Will you watch LINCOLN with me, I asked my son? He smiled and looked away, a little amused that I'd think he'd think mothers are good company when a teen goes movie viewing. I put the question to my husband ----in my mind's eye! --- and saw his grimace. Should I ask my mother, I thought. She does not enjoy English movies. Call up a friend? In the city I live in, I really don't know anyone well enough to expect that they'd drop whatever they were doing and join me. So I walked into the cinema hall alone, bought a ticket, had a coffee while I waited and then watched the movie with a popcorn bag in hand. It was an exhilarating experience.
The cinema hall was nearly unoccupied, with just a small sprinkling of mostly grey haired men and women. We watched in silence, broken only by the crunching of popcorn. On the rare occasions that we view a movie together, my husband silently grinds his teeth every time a popcorn crunches. Of course, the question of my buying popcorn or nachos does not arise. I once did, and he shifted to a seat several rows away! Now, I could enjoy the popcorn without guilt gnawing away at me.
The coffee was hot, and I did not have to worry about spilling it, as I usually do because my sons fidget and re adjust the seats again and again. I savoured the coffee, served in a paper cup, each hot sip tasting better than the one before, even it was a Nescafe from a vending machine.
I did not have to tap my husband's shoulder to check whether he was dozing. I did not have to worry about whether or not my family was enjoying the movie. I did not have to ask the anxious question during Intermission, Do you like it, and struggle to interpret the short,ambiguous answers. I simply fetched myself another coffee during Intermission.
The second half was better still. I was completely absorbed in the movie, empathising with Lincoln and his tough, pragmatic choices, feeling the moral agony of the character played by Tommy Lee Jones, holding my breath as the votes got counted on the Thirteenth amendment.
The movie ended, and I sat right through the credits, as I always want to but never can because my sons get impatient. When I stepped out of the cinema hall, I walked not to the car parking as we usually do, as if a chore has been put behind us, duly completed, but to the bookshop where I picked up Into thin air, then wandered around looking at new titles. When hunger called, I had a leisurely sandwich at Subway, letting my thoughts wander to questions like whether the vegetables were organically grown, whether felafel in pita bread tastes better, or idli-sambhar-chutney is more nutritious.
I then returned home, with the firm resolve that henceforth, any movie worth watching I will watch alone ----because alone is not lonely.