At The Cinema Last Evening



I walked into the multiplex cinema,
Through a metal detector at the door;
There my bag they checked at random,
As trailing me a lengthy queue strode.


Inside I turned around, awaiting my friend,
Just as a silver haired couple, inward trod;
They didn’t get past the check post as I had,
As they held tight, a packet of a fried snack.


The man was clad in a faded cotton lungi,
High above wrinkled ankles the lady wore–
A sari, old, worn, as the age their faces bore;
With childlike excitement their eyes shone.


As I watched, a manager briskly strode–
A walky-talky, an upright stern look in tow;
He repeated what they’d been told before,
The fries in cellophane they’d have to forgo.


The couple blushed, conscious of the crowd–
As they asked the manager, why this was so?
I stared at the deflated faces, their eyes aglow,
Abashed I shifted my gaze firmly to the floor.


But the manager shook his head vehemently,
Insisted they could not go past this porch–
To a first row seat, at ten rupees each per show,
With this packet that probably cost them more?


Looking at me shyly, they walked out the door–
With dejected eyes, smiles in place once more.
They would snack together, without this show–
At the first row hearing munches from back rows.


I stood rooted at the glare of humanity so stark,
Then related it to my friend looking at me in shock:
My face was contorted in pain, as I’d not implored,
To buy pricey food in lieu of their dignity indoors.


As the movie rolled out at length, all I truly saw–
Was it the back of the couple’s heads, shaking in mirth?
Validating a system that deprived them of a film show:
Pricing tickets at Rs. ten…but their delight it ignored.


PS: In Chennai all front row seats in cinemas cost Rs.10. 


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