Every Malayali father is a Mufasa. I believe this has a lot do with their moustaches, which is as beautiful and majestic as OG Mufasa’s mane. Having the ability to amass any style in seconds, the moustache can easily command respect. Acha’s naturally did.

Acha’s strong voice is comforting when needed, can also be cold/hot when required. The sound comes from somewhere deep, its only purpose is to protect me from troubles and my own mistakes. This usually means I get a Munch chocolate after a long walk and longer talk. The Munch always succeeds in eliciting an apology from me.  After a tight hug, Acha says “Monu, be wary that it could come back to you also, everything is a circle”. 

I first watched The Lion King with my sister during a vacation. As the main character was introduced to the world by a wise looking old monkey, a visibly bemused Simba stared at a group of wild animals much like I stared at the huge Sanyo TV with the protective covers around it.

Amma says that the first book acha ever read to me was ‘The Lion King’. It was a tiny book with colourful illustrations and small paragraphs. I guarded this carefully during those times for the sheer joy it brought to the household. I don’t recall the theatrics of Acha mimicking the roars and other animal sounds which I am sure he brought to his story-telling. But it led him to call me ‘Simba’. The name of this goofy young cub became my nick name. It was later used as a special word whenever he wanted to express his love for me. I didn’t have to keep a nickname for him, he was already Mufasa in my mind.

Our countless walks and rides on his bike were our way of surveying the neighbourhood, our kingdom. Acha did not say wherever light falls is our kingdom but joined me in drawing a boundary for us on the walls of our home. Scratches of a bright yellow and dull orange along with strokes of green and blue was our recreation of ‘The Pride Lands’.

It is odd that we’ve never watched The Lion King together. Neither have we sung its songs nor felt sad when Scar betrayed the father-son duo. But whenever either of us had a bad day, the phrase ‘Hakuna Matata’ was thrown around. 

Over the years, Acha and I moved on to other characters. Sadly, they were different. Something had changed. The colourful illustrations and the animation that infused our already lively conversations now seemed like a faint memory. We didn’t have the energy to live the carpe diemway or be firm in our decisions. Rather, we ended up like the aimless hyenas, hysterically looking for a way to win.

We finally watched the new Lion King together and took selfies to share with our friends. A bucket of cheese popcorn on our laps, we were even ready to shout at people if they walked in late. But the new Lion King was too real for us. Simba looked adorable, Pride Lands looked more realistic than my 3rdgrade EVS textbook, but then anything would as well. Scar still gave me the chills and I laughed in every frame where Timon and Pumba were present. But, it didn’t seem real, I was still searching for something.

It seemed like we were stuck in a time warp. It was annoying during the movie because it seemed like that my puzzle couldn’t be solved due to the sudden disappearance of a piece. Searching for the lost fragment ensured I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of my almost perfect set. It hit me as Scar deceived Simba again that much like the animation, finer aspects of my life have changed. The bright and vibrant colours of the old Lion King gave way to the new, high-definition, subtle in colour Lion King. The problems which seemed to be hindering our relationship seemed to be clearer now, we were now left in the wild and not in the simulated world we absolutely adored.

Acha sensed what I was feeling and I felt he understood the change but at the same time, reassured me by holding my palm for the rest of the movie. I am not sure whether The Lion King 2019 carried the soul it had in the 1994 version. But, it surely did show the deep roots our relationship has and a new update to our dynamics. We celebrated the defeat of Scar as we choked on popcorn kernels and this time we sang. 

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