Baby's day out

Baby's day out

The theatre was full, perhaps because of the holiday. Or it might have been because the curiosity of the people was whetted by the sudden mysterious death of the leading lady’s star mother a few days ago. Without much ado, the film started. A collective audible breath was taken by the audience when the heroine made her spectacular entrance. She seemed to have inherited her mother’s penchant for timing, as well as her beauty and vivaciousness.

A large group of people, obviously of the same family, entered and occupied the front seats making a lot of noise and disturbing the rapt audience. By the time they had all settled down, the film had progressed to the first complication.

I was absorbed in the story, wondering how it will be resolved, when I felt a touch on my knee. I looked down and was surprised to see a child standing in the aisle next to me and looking up at me. The child was a toddler, maybe two years old. I looked around to see whose child he could be, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the film. The tot tried to climb onto my seat. I helped him up and made him sit on my lap where he immediately went to sleep.

After a while, he woke up and started squirming, so I put him down. Holding him by his arm, I said in a stage whisper, “Whose baby is this?” People around me looked baffled and shook their heads. As I turned around to look, the toddler freed himself from my hold and started walking up along the aisle. Thinking he must have seen his mother, I started watching a violent scene on the screen.

In a few moments, a stentorian male voice shouted from above, “Whose child is this? Can’t you take care of your own baby?” I tried to make myself invisible, as I realised that he thought it was my baby. But his loud remark had its effect and a young man came up from the front row to claim the toddler. The man walked down to the row in front of me, where his large family was seated, and thrust the baby into the hands of his young wife and stalked out angrily.

I could see the various elders of the group admonishing the young mother during the intermission. The young father returned after the intermission, and it was the turn of his wife to stalk out angrily. She soon returned with the baby asleep on her shoulder. The father took the baby forcibly from her, and the tot began to cry. They both tried to pacify him, but his wails only became louder. Now the whole family of aunts, uncles and grandparents tried to pacify him. Suddenly, there was a loud sound of the hero being shot, followed by absolute silence. The baby had also become silent.

I saw the family in an ice cream parlour in the mall after the movie. The grandmother was busy feeding the baby ice-cream. I looked around for the young parents. They were busy hunching over their mobile phones.