Learning of the original James Bond’s passing away this past weekend—at a fittingly Bondsian location, I might add, in Nassau in the beautiful Bahamas— made a time traveler of me.
I found myself, like D.H. Lawrence, “taken back down the vista of years…” till I found myself, like the child in his poem, recalling my young and beautiful mother, wearing one of her famous sarees, flowers in her hair coiled around the joora she used to wear in those days, pretty jhumkas adorning her ears. Her coral pink lipstick, a Revlon gift from a friend in London, was, I’d like to think, applied as a deliberate gesture to connect her glamor to that of the world of the British secret service agent played by the handsome (and later to be Sir) Sean Connery on the screen he was gonna light up at the Plaza cinema on Mall Road where my parents were headed with another couple for a night out. “From Russia With Love” was the film they were going to see, and then have dinner with their friends at Mei Kong, a favorite Chinese restaurant of that era in Lahore. I shamefacedly recall how I vomited the first time my parents took us children to try Chinese cuisine there; and now I can’t live without Chinese food which I’ve enjoyed on a regular basis since that first embarrassing incident when I was 6 or 7. An important early lesson in understanding how “other” tastes and experiences turn into lifelong companions in our journeys of selfhood.
And so, back to the dashing world of Bond and his fast cars and sexy women…. I was too young then to understand the sexism of this screen world and it’s connection to the patriarchal mores of all cultures then and now. But I do recall hearing my parents laugh salaciously afterward at some remembered joke or pun…. and mom’s giggling peels when I asked her if she could take me to see the film, I too wanted to share in her fun I said, and she, twinkling her eyes at her darling ghooshoo, my dadd-y, telling me no, darling, not yet, not yet, this movie is for grown ups only.
Oh how mad I was then, this Sean Connery was taking her away from me, I could hear her later saying to my dad, oh darling, wasn’t Bond dreamy, much as I now tease my husband, oooh, now here’s the sexiest man alive each time the Scotsman appears onscreen….
But the day I learnt of his death at age 90, almost exactly a year to the day after my own mother, the Ava Gardner of her time and place had passed away aged 86 in lahore, a few miles away from the cinema she’d gone to all those years ago with my dad n her friends to see the handsome Bond escape death time and again—-I was surprised at the depth of my mourning.
Like the grown up poet of “The Piano,” I was overcome by “the glamour
of childish days upon me” my womanhood “cast
Down in the flood of remembrance” as I wept “like a child for the past.”