The Epiphany

Broken marriages and increasing divorce rates, often leave shattered self-worth and simmering resentments in their wake.The vitriolic bitterness with which several couples lash out at each other is often several notches higher than what the situation would warrant.It’s regrettable to see how two people, who actually start off by liking each other enough to get married and with a cup full of shared memories,still end up with so much bitterness.

But then broken marriages is much more than just people.It’s about changing circumstances, priorities and personalities.People who should have never have got married in the first place, sometimes end up together.And the bitterness at the situation and the “what could have been”, manifests against the other person. Two great people need not always make a great couple and that’s something which often gets overlooked in the barbs and insinuations that inevitably follow. Life was never fair but we don’t take it kindly when one day, we are suddenly made to realize that ourselves.

Unfortunately there are far too few cases, where the adults are mature enough to understand that a broken marriage doesn’t define their own worth as people and separate gracefully.

While some are able to move on quite easily and start life anew, for some the separation is just as painful as death of a loved one. And akin to grief phases, a separation trauma also goes through several phases, before a person starts accepting and seeing the other as a ‘human’ with normal fallibility again. And it is perhaps at this juncture, that one starts the process of living all over again.

Today, I am featuring a beautiful short film by Neeraj Ghaywan – The Epiphany.Running time: 21 Mins


Advised reading from here after viewing:

I loved the way the differing personalities of the couple has been brought out. The simmering tension that is evident right from the start, has been built up superbly.A chance encounter and a sudden chain of events lead to the faint rays of acceptance shining through, bringing forth this very interesting aspect of human behavior. The bond that develops between people handling the same stressful situation.A shared vulnerability that also inspires a shared connection and support, which finally worked to break down the walls between the divorced couple.

On a separate note, I also admired the way the aspect of right vs. wrong has been brought out and people not being essentially “good” or “bad”. The fact that even good people get caught up in the humdrum of daily existence is a very good wake up call.At times,all one needs is someone who shakes you hard enough, for the cobwebs of apathy to fall away.

Ahalya

Sometimes a moment of weakness is all it takes, for the vision to blur and for the world to come crashing down. That millisecond in time when, in the battle between the right and the wrong, the good and the bad, the wrong wins. A momentary lapse in judgement and one loses sight of one’s own compass.

But does a moment of weakness define a person.

The deed would definitely determine the intensity of the misstep. What is but a small lapse of overindulging on a scrumptious cake, cannot be likened to a more serious crime committed in a provoked, heat of the moment.And for the very same reason, pre-mediated murder and voluntary manslaughter have been accorded their distinctions in courts of law.
But what if such moments occurred with unerring regularity? I would think, if that indeed were the case, one should be more equipped to guard against the mis-step versus a sudden one-time manifestation of an emotion.

Today I would like to present the much acclaimed Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya (Running time: 15 Mins). A short film seeped in suspense and intrigue.Having purposely withheld from discussing anything about the film,as it’s difficult to do so without revealing too much, let me take the liberty of continuing with the rest of my ruminations after the movie.I would also advice you to refrain from reading my post any further until you have watched it.

 

Spoiler Alert from here:

Watching the movie after having read virtually next to nothing about it, was a big plus and I enjoyed it purely as a entertaining thriller with the unexpectedly spooky and eerie ending.Hopefully you too were not restricted by the baggage of knowledge and the resultant filter that would have imposed.

Eventual reading of multiple reviews revealed, that it is being touted as a “contemporary or rather a feminist remake” of the old story of Ahalya. To quickly recap,

“In the old story of Ahalya, Ahalya who was the wife of the old sage Gautam, has an adulterous relationship with Indra (who dupes her by taking the form of Gautam) and on being discovered, both Ahalya and Indra are cursed. There are variations to the story on whether Ahalya was innocent and was actually duped or was a knowing partner in the act. Innocent or otherwise, in all versions, she’s cursed to being a stone.”

I would be hard-pressed to call it a “feminist remake” essentially because even the modern day Ahalya doesn’t seem to be controlling the sequence of events, rather seems to be more of a bait for the unsuspecting visitor.I also do not subscribe to the opinion that a feminist retake infers re-casting the woman in the role of the aggressor rather than a victim.

Terming it ‘contemporary’ is more apt, even if the link to the old seems tenuous.Interesting, in the older version of the story, at least one out of the three main characters had an unblemished character, versus Ghosh’s version where all the three have personality cracks.The inspector suffers a grave consequence for a moment of weakness. Would he have been more culpable,if it had been pre-mediated like Indra’s.

Afterglow

Short films are a wonderful genre, which is befitting today’s fast-paced times, when one wants to watch something entertaining and thought provoking in a short span of time. Low budget, mostly non-commercial films which often-times act as a prequel for film makers to establish themselves in a bigger panorama, they reflect a rich tapestry of brilliant art work. The time span for these films demands brevity and ingenuity on the part of the film makers.

Through the blog, I intend to curate and highlight some of the beautiful short films from around the world.

Afterglow ( Running time : 20 Mins) directed by Kaushal Oza is a beautiful one to start this series.The story revolves around a recently widowed Parsi woman who receives a lot of unsolicited condolence visitors. It also throws up a lot of thought provoking situations.How does one react when faced with the certain death of a spouse or a family member ? Can certain ‘death’ be taken in a ‘matter of fact’ manner and be deemed inevitable and can one actually move on with the business of living.As one comes to terms with inherently ‘abnormal’ situations, normalcy tends to set in over a period of time and depicts the underlying resilience of the human nature to survive.

To bring humor into something inherently depressive is a master stroke and that’s where the genius of the film maker shines through. Juxtaposing the dark and light moments adds amazing vibrancy and depth to the film.

The condolence visitors & the well-wishers add a comic banality to the grimness of the event.Everyone who has gone through intense personal grief, would identify with this very realistic aspect of condolence visitors.
I liked this movie’s subtle dealing of myriad aspects of human behavior which is set amidst the rich Parsi traditions. Do watch it and tell me if you liked it.

Sunset at 60 ?

While gender stereotyping is a very prevalent topic these days, there is another which is equally pervasive and might be harder to classify as black or white.Stereotyping of the elderly and the overarching expectation to conform or to risk being judged.A short while ago I happened to chance on this article on Facebook.

http://www.themetrognome.in/grey-space/why-i-refused-to-take-care-of-my-grandkids

And it brought to the fore a lot of thoughts I had on the subject of stereotyping of elders in the society.

sunset

Young grandchildren invariably imply a duty for the grandparents,if the parents happen to be working professionals. While it is perfectly understandable and a great arrangement,if both parties are amenable to it. It is most certainly not,if the grandparents would rather have a choice and freedom on the subject. Implicitly assuming that one’s parents should drop everything on their plate and come to look after the grandchildren smacks of inconsideration. Whether they really have a lot on their plate or not, is also of little consequence.

The problem revolves around choice. Do grandparents really have a choice to say ‘No’. If they do, do they risk of being judged by everybody around including their own children. The comments to the article above also interestingly implies,that to be looked after in old age, looking after the grandchildren is the price one must pay.
“And I shall have my pound of flesh..” said Shylock. If relationships are indeed so transactional , then where is the pound of flesh for bringing up the children themselves.

As people get older, our society starts putting the emphasis on religion and ritualistic traditions.The unsaid expectation of withdrawal from worldly affairs looms larger with progressing age and any inclination of wanting to enjoy material interests is only looked down upon. While declining importance of materialistic interests and progress along the spiritual path is the aspiration of many spiritual seekers, its correlation to age, puts an undue strain on an individual and snatches away the choice of how one wants to live. Spirituality as a way of life can only be by choice. Though I did take a recourse to talking about religion and spirituality in the same breath, vast differences in the way they are practiced is a topic for another day.

Closely following on its heals and an offshoot of declining materialistic interests is the restriction on forming any romantic liaisons. Do desires die when one is old ? A controversial topic by any standard, but the fact remains that desires don’t die a sudden death. One just chooses to exert a control on desires which are not appropriate.While lonely people finding companions at the fag end of life is perfectly acceptable abroad, here it would be a complete taboo. Although single men &
women remarrying is gaining more acceptance, the taboo still remains strong against somebody considered past the hill.Films like ‘Cheeni kum’ explored this topic to a certain extent,challenging accepted societal norms.

In a society which has strict codes of conduct laid out for almost every strata of society, breaking norms definitely draws eyebrows.And if those are of your own flesh and blood, then it becomes even more onerous.While the article in question did talk about a point-in-time event, it resulted from years of upbringing of the very same children who were not taught the importance of giving space and consideration for another’s view. The root of the problem which lies not in parent-child relationships but in all relationships is giving “space” – one of the most critical foundation for any healthy relationship.Again, that is a post for another day…

The Perennial Sniffles

A mini explosion threatened to bring the house down.The decibel was loud enough to send people scurrying out of their houses in panic.My husband and son slumbered on. All was well with the world. They were so accustomed to the comforting sounds by now, that at times, the absence of it caused some confusion.It was an impending disaster as I scampered frantically around the house with my eyes streaming. I berated myself for the hundredth time for not being more scrupulous. Suddenly I spotted the small bottle peeping out from the back of the medicine cabinet and pounced on it with relief.

1048240-cartoon-businesswoman-sneezing-poster-art-print

I was afflicted with the dreadful nasal allergies.

The family woke up grudgingly after being subjected to an intense stress testing of their sleeping abilities.But decided not to hazard asking delicate questions and conspicuously avoided the red eyes and twitching nose.The nasal explosions were timed to occur when both my hands were strategically occupied. When the collision between culinary and nasal catastrophes appeared imminent, I was forced to dash to the bathroom. The family was rather used to seeing me whizzing between the kitchen and the bathroom as I was prone to do most mornings.And woe betide anybody who managed to get in the path of a trampling rhino. My streaming eyes and nose were deterrent enough to scatter everybody a mile away. I wondered why I never had the common sense to build a wash basin inside my kitchen.

I had visited numerous shady-clinics and not-so-shady clinics who promised to put an end to my perennial watering nose.The only thing I know,unaffected by seasonality,droughts or global warming.But all I have to show for the innumerable visits and my famished purse,are the rows and rows of small empty bottles which now hold some vegetable seeds.I steamed my face till I resembled a lobster, but my sniffles were made of sterner stuff.

I walked around with an air purifier mask,opening it only to eat or sneeze.For some strange reason, a neighbor hurriedly closed the door after one look at my incongruous appearance.I slept with it and wouldn’t have been surprised to have frightened a burglar or two if the torch light had happened to fall upon my rather grotesque visage.Somebody suggested that I stand on my head as apparently the sniffles didn’t like being suspended upside down, but mine didn’t seem to mind them one bit.In fact, just to show that they were a good sport, they tried to see how I would react if they timed the explosion right when I was all knotted up.

I googled and searched till even the great Google was rendered mum on the matter. For my efforts, I was rewarded by finding one of my enemies.They looked like prehistoric dragons with tentacled feet.The dust mites which ruled the world of mattresses and bedding.But finding all the enemies which affected me was far more tedious than finding horcruxes.

Relationships have been threatened by fungus laden houses whose thresholds I absolutely refused to enter. Yellowed books telling stories of an age gone by in forgotten library shelves, were better to be forgotten for the sake of my nose.But even more curious was my apparent allergies to all ‘green’ soaps. I gasp for air when the household decides to spray themselves with noxious perfumes. Not for me, a romantic tête-à-tête where the man’s perfume comes wafting.I snorted derisively as a salesman tried to sell me those small pieces of cloth they call ladies’ kerchiefs, who quietly slunk away when he saw the mammoth towels I carried in my purse.

But there are times when it has saved the day. A calm and serene home stay in the plantations and the silence only broken by the singing of the crickets and sudden explosions.During one of his nocturnal birding forays as my husband was figuring out the way home, the far away sound of sneezing was like a beacon, aiding the way to poor lost souls. I was well suited to become a foghorn directing far away ships through the correct course.

Of course, all this became thankfully not-so-ubiquitous, once I found my savior. I would unceremoniously dump the knight in shining armor anyday for a small round pill called Montek-LC, quite unrelated to the noted economist.A quarter of a pill and I manage to keep the devil at bay. Whoever had coined that saying about apples, hadn’t heard of Montek or didnt have the foggiest clue about the sniffles.Stranded without food or water doesn’t scare me one bit, but stranded without my beloved Montek will have me quaking in my boots.

The time has come and I call upon all the allergy afflicted in the world to unite and come forth to form the Allergix Anonymous(AA).If you think you can be member of this elite society, then you need to stake a claim and prove that you deserve it!

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