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Glorious gore

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on June 17, 2016

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Once a week for the past eight weeks I’ve been indulging a secret obsession. It goes by the acronym GOT or Game of Thrones. It is, of course, the enthralling mega-hit TV serial based on the books of the same name, by American author GRR Martin. The story is set in a make-believe feudal world, similar to but not identical with the Earth, in which a vast cast of warriors and wenches, dragons and dire-wolves are engaged in a multi-generational struggle for power.

My co-conspirator is Muriel. She has a wide-screen TV. Bins and I have only our computers and Netflix but no TV. Fresh episodes of Season Six of the show air late on Sunday nights but I sneak off to Muriel’s home on Monday mornings to watch it. Why? Because Bins disapproves of the show. “It’s too violent,” he says. “Have you seen how the lady-characters are treated? They’re at the mercy of their menfolk! Either they’re being raped or they’re lying naked in someone’s bed smiling in a sexy way! FemiNazis like you cannot approve of it!” According to him, those who watch the show are so depraved that we enjoy the sight of human guts pouring out of slashed bellies.

Initially, I agreed with him. I couldn’t even get through the first 10 chapters of the first book. There are supposed to be seven in all, but only the first five have been written. But over the months and now years that the serial has been appearing on TV, I have gradually been seduced. It’s my sister’s fault, really: she began watching it, became wholly engrossed, said that I needed to get into it and then — this is the ultimate hook — invited me to watch the saved versions of the show, free of commercials and distractions, on her generously proportioned TV, in her home.

That was a year ago and now I am a fully committed “Westeros” junkie. Muriel is too. But when I get to her house today and the two of us are just settling in, who should ring her doorbell but Bins. “Aha!!” he fairly shrieks, thrilled to catch me in an out-and-out lie. “So THIS is your grocery shopping, huh!” Muriel and I sigh and roll our eyes. We can’t even pretend that we’re watching CNN or National Geographic because the hypnotic GOT theme-music has already begun thrumming. “Oh just hush-up and sit down,” I say to Bins. “It’s a really exciting episode.”

To my amazement, he does as he is told. Not only that, but he seems to follow all the twists and turns of the by now extremely complicated plot. “Ha! That Blackfish? He’ll never give up the castle. And Cersei, she’s something, no? Scheming Queen, tragic mother, incestuous lover. And as for Daenerys – wah! She has really grown into a goddess, huh?”

It turns out he has been watching on the sly all along, on his computer. “So what does that mean?” I ask him. “Are you as depraved as the rest of us?” He grins and shrugs, his blue eyes twinkling. “Of course!” he says. “I am only human.”

Manjula Padmanabhan, artist and author, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, in this weekly column

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Published on June 17, 2016
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