It was Sunday, the final day of Kashish – I woke up early. I was still thinking about the story of two women from a film I watched the day before. The film was just 15 mins long but was powerful enough to touch me deeply. I tried to take it out from my head. “I should get ready for the last day of Kashish”, I thought. I told my lover to go to the washroom before me. She carefully opened the pink curtains, closed them quickly and left. I checked the curtains again to make sure no gap remained. Above my head, I saw the curtain slide a little. I adjusted it. While I lay down, I heard some men talk to each other outside. They might pack their bags to leave, I thought. I waited for a while. When I heard them dragging their bags, I felt relieved.
I opened the curtain, came out of the bed and looked around the room. There was no one. I kept my clothes and waited for my lover. She came back in a few minutes, took her clothes and we walked to the washroom together. No one was there. We took a shower quietly.
“Good morning, ma’am”, said a woman security guard in a booth of a shopping mall while greeting a woman customer. She touched the woman’s body to check if she was carrying some prohibited things with her.
“Thank you ma’am”, she said and opened the booth curtain to let the customer get inside the shopping mall. The female security guard does the same thing again and again. But after sometime, a girl came. They looked into each other’s eyes. They kissed and hugged with full desire. I realised they were lovers.
“That’s the Pavilion in Pune”, my lover whispered in my ear.
“How do you know? I don’t think so.” I responded.
“I remember that place, we go there almost everyday!”
“But we never go to that booth”
“But that’s a made up booth!”
I tried to remember if the booth on screen is the same booth that I and my partner usually go and get a security check from. I couldn’t recognise it. I stopped thinking and concentrated on the film.
The woman security guard took her lunch box out from the bag and gave it to that girl without a word. The girl left the booth and spent time alone in the shopping mall. Till now we don’t know anything about them. The film doesn’t have much dialogues. The two women chat on the phone when the younger one asks if she can meet the guard again. I expected they would have lunch together but they both had lunch alone even though they were in the same space.
After spending the whole day in the booth, it was time to close. The security guard called the girl to come and return her dabba. The girl spent her day in loneliness and boredom but got happy when she saw the text. She hurriedly came to the booth. They closed the curtain. The camera switches to the CCTV footage of the booth. After sometime, the girl leaves from the booth. The final scene shows the female security guard change her uniform to a saree, and leave.
The story line was so simple. There was no thick conversation but some words from the chat that tell us about the characters. The powerful performance of the female security guard made me feel her anxiety. A forbidden love between a young girl who waited an entire day loitering to meet the female security guard. We don’t know how they met and fell in love with each other. Is the security guard married? She looked older than the girl and seemed to have more anxiety.
Outside the booth, they are a customer and a security guard. Inside the booth, they are lovers. The desire of two women expressed only in the booth becomes a metaphor of a love in the closet. Love between two women who cannot come out. The time in the booth is the only time and space that they can make out. Outside, they don’t have space. It is such a contrast to heterosexual love! They can come holding hands in a shopping mall, have lunch, watch films, do PDA while consuming but that is not an option for the women in the film. Only the booth is their place. Do they have another place to make out in the holiday, I don’t know.
“I saw a hole on that side, can you put some clothes on the upper bed?”
“A man on that side can see us”, I told my lover to close the gap.
“Now all gaps closed, no one can see us”
I laid my head down on the small pillow and turned off the light. The room was dark. I heard a man next to our bed snoring. Another man opened the door. I kissed my lover and hugged her tightly. I thought that next time we will book a place which has a larger bed. At least there were curtains here. We could sleep together. I thought about the scene when the two women made out in the booth. I felt like the same. There was no place for us women who loved each other. We are in the closet. Our closet is just different. The closet of the two women in film was the booth in a shopping mall while my closet at that time was the bunk bed in a mixed dormitory room.
Rohin Raveendran Nair
Best Indian Narrative award from Kashish Queer Film Festival 2019