Words of Parting
By Mike Derderian
People come and people go just like the sea’s ebb and flow. In our office they came and they went. It is the cycle of life they say but to me it was like sitting close to an oasis, where people thirsting for water arrived every full moon. I arrived like many before me but I decided that it wasn’t water that I only wanted.
I thirst for words that I can arrange every week in my Cinerama. Last week I found myself scouring for words at the seabed of my soul. It wasn’t easy for alas, Ali is gone. He decided to move on; I stayed, I don’t know why?
Ali, my editor, once told me that a person should not hang around his workplace more than five years or people would call him/her a failure. A person must move on and move up in life, he told me.
So why is Ali leaving The Star? As Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 The God Father would aptly put it, “the company that he will be working for made him an offer he could not refuse.”
One thing though, it is not easy to part with your memories or the people you have been working with. Every week I do it by writing about a movie that I have seen on television many years ago. Movies that I fell in love deeply. Sure every now and then I write about newly released pictures, broadcast on some satellite channel; but if that is a crime lock me away and throw away the key. I breathe, eat, drink and even sleep holding movies instead of a pillow.
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) kissing Marion (Karen Allen) in Steven Spielberg’s 1981 Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Last Ark; Sally (Liza Minneli) crossing her left leg over a reversed wooden chair in a nightclub in Nazi Berlin in Bob Fosse 1972 Cabaret; Cary Grant dodging a two winger in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 North by Northwest; Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) dragging an unwilling Paul Varjak (George Peppard) to Tiffanys in Blake Edwards’ 1961 Breakfast at Tiffanys; Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) fighting her way up into life in Clint Eastwood’s 2004 Million Dollar Baby; Salvatore watching a bewitching Grace Kelly from Alfredo’s (Philppe Noiret) projection room in Giuseppe Toranatore’s 1989 Cinema Paradiso and David (Haley Joel Osment) crying after his mother in Steven Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence: A.I are some of the thousands of scenes that stuck in my mind over the years.
My friendship with Ali is now forever part of that cerebral repertoire despite of our differences as individuals. I mean whenever our views clashed I always pictured myself wearing a Darth Vader outfit (James Earl Jones voice kit included), hurling with all my might my light saber against Ali Wan Kenobi’s light sabers.
Ali was more than an editor to me; he was a catalyst and a tough one too. I admit at times I hated being pushed to a corner but that’s what life is all about: You being pushed against corners.
The assignments, broken deadlines, heated arguments, disappointment and satisfaction, omitted sentences and paragraphs and punch lines were what we had.
“I grew accustomed to his face”, quoting Dr Dolittle (Rex Harrison) in Richard Fleischer’s 1967 musical of the same title. This time there is no “I’ll be back” for captain Ali, who “will boldly go where no man has gone before.” Maybe this week’s column should be dabbed Cliché-rama instead of Cinerama.
The following lines are dedicated to Ali, who as life sometimes dictates has to move on:
Shivers of immortality/ Trembles of futility/ Brought about/ At twelve thirty/ It is past midnight/ All by now are alight/ All alone am I affright/ Even though I am surrounded by light? / An urge I hopelessly feign to fight/ So I write and I write/ Before in haste I to my den flight.
Remembering Han Solo’s (a very young Harrison Ford) words to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) before he boarded the X-wing fighter in George Lucas’s 1977 Star Wars, all I can say for now is “Hey, ‘Ali’… may the Force be with you” the same way it always was with me.