Leaving is losing

Paromita lives in New Delhi. She suffers from a rare but quite harmless disease: when she passes a movie theatre she has to go in. And stay until the movie is finished. Rumour has it she was born in one, and, that the first light she saw came out of a projector. We’ve tried to find out the truth, but she didn’t pick up her phone. She might have been to the movies.

Killa (English: The Fort)

Avinash Arun


I believe the happiest people in the world are those who have travelled extensively. Since I was a little girl I have dreamt of far off places, imagining myself running around continents without stopping. So desperate has been my wish that I have begun to view every opportunity in my life as a journey. Right here, right now, the only thing that comes to my mind is how this blog post is going to travel across the world and come in contact with people from different places, whom I have always longed to meet. Therefore, this post conveys my greetings to you all.

Amidst my desperate longing for travels, I have realized that any journey that encourages a search for the new, simultaneously conceals a loss of that which is familiar. I personally have never experienced this, but my dad has. My grandfather had a government job that was transferable. Due to this, my grandparents lived separately; my father, being the youngest, lived or rather travelled with my grandfather, while the rest of my aunts and uncles (there were six in total) lived with my grandmother. This constant movement dominating my father’s life led him to have a transferable childhood, where sometimes, despite his tender age, he was required to adopt a mature outlook.

I know of all this because my father has told me. I have grown up listening to stories of his childhood, to the point where I probably remember his childhood better than I do mine. This aspect of having to travel a lot as a child is something that he has always mentioned with a pang of sadness, but I could never understand it until I saw the film Killa.

Killa is a 2015 Marathi film telling the story of an eleven-year-old boy, Chinmay, who has recently lost his father and is forced to move from the big city of Pune to the small town of Konkan due to his mother’s transferable job. Chinmay is extremely saddened by this shift, his new home in Konkan is in no way able to match up to the high standards of Pune. Moreover, here in Konkan, he misses the company of his uncle and elder cousin who are the only father-figures he has left. The film deals greatly with the subject of acceptance as he and his mother both undertake separate symbolic journeys to come to terms with everything they have lost and eventually embrace all that they have left.

While watching the film, the spirit, the setting, and the sentiments the film employs reminded me instantly of Edmund Burke’s definition of the Sublime. Edmund Burke (1729-1797), an Irish statesman born in Dublin, was one of the key figures writing during the time of the French Revolution. He was a proponent of underpinning virtues with manners in society, and of the importance of religious institutions for the moral stability and good of the state. His philosophical entries had a great impact upon the writings of Wordsworth, who, through his work, defines and redefines what Burke established as the meaning of the Sublime.

Burke in his treatise A Philosophical Enquiry Into The Origin of Our Ideas of The Sublime and Beautiful (1757) writes, “Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling... When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and [yet] with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful, as we every day experience.”

For Burke, something that is beautiful is something that is aesthetically pleasing, but, something that is sublime is something that has the power to simultaneously enchant and terrify. The most classic example that Burke presents is that of a mountain. He says that a mountain’s beauty has a lot to do with its magnificent height and gigantic structure. A mountain is beautiful predominantly because its structure holds the power to terrify.

I personally encountered the same emotions of nature’s sublimity in Killa. All the locations in the film, though liberating, afford a feeling of extreme loneliness that is haunting. Take for example the Killa (Fort) from which the film borrows its name. The Killa, with its vastness and history, is enchanting for Chinmay. However, the providence of nature acts in the way of a heavy rain that slowly destroys his relationship with his friends. This incident with his friends and the growing rift in the relationship with his mother ends up forcing him to challenge himself. He does this by taking a boat ride with a drunk and shady fisherman who is a complete stranger. This incident brings him closer to life and death, forcing him to rethink his relationships once again. Nature appears in the form of the Sublime and teaches Chinmay the meaning of love and forgiveness.

Towards the end of the film Chinmay’s mother undergoes another job transfer and he is once again forced to relocate. These last scenes are especially sad because Chinmay has to yet again part from friends, with whom he has grown rather close. This time however he handles this separation with greater maturity, now that nature has taught him the great lesson of forgiveness and perseverance.

I was extremely moved by the film. I remember I had handled an exam badly that day and had decided to watch a film to refresh my mind. After I was done watching, I went to my father who asked me to narrate the film as a story. I told him and he too was filled with grief.

He told me he used to have a friend named Firoz. He had met Firoz during one of his travels. My grandfather had been stationed in a village for two years. Two years was a long time and my father, who was then younger than Chinmay in the film, had befriended Firoz. For two years they were inseparable. They went to school together and played together and studied together. He was my father’s best friend. After two years my grandfather was posted somewhere else and my dad was devastated to leave his friend. That day he told me he still thinks of Firoz sometimes. However, there is no way to know where he is today or how he is doing. There is just that memory of Firoz’s face seen for the last time, a memory partly blurred by the tears in my father’s eyes.

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