, the teaser-crew beat a hasty retreat, vaporizing into the giant screen canvas. 

The non-plussed audience first froze in collective horror and then, in unison, pointed their attention guns at me and my clan, searing our innards with that ‘what the f…’ look. 

My family members bore the look of a mom whose kid had bed-wetted the boss’s swanky recliner. 

This wasn’t my first scream. This wasn’t their first egg-in-the-face moment.

They quickly calculated what would salvage the moment better – disowning me pronto, or hiding under their chairs.

Of course, neither would. So they gathered their wits and grinned apologetically at everyone on my behalf.  

As for me, I was mildly mortified albeit smugly convinced of the validity of my shenanigan. 

The real culprit, of course, was Mr. Aamir Khan (and his darn teaser) who had created the scream-worthy situation for me.

Pre-scream, the teaser had panned on a nondescript loo, where a portly guy is shown presiding over his scatological throne, going about his excretory endeavors. 

Apparently suffering from ‘Delhi-belly’, the guy merrily goes belting the crassest and offensive sound effects possible.

The impropriety and inelegance of the whole scene made me feel violated, helpless, and livid – all at once. So I ended up involuntarily reacting the way I do in such situations… SCREAM! 

Screaming comes naturally to me. No, not the dainty ooh-aah variety, but the full-throated 120-decibel howler that has the capacity to make cadavers jump out of their skin.

It’s a reflex act that gets triggered by certain sounds and words that are persona non grata in my vocabulary.  

I can curb this freaking (or rather – shrieking) urge if I pre-empt the trigger point and brace myself for a scatological innuendo. If however I’m caught unawares, god help anybody within a radius of 20 ft.

Without going into the psychosomatics of the issue — and assuming that some childhood nightmares tucked in the dusty recesses of my northern hemisphere must’ve affected my baby medulla oblongata — I have so far let my poor family bear the brunt of this genetic anomaly.

‘Delhi Belly’ went on to win the Oscars in scatology. But Aamir Khan lost an ardent fan. I am not on talking terms with him since the teaser episode. 

Although, in a way, I am thankful to him. Because, if he hadn’t warned me through his obnoxious teaser about what lay ahead in the movie, I would’ve unsuspectingly gone to see it.

And you can imagine what THAT could have led to…

A multiplex quake of Richter 9! I could have ripped the seat cushions apart and stuffed them in my mouth…or possibly died of multiple laryngopharynx failure! 

A 2-hour movie replete with expletives and scatological innuendos would have made me scuttle out of the theatre faster than DK bose (the protagonist in the movie) himself. 

Another such publically-adored but personally-abhorred film that caught me unawares with its slew of scatologies and eructations was ‘Atithi tum kab jaoge’… A movie in which a rustic, boisterous, buttrigger-happy uncle lands up at a couple’s apartment, polluting the environs with his insalubrious disposition. 

In a supreme effort to control my screams (under chilly admonitions from my family), I had ‘liquid frustration’ rolling down my cheeks – not to mention painful, anemic knuckles and a forehead throbbing with ‘screech-reflux’. 

My family has since vowed never to accompany me to any movie having even a remote excremental connotation. 

Obscenogenic allusions are becoming exceedingly mainstream these days. In fact, rampant. MC/BC is now common parlance — sprinkled in conversational buffets like sesame seeds. ‘Phat gayi…’  in our times had a sartorial reference…a pant, a salwar, or a chunni — nothing a loving mom couldn’t fix.

Now apparently the term’s scope has widened to include certain biological parts of the human anatomy…and poor mom can’t figure how to fix them, for the life of hers. 

From Omkara to Gangs of Wasaypur, movie after movie is overflowing with language as flowery as the neighborhood gutter. And what’s worse is that people are lapping it up with gay abandon. Psychiatrists call it a psychological uprising against the bourgeois mentality that enslaves us. Really?

Sometimes, I have thought of discussing my ‘scatophobia’ with a psychiatrist. But then I’ve thought again. 

Why pay one now? I Will need to see one anyway for my serpentine list of philias and phobias… so will discuss this too. 

Who knows he might give me a discount! A philia free with a phobia. 

Or maybe my daughter, Selina, an aspiring psychologist, will subsequently take care of her philophobe or phobophile mom (depending on which way you look at it), without notching up humungous medical bills so as to avoid adding ‘invoicophobia’ to my list of psychological woes.