A chill ran down my spine

The expression was my favorite and used it generously during i-dig-nancydrew-days. I would render mystery stories (in the beginning, only to apply the phrase) that almost paralleled the famous five, but set in my grandpa’s house in the country-side, forbidden-attic, overgrown monsoon-fed yard, old vile servants and the like. Well! The stories never got published, owing to… mysterious circumstances; not really! I simply wanted to state it that way. However, the phrase had formed an impression, that in addition to using it twice in the same sentence; I was willing to make everything frightening to chill the feel!

So when watching snow-white scared the shit out of me and I wouldn’t even look into a room with mirrors, I had put the slogan to rest. I bet a Halloween remedy of house of horrors could have gone a long way, back then and I wouldn’t have ended up half as petrified of the dark as I am today!

Although, it never stopped me from (over)indulging in X-files, groupwatching-to-be-scared of movies like the exorcist, the ring, later making a mockery of ‘Saw’, Urban legend and many others in the same genre. The most popular character of Nagavalli in Manichitratazhu (The-original-legendary-mallu-movie-defaced-by-commercial-farce-remake-chandramukhi-in-tamil-and-bhoot bhuliya-in-hindi) had left an eerie stamp and if not for the panache of lal-ettan as Dr.Sunny… I might have never watched the movie a million times after, to end up intrigued by the MPD twist to most movies about the possessed. Another unforgettable classic centered on MPD is Sidney sheldon’s ‘tell me your dreams’.

Last Sunday evening, I spent movie hopping and tad bored at times with the runaway hit ‘Paranormal Activity’. With a husband who believes that my phobia to darkness can only be combated by leaving me lightless and screechy on my way to the bedroom up the stairs, I thought the therapy had left me stoic to the most terrifying movie of the year! But then however hard I tried, as the wood creaked in the bitter cold of fall, I awoke to ungodly hours rerunning the movie in my head.

**Spoiler alert**The only saving grace was the movie ended on an ambiguous note and I with all the research on MPD and psychokinesis, also drawing inputs from Sunny-chaayan’s explanations in the end of Manich. concluded that Katie is indeed not possessed, but an ironically comforting split personality. The wicked climax was almost heart-breaking and numbing. **End spoiler alert** But the very fact that the movie depicted normal people, leading a normal life, haunted by abnormal activities did leave that very chill, this time as a knot in the pit of the stomach. The simplicity of the movie, down to the webcam prints and fear factor without any of the creepy music, special effect jargon left a deep impact!

I tried to douse the movie with a hop to feel good Christmas Carol in 3D and two servings of unhealthy Chinese followed by icecream. So tonight, before I break into a sleepless reprieve, I am going to read a light book, play the fun times at LA universal studios, when Frankenstein and friends were nothing but humans scared of us and the risible comments we made watching Ring 2 and hopefully fall into that luscious sleep!

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Culture Shook

The edapally punyalan stands valiant at the busy cross roads of Eranakulam(Kochi). This spear bearing, white horse riding, serpent killing, St. George of St. George church at edapally had always been a mystery to me. This deity with the power to control and rid snakes is an easy favorite even among the hindus who fear the snake gods. My maternal family home was built around a dozen edifices of snake gods and hence the allegiance to punyalan had stuck since a long time. Our trips to Kochi till date are always accompanied by a hand folded quick bow and swift donations to this white knight.

As a child, I was perplexed at the tam-bram association to a church and the politics of the faith confounded me to no end. When cousins chose partners outside the familial realm of caste, religion, ethos and what not, they were met with cold response from the elderly. The faith I had awed now seemed hypocritical. The willingness to rebel anything and everything had only become stronger and sadly the purpose was lost somewhere!

The families haven’t stayed far behind. The confluence of ethos, language, religions, casteism, is the norm; the fence is breaking away. Acceptance is now widespread and even in vogue. As we celebrate the unions, sport a thaali with influences from the families of boy and girl; organize weddings with various ceremonies making them double the fun, has the din shut us to what holds next? Has the clamor and victory of love left us in the end nonchalant? Did we revolt to find common ground and lose ourselves mid-way?

So when I posed the question to a friend, she was quick to conclude – “Our unborn children are Indians. They won’t be tied down to caste, religion, language and all the unnecessary barricades”
I wasn’t convinced – “So, it means they will know no language well enough, they will hardly understand any traditions, they will have no real direction to choose their god, they will never care enough for all the work we did to sever the very barriers.. Are we making a better world or breaking it?”
“All of that and much more. …”
“like?”
“We might as well brace ourselves to accept homosexuality isn’t uncommon” she quipped, tongue in cheek of course!

So when I grew up watching amma wake up early to paint the kolam, slurp many a serving of coconut oil laden avial, guffawed in the theatres watching Malayalam movies, mastered a language that can be spoken only if you are born into it; I had taken pride in all of it and let it all be part of me even without my knowledge, even with all the rebellion that had sprung. So am I wrong in expecting my unborn child to experience it the way I did?

It makes me wonder what our parents had in mind for us and how we turned out? Will we manage to introduce the best of cultures into our upbringing as parents? Will we be forceful, unmindful or renowned in our approach? So, if I were to save something what would it be – my religion, my tradition, my language, my food habits? If I make the choice, how do I make the save? and if I make the save, would it be at the cost of losing the choices of my other half?

The irony of the situation may cease in a long time. Hypocrisy fought with new hypocrisies… Blended fusions and potpourris created and meshed. Love triumphing above all else and leaving behind a trail of foot prints washed away in the sea of reform!