Reincarnation (2): Remembering Cathay


Note: Cathay was an old-school, single-screen cinema on Penang Rd that operated for some 35 years. I did my ‘schooling’ in Hollywood movies there throughout the 80s. Today’s cineplexes mean little to me.

As children of the next generation,
We flocked to the imagined world of Hollywood
After sunset,
Just when the town was recovering from
The cruel heat of another blank page day.
We waited beneath the familiar marquee,
Knowing it would light up our dim imagination
When the magic yellow bulbs flashed bright,
Announcing the dream of the evening.
Our collective memory stretched far back –
To Bastian riding the dog-dragon over Fantasia,
To Damien grinning at his daddy’s funeral,
To the Jedi losing faith in himself.
We had lost ourselves in the glowing dark
(Like thousands of other island dreamers),
Many times over through the faceless years,
Forgetting there was another kind of dark
Outside the four eternal walls of wonderment.
The screen, anything but silver, was a kaleidoscope
Of all possible worlds in impossible ways.
We travelled on the sirocco and the northern lights
To the glittering heart of each fantasy nightmare,
Battling the alien queen with cinema’s greatest heroine,
Spinning through NYC as ghostbusting tomfools,
Waking up in Freddy’s vision of his shredded kids –
And how we cheered when Bruce Willis saved mankind again!
We learnt of the many faces of Love
– from honesty to treachery –
And fell hard for leading men and femmes fatale.
We got back up on our feet every time,
Ready for another round of tragicomedy.
We bonded with our brave fathers
Over badass Eastwood and cowboy flicks.
We found the rare fountain of youth
With the help of old veterans in the Florida Keys;
Understood then why we all wanted to live forever
In a world where all that’s born must die.
We were together, under the colourful canvases
Of movie ads declaring to all brothers:
‘Stand by me!’ And we did stand strong till
The lonely digital age came stealing in,
Whispering individualism in our ears,
And cold, cold multiplexes with personality disorder
Paved the way for an era of
The marquee lost its shine, was
Dismantled in our absence.
But sometimes when the night is long,
We see the children at the box office again,
Fanning themselves in the heat of illusion,
Dreaming foreign myths with one beating island heart.

7.5.16  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


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