“Mogn ena WereQet”
When we first got a video cassette player, or a “deck” as we called it back home, somebody told my parents that most of the actions in the movie (and they were mostly action movies, “First Blood”, “Five men Army”, “Django”) were done using “camera tricks”. The person didn’t explain further. My parents needed no explanation. And being the ultimate authorities over all forms of entertainment in the house (by way of the buying/borrowing of books, the turning on & off of tvs, rewinding/fast forwarding and translating or ignoring movies – in the case of a certain “f” word, for example. I was 9th grade before I knew what it meant), everything we ever saw on TV after that became the result of “camera tricks”.
The cars (or buildings) that got blown were toy cars or card-board model houses constructed on a table. The “kincha” were men “mawenachefing” their hands to the sound of banging bells and drums. Even the food, they argued, (that food “Wuti”, who end up becoming head “teshekami” for “Abba Billa Wefcho Bett” salivated over every time it came on, and left us discussing future possibilities of foods being delivered through TV-screens) was not really being chewed. All.. were part of the magic of “camera tricking”; lights and angles, sounds and illusions. Smoking mirrors.
And while they sat on the sofa that kids weren’t even allowed to rest their [filthy] arms on, explaining every extraordinary event away, we [sitted in our rightful places – the floor (which we mopped and waxed on Saturday mornings, fired by the promise of the “TalaQ film” that night; which may or may not be a Russian love story; and may or may not be cancelled by my dad’s need to go to sleep early, or some dumb “yeEgir kwas” program ETV decides to transmit at the last minute)] imbibed their outlooks and values along with it. “Rambo”, to my mom, was “Rambo wondu”. Men, [like the father on “The Champ” or little “Birju” on “Mother India”], who wept over the love of a woman or the loss of a childhood or, like the late Luelseged Kumsa, spoke English better than the natives would] were, according to my dad, “over-acting”. My older half-brother Israel called Bruce Lee “Yebir sini”, and not realizing how unpoetic that was, my younger brother Tagel and I made a song and dance out of it.
We watched, we listened, and we went out the next morning and faithfully imitated – the actions, the out looks, the values.
The one thing we watched silently and soaked, like a sponge, into our young psyche [and the one thing nobody told my parents was indeed a “camera trick” of sorts] was … the romance. The romance in movies! We ofcourse knew the hero and heroine can not be lovers, anymore than they can be dying or dead despite playing thus. We weren’t that imbecile—ish. We have also heard, from the authority that introduced the idea of “camera tricks” into the family, that kissing, in America, was like shaking hands. And sex… sex was a really bad idea that kids should scramble to get to the remote control for or denounce sternly as “Siyastelu! Balegewoch!!” if ever a movie was gonne be watched under those roofs.
However, what happened there, between the lovers, between those two, we expected to happen in real life. We assumed women reacted to a touch the way men did. That lovers run in slow motions, in green pastures or across bridges, with hairs blowing and dresses flattering, towards one anoother. That you don’t feel the rain coming down when being kissed by the one you love. That you would actually say a lame line like “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.” and the people, instead of commenting on how cheesy that was, would go “Awwwwww!?”
That’s how, we assumed, the magic of love and love-making went.
We still do.
Happy New European Year, y’all.
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