Last Monday I was very tired. I did not feel like working. So, at lunchtime, I told everyone at the office that I must go out. I wanted to go and relax somewhere. But I didn’t know where to go.
I couldn’t go home – people at home ask too many questions. But I didn’t want to hang around, in town. What if someone from work saw me? Then I thought of the cinema – now that is a good place to hide.
I checked my pockets for money – only two rand. That was not enough money for the ‘larney’ cinemas. So I walked down to the Good Hope in Commissioner St. For two rand, you can see two movies there – and buy some food at interval.
When I got to the Good Hope, I looked at the posters to see what was showing. It was a Chuck Norris film and a war movie. I didn’t mind. Any movie is okay if you are only looking for a place to relax.
There were many people waiting to see the movie. I went and stood at the back of the line. I looked to see who was there. There were ‘Vastas’ and ‘pantsulas’. And there were lots of ordinary people, like myself.
I wondered why they were at the movies on a Monday afternoon. I spoke to the woman next to me. She had her baby on her back. “Sometimes,” the woman said, “it is nice to get away from your troubles. When you come to the movies, you are in another world for two hours. And for those two hours, you have nothing to worry about.”
The woman was right, I thought to myself. When you are at the movies, you can pretend that you are the strongest, or the most beautiful person in the world – but just for two hours.
Suddenly someone started shouting. It was an ice-cream seller. And he was shouting, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream.” People rushed to buy ice-creams from him.
It was hot, waiting in the sun and I was getting very tired. I saw someone, trying to sell tickets to the people in the line. But before he got to me, someone said, “Don’t buy from him. Those people sell old tickets. Then, when you get to the door, they won’t let you in.”
After a long wait I got my ticket. When I went inside, the movie had not started. It was very dark – it was like being underground. I tried to walk but I could not see where I was going. Luckily the usher arrived with his torch, before I tripped and fell.
He showed me to my seat. When I sat down, the chair slid forward. It was very comfortable. Then the screen lit up with advertisements, before the film started.
Someone near me read everything on the screen out loud. I was getting very cross. But luckily another person told him to keep quiet. Next minute Chuck Norris appeared on the screen. And everyone started whistling and shouting.
I never got a chance to sleep in that movie. Chuck Norris spent the whole time, shouting and fighting. Some thugs attacked him and stole his child.
But he went after them. He beat them all up and got his child back.
When that film was over, it was time for interval. I was very pleased. It was very hot inside and I wanted an ice cream. I went outside and started speaking to a guy.
This man spoke with an American accent. I was very surprised. What was an American doing at the Good Hope? But when I asked him where he lived, he told me that he lived in Meadowlands.
“I come to the movies every week,” he told me. “And I learnt English through the movies. That is why you think I am an American.”
I went back into the cinema in time for the second film. I soon fell fast asleep. I woke up with the sounds of guns shooting. I got a big fright. “Don’t shoot,” I shouted. The man next to me told me to be quiet. Then I remembered I was at the movies.
When the second film finished, I was surprised to see the sun shining outside. People were standing around, talking about the films we had just seen. One guy, John Hlatswayo, just shook his head.
“Nowadays most films are about fighting. And a lot of films are about Americans fighting the Communists. The Americans are always the goodies and the Communists are the badies. One day it would be nice to see a film where the Communists are good and the Americans are bad.”
I thought about the things I had heard at the movies. John was right. It would be nice to see films that aren’t just about fighting, and that aren’t about good Americans and bad Communists.
But it would also be good if people’s lives were better and they did not use the movies to run away from their problems either. Maybe I am looking for too much. Who knows?