What are you afraid of?

Darna Mana Hai…..getting scared is strictly prohibited. Of course I would love to be able to claim that this dictum isn’t valid, because there is nothing that could scare me. “Want to bet?” The movie seems to challenge me as it unfolds into 7 different routes into that murky zone of fear.

A couple of years back the horror movie mania gripped Bollywood in its knarly-knuckled, knobby-fingered, long-clawed hands.So chills became the latest thrills, and we were treated to a feast of scream-riots.

We’ve come a long way haven’t we, from the Ramsay brothers offerings with such gristly titles as “Veerana”, “Dak Bangla” and “Khooni Murda”. The last was my personal favorite, since, unlike the stereotype lonely haunted house ghouls, it featured a group of youngsters sending an over-ardent admirer to his end and then in turns being stalked and murdered by his ‘spirit’…a la “I know what you did last summer” (The ‘inspired’ trend reverses!!!!) For some reason the idea of a spurned lover stalking his lady love and her friends, even after his death was terrifying…not so much for the idea of ‘indestructibility’ that it assumed, but because it was horrible trying to imagine what such a being (?) would do once it got its hands on you…kill you? Torture you? Continue to profess undying (already-dead and still going strong!!!!) love?

Probably the scariest place in the world is right inside your own head. Imagining what could happen is infinitely more terrifying than any possible consequence that could happen. The movie ‘Omen’ hugely successful and an epic in the chilling flicks business did not show a single ghost, one drop of blood or even any threatening dialogues.

George Orwell put his finger on the spot when he wrote about “Room 101” as the ultimate punishment for an offender of the law. “You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. The worst thing in the world, varies from individual to individual.”

How many horrible things are there in the world? What does your favorite can of screams taste of? What are the different ways to scare a person? Lets count..

Classic horror. A honeymooning couple stops on a dark highway for what may be their last stop together….as two human beings. A trembling and slightly comforted wife drives away with her husband, whom she hasn’t noticed, doesn’t reflect in the mirror. Scream, yell, ooooh..

The madness of discipline, the chaos of order. A dusty, restless traveler stops at a wayside motel for a rest and a smoke…and decides to stay on for a longer time than he wants. Apparantly the “Welcome Resthouse” and its fanatically health-conscious proprieter give all their guests a choice – echo the propreiter’s sentiments or join the rest of the guests….in the basement in body bags. Cut to a close-up of two squeaky clean figures watching cartoons – the proprieter and the newly-reformed recent guest.

Are there such things as ghosts seeking revenge? Or is guilt another name for a ghost from the past? Either way, punishment is inevitable, finds the unhappy schoolmaster who can’t cope with the dunce of the class suddenly turning model student. By the way can ghosts lurk behind large soulful eyes, standing 3 feet tall? Teacher, is ‘Om’ short for ominous?

All of us enjoy horrible jokes played on others and watching them getting scared when there isn’t any reason to be…perhaps we’re all sadistic at heart. So of course its even funnier when the joke turns on the tormentor. Of course, he who dresseth as a ghost and maketh a bakra of others too often, may one day be made a bakra himself by a real ghost. Nice to know ghosts have a sense of humour too, even if it is rather deadly.

Time and tide wait for no man. What if they did, just for you? If I could just snap my fingers and the world would stop when I said stop and go only when I asked it to, I would be the most powerful person in the world and no one could stop me….but myself.

My favorite yell-saga was the apple story. An apple a day keeps the doctor away…and it may as well keep your existence away too. For some reason no one I met found this particular story scary. What is so frightening about a harmless, little guy selling apples at rock bottom prices? An apple, so innocuous, so ordinary and plentiful….scary? And yet, what can be more terrifying than the thought that you could be erased, metamorphosed into an apple…by an apple? Or how about the thought that you were the only human being left in a world of…apples? No one to talk to except apples, nothing to eat…but apples. And who was that not so harmless guy who said “Yeh aakri apple…aapko free mein” Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr………..

Yet a lot of people thought this yarn was more funny than scary. Could it be that most people hide behind laughter so they don’t have to confront their deeper fears? Maybe I am just scared of the ordinary. I guess the things that scare you, say a lot about who you are.

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