After his retirement, Achacha rarely visited Chennai. He only made a visit if there were any functions to attend.  So, it was surprising when he sent an SMS informing his arrival on this particular date and asked acha to pick him up from the airport. This is extremely rare as achacha doesn’t randomly decide to travel.

The arrangements were made and he arrived.  He wanted to see whether we get all Malayalam TV channels. We found out that after his retirement, he discovered Malayalam cinema, news channels and serials, and loved every bit of it. Later in the day, he expressed his desire to watch a movie. Mammootty’s film Nerariyan CBI, the new installment in the franchise of CBI thrillers had released then. The previous movie in the series, Sethurama Iyer CBI was still fresh in his mind and he wanted to watch this new movie. The nearest theatre screening the movie was Anand Theatre at Mount Road, which is almost 20 kilometers from our house. However, he was persistent and my uncle who stayed close to the theatre booked our tickets.

Acha had booked an Ambassador for our trip to the theatre and Achacha was ready. He wore his elephant grey coloured Safari suit, the one he only wears for special occasions. Due to the onset of the north-east monsoon, it rained heavily and in 10 minutes the roads were swallowed by water. The car waded through while achacha patiently checked his watch at regular intervals. We reached Anand Theatre on time, My uncle had got the tickets and also bought packets of some object which looked like cotton with mildly brown-coloured patches here and there. Amma later said it was called popcorn, she said “Don’t you like Act II advertisements, this is what they sell.”

Happily, I was chomping this new butter flavoured snack while trying to figure what was happening in the movie. Achacha had the time of his life, his attention to the movie was something I had never seen before. After intermission, I didn’t watch the movie, I ended up watching his face. It glowed. Occasionally, he laughs at the jokes otherwise maintained a still face, listening to the dialogues attentively. After the movie, we left to a near-by restaurant where the elders were discussing about the movie while I was just looking at how achacha’s face brightens up despite the white lights in background when he spoke about the film.

No one is sure why he suddenly decided to watch a film at a theatre, he was believed to be against going to a theatre and spending money.  Recently when my uncle asked about this incident, he just chuckled, nodded his head and said “Because I wanted to watch it”. He then continued watching a serial running in Asianet, while all of us were watching him react to the protagonist of the serial discovering something sinister. He started shouting at the villain of the show for spoiling everything in their family but his face still continued to glow.


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