I think Con Air, a movie about a plane hijacking, has some of the worst dialogues ever. But I have seen it over 30 times. I can’t help myself. It’s like stopping by a highway accident to assess the carnage. A cat-and-mouse game we play with our minds. We may grimace at the sight of blood. Yet we stick around to look for brain matter on the road.
Another reason is that Steve Buscemi plays a serial killer called Marietta the Mangler. In my favourite scene, he describes a fellow crook as being so angry and troubled that “happiness, for that gentleman, hurts”.
When I first heard the line, it sounded preposterous. Now, I get it. Happiness can hurt. It’s why I watch Con Air whenever I get the chance.
During my second year in college, a professor threw open a challenge to the class. He wanted to form a group that would conduct a survey on happiness as part of an assignment. I raised my hand as quickly as I could. Four more joined in before the blink of a lazy eye.
Looking back, I can’t recall if we ever did justice to it. I don’t even have the faintest idea what our questions were. Whether we framed them based on Maslow’s pyramid. Or Fight Club rules. I remember nothing. Except that my mom once cooked lunch for the group. And I had thought that a team member outstayed his welcome by licking his plate, literally, clean.
Maybe, I repressed the memory because of how alarming and poignant our findings were. Well, that’s as probable as the government erasing them from our minds due to security concerns.I guess, I hadn’t discovered anything that I considered to be valuable.
All these years later, I still can’t tell you what happiness means to me. But I have come to understand that making a certain amount of money, and feigning the right sort of attitude are crucial towards attaining it.
Everything peels. It’s how blindly and slowly we do it, I suppose.
Happiness can be a bottle of medicine. Necessary and bitter. But I need something to wash it down with. It can be a medical procedure. Like enema, but more intrusive. It makes me a little scared of being happy. And I think it is okay to feel that way.Because happiness can hurt me in a variety of ways. It pricks with accuracy. Lacerates without guilt. Shreds to a pulp the things that escaped the fire of melancholia. It can destroy everything in its path. Wages a war against my insides in defense of self-preservation.
It keeps me away from writing about birds. Instead, I feel stressed over a throwaway line from a crappy movie that I haven’t seen since the mid-2000s.
Happiness is weird.
(Featured Photograph: Chennai)