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4pm Matinee

Posted by Mujtaba Rana on
4pm Matinee

She came to the afternoon matinee alone. She liked the rush of independence she got when the ticket seller looked around for a date. “Just me,” she’d say with a playful smile. She took a seat in the middle of the theatre and sank down into the soft velvet chair, folding over the edges of her ticket in anticipation.

From the moment she was a little girl, she adored the movies. She loved the ritual of going to the theatre: the music in the lobby, the smell of buttered popcorn, the hush of the crowd when the lights went down. But as she got older, she began to long to be a part of the experience. She wanted to feel the heat of the studio lights on her face and the rumble of applause beneath her feet. To captivate an audience with her laugh, or bring them to tears. She wanted to stretch beyond her shyness, filling the darkened theatre with her wit and grace.

The film was a classic comedy, a story of a woman caught between three men. The actress in the starring role was beautiful, unconventional. She wore trousers when other ingénues were in skirts, blazed a trail for independent women in Hollywood. Offscreen, she rolled up her shirtsleeves and gardened geraniums and herbs, haggled with spice merchants from Delhi to Istanbul, and read Russian novels in long, luxurious, baths. She spent much of her life proudly, happily, alone.

That afternoon in the matinee, the girl felt her future calling like a siren’s song. Years later, it became clear that the plan was hatched that very day. Countless auditions, hours of dance, singing lessons, late nights working behind a bar, endless sweat and tears—all of these began in a darkened theatre as her dream was taking shape.

She couldn’t know that she’d succeed, but she never doubted it, either. Chasing her dream felt as natural as breathing air. It wasn’t a matter of choice. She had to become the star she knew herself to be.

And once she’d achieved it—the fame, the acclaim—she’d attribute her success to her girlish gumption. She’d never been afraid of striking out on her own. She’d never been afraid of going to the movies alone.

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