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The curse called Covid-19

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K S S Pillai
Being older than 65 years has become a curse, thanks to a virus born in a faraway land. The government has been asking me to remain at home, and venture out only if there is a medical emergency. The concrete benches in our housing society remain unoccupied. I am told that the pensioners, in particular, are being cajoled by other members of their family to remain at home. Gone are the evenings when we used to spend the evenings gossiping and discussing everything under the sun.
What I usually do to overcome the boredom is to watch stunt movies at home. Since my grandson is also not allowed to play in the open with other children, he is free after attending his online classes.
Equal sufferers, he is sympathetic towards me and gives me company. I watch these films after keeping my common sense under lock and key and follow Samuel Tailor Coleridge’s advice of ‘willing suspension of disbelief’. Neither do I feel any shame in joining my grandson when he claps with gusto at the superhuman exploits of the heroes.
The unarmed hero is surrounded by a dozen goons with bulging muscles, carrying iron rods and swords. He smiles in contempt, and stamps down his right foot with such a force that half a dozen parked cars rise into the sky.
Even as the bewildered goons are showered with high-power punches by the hero, the cars spin in the air in slow motion and land on the ground, their parts scattering in all directions.
Another scene….. One punch from the hero and one of his adversaries is sent hurtling through one window of a car and exits through the opposite one. A kick sends another bully soaring into the air, rotates half a dozen times, lands on all fours after a long time, rebounds like a rubber ball, and lies motionless in a heap.
One villain’s feet sink about a foot on the ground when the hero strikes on his head with his open palm. The re-grouped goons surround the hero and attack him, but not a blow lands on him. If he is shot at, he gets out of the way of the bullet just by ducking at the last moment. By the end of the tussle the whole area is strewn with fallen bodies.
I had grown up watching black-and-white Tamil movies with the theme of palace intrigues. Heroes would engage villains in fierce duels with their swords, sparks flying all around. Sometimes they did it on foot and at other times on horseback. The hero always rode on a white horse while the villain’s horse was black in colour.
The heroes and heroines were so adored by their fans that some of them later entered politics and became chief ministers of their state. When they died, the fans were so grief-stricken that dozens poured kerosene on themselves and went up in flames. Even today, they pour pots of milk on portraits of their heroes in publicity posters. No wonder some of the ageing heroes are busy forming political parties with an eye on the haloed chair of power.
(The author is a retired professor of English. He is a regular contributor to The Kashmir Vision. His articles have also been published by The New Indian Express, The Tribune, The Deccan Herald, and elsewhere)

 


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