Monday, 21 May 2018

ARE YOU READY TO THROW A STARFISH INTO THE WAVES?



"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4



It’s most likely that in life we have sometime or the other been disappointed with someone or something. It could be the behaviour of someone we know or do not know personally, that has disenchanted us. What matters however, is what we do with our feelings. Though we wish for change, we very rarely exercise our powers of reformation.
The moment of anger and dissatisfaction could be at a personal level which may have led to a heartbreaking moment or it could have been at a societal platform. It could be that we had gone through moments where nothing seemed to budge in the direction of change. 
At times like that we could be everyday waking up with our eyes sparkling with stars of hope and yet at night having to go to sleep with unsatisfactory pillows of world-weariness. But then, such are the times we need to hold on to our strength of belief in ourselves, because every sunset has the hope of something beautiful coming up the next day. If we are just and composed, we need to have faith that the one in us is far stronger than the one outside.

If at all we let go of this hope in the authority in ourselves, it is because we make assumptions about ourselves; not truly knowing our own capabilities. Such false beliefs then become a load we have to bear along our walks in life and they being heavy, make our journey nothing less than an affliction. Such assumptions therefore need to be scrubbed off to allow the light of our capacities to enter and brighten up the window of understanding, opening it to the fresh breeze of hope in our inner strength. We need not let people or situations or circumstances rule our calm judgement but instead awaken ourselves from the dream of failure and open our eyes to the reality of success;  our birthright.

A classic example of such sense of strength was seen in the present day’s beautiful Royal Bride, Meghan Markle’s feminist activism at the tender age of eleven. This young lady then felt something terribly wrong with an advertisement of a dish soap manufactured by Procter &Gamble and voiced her concern by writing letters to the company expressing her feelings when she heard the words, ‘Women are fighting greasy pots and pans with Ivory Dish Soap’.  The young Markel was so very annoyed regarding the compartmentalizing of women into the kitchen job, that she corresponded to anyone who would listen to her, including Hillary Clinton. She could have thought, ‘whoever is going to listen to my expressions, it’s all so silly and useless’ and let it be just that, resting as a grumbletonian. Then of course, nothing would have changed; but her action in spite of little scope of hope for change did wonders. The commercial was changed and the word ‘women’ was replaced by the word ‘people’.
Merkel was alone in that campaign and many of us are today alone in our campaigns; but we can fight for our beliefs and hope to succeed. For what else would life be but a long scrap of experiences falling our way if we had no corrective reactions towards them!
This reminds me of the story, ‘The Starfish’, where  a young boy throwing stranded starfish from the sandy beach back into the ocean, caught the eye of an old traveller, who asked him the reason for such activity. The lad answered that if he were not to help those echinoderms, they would die when the heat of the sun would dry up all the water. The traveller felt the boy was ridiculous because there were millions of starfish on the beach which stretched for thousands of miles. He shrugged his shoulders completely unconvinced by the answer and voiced his pessimistic opinion, ‘It doesn’t matter how many you throw in; you can’t make a difference’. But the boy simply smiled, picked up another starfish and threw it into the water and said, ‘But it makes to this one’.
Change doesn’t always need to begin with a big number. Even a little can make a big difference for someone.
Image Credits: Google

Friday, 18 May 2018

HOW OLD ARE YOU?


   
“They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.”
Psalm 71:9

On the 9th of this month as I sat in a taxi in Kuala Lumpur, the driver had lots to share with me. It was the Election Day there and the man was angry with his government and the corruption his country had been going through for years and yet was hopefully happy that the polls held that day would bring a clean change with the new Prime Minister. He proudly showed me his coloured finger to state that he had voted for transformation.

Mahathir Mohamad, who had once ruled Malaysia with an iron fist from 1981 to 2003 had now got a comeback by a commanding majority to the opposition. His second innings today, is no ordinary success story because he is the oldest elected leader in the world at the age of 92.

This just proves that age is only a number, which we need not keep concentrating on. In fact as we grow older we must be happier that we have the capability to give up silly distractions which would otherwise eat up a lot of our precious time in all their immaturity. We must be proud that our grey streaks can help us to focus on things valuable to us and others.

I happen to be acquainted with an octogenarian who is battling his way through cancer with a smile. Unlike an otherwise youthful man he does not spend time worrying about his future though he is all by himself. He is a ripe bachelor and has no family to love him back or miss him. But that does not deter him from being happy. He believes in dealing with what has happened rather than being stressed about it. He is an educator in real life, who has taught me that I can choose to adapt to any situation; seen or unforeseen. He has taught me that I have a choice to be knocked down by things happening to me or to stand strong and face them boldly. This is a lesson in adulthood; it’s not about what I can achieve when I grow old but what I can accomplish because I choose to reach it in spite of my age. It’s a different vision of the whole dilemma which makes it into a possibility of overcoming the hurdle and collecting pleasant cookies of a new understanding.

Mr. Maathir Mohamad’s success today teaches us that we need not bury our passions as we age; but instead, we can reinvent ourselves in a better light of newness. He has taught us that our life is a product of what we make of it and that we can add pages of new brands into it.

Ageing therefore, can be made beautiful with new moments of opportunity and vigour and less of dwelling in regrets. It’s good to remember your birthday but as Satchel Paige would ask, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” In 1959, this baseball player’s mother announced to a reporter that her son was 55 rather than 53, and that she was certain about it because she had written it down in her Bible. Paige wrote in his autobiography, "Seems like Mom's Bible would know, but she ain't ever shown me the Bible. Anyway, she was in her nineties when she told the reporter that, and sometimes she tended to forget things."

Wouldn’t you call that the spirit of youthfulness?
Picture Credits: Google

Monday, 14 May 2018

AN APPETIZING MEMORY


Picture a little chubby baby girl of may be four or five years of innocence in all, sitting on the ground in her skin and coloured in mango juice. Yes, that was me years ago living in the age of purity, innocence and incorruptibility. The king of the fruits was my favourite!  As soon as the fruit would flood the market, my mother would bring dozens to be enjoyed by all at home. There were no shakes or deserts or ice-creams or faloodas or as a matter of fact any other extensions of it. It was left to be consumed in all its basic rawness - just as it came.
The most vivid picture of me set in my mind, as my mother had often described it later to me when I was all grown up and filled with etiquettes of refined living was deliciously sweet though quite embarrassing. As told by her to me and not that I remember any of it honestly, she would place me most comfortably dressed only in my frilly panties in the middle of the room so that my body would not touch any furniture in the house. I would be made to sit longingly on the spread of old newspapers while she wiped the yummy fruit in front of my eyes, lifting it up from a vessel of cool water it had been soaked into for a few hours. Like Pavlov's dog, my mouth would begin to water and then as soon as the plate would be kept in front of me the indulgence would begin. The fruit as usual was so appetizing that I would instantly begin pumping it with my tiny fingers and pull at its flavours into my hungry mouth, generously feeding it to my whole body as if transforming myself into a satiated mango baby. I must have been a sight to see!
On the side, my mum would keep water for heating so that the moment my indulgence would be over, she would lift me up and put me into a nice warm bucket of water to cleanse myself of the flavour of the season and smell like a baby and not a mango till the next day.
Honestly, I don't see children eating that way anymore. Probably no one anymore has that faith in the purity of the fruit. With the kind of stories of pesticides and what not floating around, I wouldn't blame them for cutting the fruit and testing its insides before giving it to their children. The laborious and exciting manner of eating is no more the delight of the kids. In fact, some children, I have heard do not even bite into pieces of the fruit. Their mothers remove its pulp and they eat that from bowls, its pristine essence all lost with the touch of the spoon.
This season, I ordered a mango chocolate cake for my kids thinking that they would delight in it but I was proved wrong. What I heard from them took me back to the good of days with of the frilly panties and newspapers under them. 'Mum, you can't mix a king with anything lower than his status. He is complete in himself.' Truly my mother had known this truth in the days gone by and probably had whispered her grass root understanding to my kids.
Pic.courtesy: Google

Friday, 4 May 2018

LAUGH IN FORGIVENESS



The first Sunday of May every year, is celebrated as World Laughter Day and it was Dr. Madan Kataria from India, (also addressed as the ‘Guru of Giggling’ by London Times) who founded this Yoga movement for self healing. The world today appears to be filled with hate ideologies, loneliness syndrome and an epidemic of sadness, and if there needs to be a change to be brought into this scenario, laughter is definitely a positive and powerful emotion which has all that an individual needs for self transformation; internal as well as external. What is most amazing in this treatment is that it is the most peaceful and positive way to bring about a modification. Research has proved that a person’s facial expressions have an effect on his emotions and therefore even if one is deeply destroyed from within, an artificially laughing face is likely to gradually bring about a change. No harm therefore in trying out this most inexpensive method to move towards global consciousness of brotherhood and harmony.
All experiences in life come with a package of lessons to be learnt from. It’s a pleasure when we come across gentle and loving people who make life like a holiday sailing on smooth waters; but if we come across storms of strange happenings or tsunamis of relationships then we feel hurt, betrayed and broken but then the sail of forgiveness helps us cross the ocean to safer lands.
 An eye for an eye will make the world blind; however not everyone can abide by this generous philosophy of forgiveness. But what if we do encounter someone who wishes to follow this principle of peace? Do we have any right to barge into their private world of emotions and stop their personal course of healing?
Forgiveness doesn’t come easy especially if someone has wronged you in an unimaginable way. And yet life gives us numerous examples of people who use this devise to overcome the most awful situations which have damaged them irreparably. Their stories seem unbelievable and make us wonder if they are supernatural beings to have forgiven the most horrendous things which had happened to them. Further probing gets us to the core of the reason of such behaviour. Hate, anger and revenge had gone so deep into their gut that they were going through constipation of emotions which needed a laxative to let go.
A very recent case creating uproar in the news is Sabrina Lall’s letter to the Tihar Jail, mentioning no objection from her side for the release of her sister’s murderer. Many people have since then begun pouncing on her, objecting to her decision as if law and order would alter its judgement on her emotional base.
It was way back in 1999 at midnight that Manu Sharma, the son of a powerful congress politician from Haryana walked into a bar and shot a girl for refusing him a drink. This had happened in the presence of all the other elegant and refined crowd present there at the time. It was a sudden and shocking death of a beautiful life. Obviously now being a VVIP case, it was not going to be an easy battle in the midst of a horrible system of legality which presumably supported the rich, the famous and the influential.
This was one of the rarest of rare cases which brought out crowds of citizens on the streets; angry at the audaciousness of the act. There were candlelight vigils and protest rallies; people everywhere wanted justice against a system that supported the powerful. Jessica, overnight became a symbol of the common man’s fight against power. The effect of such gross injustice of mankind and fate had its deep effect on her parents too, whose life soon got shattered and immobilised with grief.
Jessica’s sister Sabrina was no more her only relative fighting the legal battle against Sharma. The nation became her relatives and the case began its long tryst until 2006 when the culprit was put behind bars in the Tihar Jail and sentenced to life imprisonment as found guilty of murder. It was at last a successful journey of anger, hate, revenge and justice.
Now after almost two decades since her sister’s murder, one would think that Sabrina would be feeling victorious; till suddenly she wakes up one day and writes a letter of forgiveness to the Tihar Jail regarding Sharma. Fifteen years have passed by with Sharma behind bars and ............. ‘What the hell is she doing? It had not been her lone fight. Such criminals must never be forgiven. Life imprisonment is the only option for Sharma. Forgiveness for him should be a dream’, scream the people of the nation. No one realises today, that while they had fought for humanity, Sabrina had fought for her blood sister. With justice handed over, they had gone home victorious but Sabrina had returned to a house without her sibling and which soon even got vacant of her parents. No one seems to understand that forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness. It only means to let go of the anger and release of oneself from the clutches of odium to grab peace. Sabrina probably felt the need to heal her body and soothe her mind in spite of the worst that had happened to her. She probably reached a summit from where she realised that sorrows of the past could be undone. Probably she heard whispers from future, calling her to move on.
Mahatma Gandhi had said that, ‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’, and I wonder if all those people who today are angry with regards to her letter to the Tihar Jail, have even the slightest understanding of her emotional drain since so many years. Of course she knows for sure that Sharma's brutish actions deserve no mercy, but she also is smart enough to want her share of calm. If she once had the strength to have fought tooth and nail for justice, today, we as a nation must respect the intensity of her need for peace. Her letter is not telling the government or law and order to move on; it is only communicating that she as a family member desires to progress in freedom from strife. Forgiveness today for Sabrina may be like a pair of scissors with which she wants to cut all soul bondage with her culprit Sharma and set free her Spirit in independence from slavery to hate and instead enjoy its original state of happiness and laugh out loud after decades of pain and tears in spite of being jubilant in law.

Sabrina must have cried over and over again for years and has now decided to use her power of today to laugh in forgiveness. Of course, everybody knows that forgiveness heals; but Sabrina knows that doing is better than knowing. I support Sabrina in her free will to exercise her preference of emotion. What about you?
Image credits: Google

Friday, 27 April 2018

DON’T LET THIS OPPORTUNITY PASS BY



She was dejected with life and said that they didn’t understand nor respect her anymore. It seemed strange that people could be so harsh, that friends could get so judgemental and family so angry. Why, what had happened to this 17 year old to feel so horrible? The answer was flimsy. She had cleared her biology paper in the second attempt. People around her had failed to participate in her joy of clearing something that was initially difficult for her and had instead with all their sadism held on to her past failure.
Such stories today are not uncommon around us. Dejections, frustrations, disappointments, discouragements, despair, melancholy have set as if a blanket of gloom over people of all ages. Some are unable to clear exams, some are unable to clear relationships and some are unable to have a clear picture of life. They seem to always find fingers pointing towards them and these are sharp pokes. They hurt and therefore seek help. Not necessarily professional help because the problem may not be too deep though too painful. All they need is ears which have time to listen to tears - the expressions of words.
Of course we all know too well that we are living in an electronically connected world which has got us so entangled in the hands free mode that we have almost forgotten to make use of our limbs to lift up the ones bent in sorrow or even hold their palms and lead them out of a hurting mind. They are the others whom some others like us make little attempt to understand. Our world today has got disjointed. Many families here have failed to understand that their members are different people with different adequacies. Our world today needs coaching lessons to be non-judgemental about differences. What may be absolutely facile for one member of the family, may be a herculean task for another.
A perfect way to demonstrate this is to watch the Marathi film Kaasav – A Turtle. The turtle in the film is a metaphor for conservation. We need to have the spirit to conserve our people who seem to have a different mindset and vision to view happenings around them. Maanav, the youth in the film is a typical youngster battling his way through life. A smart young student, he feels a misfit at home as well as in society and steps out so completely dejected with life that he feels no reason why he must continue to allow it to exist in him and cuts his wrist and sits to bleed. What is to be noticed here is that before he does this, he throws away his mobile charger probably indicating the need for a humane touch and not just a touch screen. Miraculously though he gets saved and is picked up by a good soul; Janaki, who has suffered loneliness and has travelled from America to her hometown in search of silent existence. Since she has a caring heart, she gets offered to work on a project to save turtles on a beach in Goa. In the silence of this place where the only sounds one can hear are of birds and waves lashing on the beach, she takes care of Maanav allowing him to open up at his own pace. There is communication that happens in the silence of words. The tragedy of our times is that we are so lost in the cacophony of words that we fail to give silence its due credit as a healer. In our impatience we rush to give healing and fail to understand that time heals best. There are some turtle people in our world and we need to preserve them. In this rushing fast coach world, there are some slow coaches who would do perfectly well if they were allowed to move at a turtle’s pace. There would be times when they would come out and open up and there would be times when they would wish to hide under their thick shells; safe and away from the predators of scorns and ridicule.
As a society, we need to become like Janaki working towards conserving them because they are also a part of the future of our world. The problem does not lie in them, but in our understanding of their different capabilities. The turtles, though not capable of putting a few miles per hour, can swim as fast as 22 mph. They just need the right space to move. Another peculiarity of the turtles is that the mother turtle lays eggs and then moves away back into the sea. The babies hatch and begin their journey independently towards the waters. These turtles are seen to have tears in their eyes. Scientifically speaking they need to run the tear glands continuously to maintain the correct balance of salt in their bodies and these tears also help flush sand from their eyes. Some people however imagine that these tears are because they have to leave their children behind and they cry consistently even in the sea because whenever they see baby turtles they wonder if these are their own babies. A stranger thing beyond these tears is that there are butterflies which have been spotted who actually drink these tears. What a startling behaviour one can say! It is because they gather minerals through these tears. To stretch the metaphor further one could say that we need butterflies like Janaki who can drink the tears of such turtles and build up on their worth of empathy.
Probably, if we cannot listen to the sound of tears, we are truly a handicap world.
pic. credit: Google

Monday, 16 April 2018




THIS TIME IT WAS IN A TEMPLE
Something really ugly happened once again in my country.  Religion, the barb of the devil once more hit hard. Eight kilometres away from the kathua’s Rasana village, there now  lies a five-foot long grave of an eight year olds raped and damaged body. Reports say that the Rasana Hindus did not allow the burial pit to be dug in their village saying that the property belonged to them. So in spite of the winter cold of January, the girl’s father had to carry her body uphill to Kanah village to find place for its burial.
As my nation once again grieves such an inhuman act which often arises out of illogical and senseless beliefs and of course colossal greed, I sit and stare at several messages circulating on social media. Some are expressing their solidarity with anger by keeping their display picture black and some are keeping it purple as a memory of the film ‘Color Purple’ which accordingly represented women abused by men. Some are writing poems of grief and some are expressing anger in hate words. It all ultimately hurts deep. A question that keeps coming to my mind is, why did that little innocent girl have to suffer so much?
In 2012, it was in a moving bus, at times it had been in homes and on lonely streets but this time it was the worst. It was in a temple! The victim was a Muslim and the rapists were Hindus. The charge sheet said that she was tortured and killed to scare the community away. It was a revenge story - a story that began in disputes of land and led to vengeance, one that began with disputes of religions and found solace in hate. Hate, that went so very inward that it ruined the capacity to think right. I often wonder at how much the hater must be hurting inside. The ‘Yours and the Ours’ virus corrodes humanity and transforms healthy men and women into animals bereft of the sense of the right and the wrong. The little farm girl who hadn’t been to school to learn numbers but could count her horses, took responsibility that her family’s cattle were brought back to their farmhouse by the time the sun set in the evenings. She was a bold girl who dared to run down rocky terrains through isolated jungles to bring back the lost animals. Little did she know that there were beasts lurking around to devour her innocence, because their minds were parched and they thirsted for blood, because their faith had crossed the line of common sense, because their learning had all gotten wrong since they had been taught that their god was different from her god. Little did she know that the temple where they took her had no god in it but clay fixtures with eyes and ears drawn on them; eyes which couldn’t see her pain and ears which couldn’t hear her screams.
Oh what a pity that the devil has chosen man as his target to destroy man! What a pity that he has made weapons the human eye can’t see; weapons of aversion, lust and greed. This gruesome act of hate reminded me of the famous short story of Leo Tolstoy, ‘How Much Land Does a Man Need?’ Tolstoy had written this piece in the year 1886, expressing futility of man’s greed; and yet after more than a hundred years the story continues to try to edify the ignorant. The Devil in the story hears the tussle of man groping for more than necessary and says, “All right...... We will have a tussle. I’ll give you land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power.”  An opportunity arises for the protagonist of purchasing a communal land but it does not find success because, “The Evil one sowed discord among them, and they could not agree.” So then the individuals buy land separately. The protagonist, finally after a lot of debt, manages to purchase land and becomes a land owner. Now, “The grass that grew and the flowers that bloomed there, seemed to him unlike any that grew elsewhere” because it was his land. But soon his peace was to be shattered because the neighbouring peasants began to trespass his fields.....the herdsmen would let the village cows stray into his meadows, then horses from the night pasture would get among his corn.” In spite of turning them out again and again they would not cease and so at last, “he lost his patience and complained to the District Court” although he knew that there was only basic need and no evil in the intent of the peasants. However, his pride and avarice made him think differently. “I cannot go on overlooking it, or they will destroy all I have. They must be taught a lesson.” Gradually scenes changed and his desires became bigger and he continued his new purchases till one day he met an owner who sold land saying, “As much as you can go round on your feet in a day is yours, and the price is one thousand roubles a day” but the condition was that, “If you don’t return on the same day to the spot whence you started, your money is lost.” While asleep with contentment about becoming a very big landowner, the protagonist dreamt of “the Devil...sitting there and chuckling, and before him lay a man barefoot, prostrate on the ground, with only trousers and a shirt on”, and when he looked better he saw that “the man was dead and it was himself!” He awoke horror-struck but brushed aside his dream, as “what things one does dream” and didn’t realize that perhaps it was the voice of his conscience trying to awaken him. Next morning he had to conquer as much land as he could on his feet. His materialism kept him going till he realized that “All my labour has gone in vain”. He lay dead on the ground with “blood flowing from his mouth”. Soon spades were picked up and a grave long enough for him to be buried was dug. “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed”.
As the court trial goes on and the culprit’s faces flash in my face, I wonder how much land will they need when their time is done?
Pic. credits: Google

Sunday, 31 December 2017

A SERENE AND UNRUFFLED LIFE


Storms do exist. It’s not freedom from such storms but the peace within in spite of them that leaves man unruffled. In fact life moves on at peace; it’s man, who in his greed gives rise to storms.

Read a beautiful children’s story today. It was about a community of people who believed that if they gave long names to their children then the length of those names would fetch great fortune for the kids. To exemplify this belief, the writer introduces a family who has named their son, Yani Matadi Utama Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Khare Lalikhuna.

There is another community which believes in humility and also that only the Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent Power can fetch fortunes and shower blessings for all the hard work that they are made fit enough to do for themselves. To exemplify this belief, we once again get introduced to a family who has named their son Charm because they believe that fortunes do not make life beautiful but a charming personality can do wonders to bring in favours.

Now the two kids often play together and are good friends. It so happens that one day while they are playing, Charm kicks the ball so hard that it rolls and falls into a well nearby. Charm runs to see if he can get it back and as he bends to look into the well, he slips and falls into it. Yani Matadi Utama Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Khare Lalikhuna runs to Charm’s parents to inform them and seek help for his friend. ‘Uncle, aunty, Charm is in danger. He has fallen into the well. Please come to save him.’ A storm of bad news then suddenly blows out peace from their lives. They run for help to their neighbour and call out to him. ‘Sir, please come and help us to save our son Charm. He has fallen into the well.’ The neighbour rushes out and calls out to the gardener for help. ‘Mr. Gardener, please come to help. Our Charm has fallen into the well.’ The gardener runs along but calls the cleaner for assistance. ‘Oh Mr. Cleaner, please come along with us to save our Charm. He has fallen into the well.’ So we have many people running to save Charm. They reach the well and throw the rope Mr. Cleaner has taken along to pull out the lad and save Charm. They overcome the storm and go back home in peace with their child.

Soon the boys get back to their fun and games and after a few days a similar thing happens again. But this time it’s Yani Matadi Utama Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Khare Lalikhuna who falls into the well. The same race of help follows and you can imagine the time it would take each character to call out such a long name. Of course, a lot time and energy gets wasted in calling out such a lengthy name and by the time they all can reach the well to save the lad, he is already drowned. The storm here has been successful in its vicious plan of destruction.

As I read this story, a whisper spoke to me. Medals and ambitious attachments of prefixes in honour of one’s deeds or degrees, most of the time, add a load of painful responsibility. They do not necessarily bring in great fortunes but rob one of being fortunate enough to enjoy a beautiful life with all its charming and wonderful gifts of serenity and peace. Instead of choosing the ways of their community, if Yani Maatadi Utam Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Kahre Lalikhuna’s parents had chosen the way to freedom of choice, they would have not lost their son.

The world is a deep well of greed which robs all excitement of life. It uses the cat logic making us want to fit into the size it presents to us. It wants us to forget that we are made much larger and bigger than the boxes presented to us by the world. We have a choice to demand bigger boxes of existence to fit in a lot of blessings, ample amount of gratefulness, all our excitement of living, a heart full of thankfulness and millions of moments of happiness. 

As I share this story with you my reader, I also share what it taught me. It taught me that the universe has no obligation to make any sense to me. That it’s my duty to make sense of my life for myself because it’s ultimately all about the choices I make that matters. Whether I fix my bedside lamp or decide to bring light to a dark and pained heart somewhere far away unaware of my help, it's my choice. Whether I make my own new path and walk on it taking in all its freshness, or choose to walk the path worn out by thousands of feet ahead of me and feel exhausted and fatigued in its stench of familiarity, it's my choice. As John Ruskin has put it, ‘The common practice of keeping up appearances with society is a mere selfish struggle of the vain with the vain.’ 

A moment of cogitation makes me wonder if the Holy Spirit residing deep in our hearts must be laughing at our stupidity of faith in the words of the world, in stead of submitting to the word of sense ingrained in us as a birthright. ‘For my people have done two evil things: they have forsaken me, the Fountain of Life-giving Water; and they have built for themselves broken cisterns that can’t hold water!’ Jeremiah 2:13

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

PADMINI CAME IN MY DREAM LAST NIGHT




Padmini came in my dream last night. She looked troubled. A part of her face had acid burn marks on it, the sleeve of her dress was torn and her clawed skin underneath was visible. She was not trying to cover it up with any kind of embarrassment like we see most molested women in films do. I felt that she was walking with great difficulty, and yet pride was written all over her face. Her eyes too were wet and red. Probably she had been crying a lot. ‘What did she want?’ I wondered. That pride in her look appeared to not want to bear the burden of the world on her shoulders. She had shirked that honour of sacrifice, because she no more believed that she was a beast of burden, carrying the pride of the men of her world and their so called chauvinist values on her strong shoulders. Her creator had gone all out in his dramatic making. There was tragedy and drama in her life according to him. He had shaped her into an embodiment of love and made her jump into a pit of self sacrifice, the ultimate of womanhood.

I was confused at this visit of hers. Long back somewhere in history I had read about her beauty and how Allauddin Khilji the Muslim invader had gotten attracted to her magnificence and invaded the kingdom of Chittor to take her as his wife. I looked deep into her to have a better look. Yes of course she did look beautiful. It was probably the scars that she wore that added a tinge of attraction to her visage.

Obviously she had something to tell me; why else would she have bothered to come to me in my dream? I looked intensely at her lips to see if they were moving but all I could see was a little tremble. Probably she wanted me to take the initiative. Hesitatingly I began, ‘Look, (I paused and fumbled for words and then as they came to me, I said), I know some bits and pieces of history but I have no authority to ascertain their correctness, because you see, I wasn’t born then. I hope you can understand. Some books say that Khilji defeated the Rana of Chittor in the early 14th century and died soon after. Actually you were not even born then. Am I right?’ Getting no response I continued, ‘weren’t you born somewhere in the mid 16th century in a poetry book of some Sufi, Jayasi who lived very far from Chittor? They say that he created you in his understandings of the longing of man’s soul for his beautiful creator. He made a historical fantasy where he took some factual events and characters and coloured them with his creative imagination. They say that Jayasi belonged to a tradition where love and longing were important parts of life. What were you? Were you really born in the 14th century or were you an imaginary character of a Muslim poet?’

I could see a smirk on her face, and so I continued my questions hoping for an answer. ‘Tell me oh Queen, were you real or just a character of a genre called premakhayam; the Sufi poetry of love? Were you and Ratansen a Sufi portrayal of the sacrifices endured in the name of love for the creator? Was Allauddin Khilji a representation of a world full of its lustful ways?’ I paused my questions waiting to hear an answer. ‘Please do tell me if you were a metaphorical creation, because you are now beginning to scare me’.

By now I could hear deep breaths. It certainly was getting scary. And then it all became human. ‘They burn me today, they kill me because I dare to love, and they rape me to show they are physically stronger! They have never paid attention to me for so many hundreds of years and now suddenly................. these hypocrites; haters of women, misogynists! ......In those days they shamed me. They tied me with ropes of honour, because they always had animal instincts and were scared that the animal in me could be more powerful than theirs. My bravery then, was in making a choice for my life or death. Situations demanded me to jump into the kund in those days. Even today, in many places they don’t allow me education or my choice of work. They leave me with no options. In those days they made my act into a metaphor for bravery and yet today I would never do that. Today I choose to live and fight. It was in fact Jayasi’s thought process that made me so beautifully real. Not that I was not real. My womanhood has always been charming and will continue to be eternal; but must I always be lead to climb to my death? Is killing myself always an answer to prove my worth and honour? My beauty has always attracted the beast in men and then, after all what do they do, they hypocritically immortalise me in books. It has taken them hundreds of years to glorify me after that Bhansali portrayed my character with his creative skills. My descendants suddenly woke up to create a circus of politics around my existence of ‘To be or not to be’. I am; and have always been the most beautiful work of art in creation. In fact, Jayasi in his Sufism created me as unachievable; the beloved God, whom man longs to be in love with. But how many Hindus or Muslims will today understand a Jayasi?  At times they made me kill myself to save my honour and at other times they kill me to save their honour. But today I want to live a life of worth, I want to glorify my spirit, even if they have destroyed me time and again, I want to decide my life, my feelings, my joys. Who are they to tell me whether I can dance or not? They talk of honour, but it’s just their excuse. They don’t want me educated or going out to work. Actually they are scared of my strengths. If I wish to be a pilot, some of them have objections, if I want to be a dancer, some of them again have objections. They want to represent my sacrifice as the pride of all women. Even their educated men believe that the Kund was filled with girls as young as three and women as old as eighty. They soak themselves in pride with such large scale examples of my immolation. Who are they to tell me what I must feel and do? Who are they to tell me what I must wear? How do they know whether I have desires to dance or not? Now after years, Bansali has given me the liberty to feel beautiful and not just be beautiful; and they are angry with him.’

I kept looking at her and listening to her angst. Yes, she was a creation of God and they destroyed her; today she is a creation of man and they want to destroy her again. They fail to give glory to her when she is alive and strive to award her fame in her death.


The poet Jayasi, in his longing for unison with God was believed to have achieved great spiritual powers. I wonder today whether his once upon a time words, of a lotus blooming in a pond being brushed past by a frog living in the same pond and instead a bee from far coming close to it, had prophesy hidden in them. The men of her nation had willingly forgotten her independence; the desires of her humanness, but a Bhansali from far, came and allowed her to express her thoughts as she swirled to soul stirring music. As I was deep in the whirlpool of my thoughts and thinking of how I could be of any help to her, she faded away from my dream and I could hear the birds chirping at my window to announce a new day; a new day, which would allow her to live and rejoice in the times to come. 

As the light of the morning sun filtered into my room through the curtains, I was lit up with hope for a new world; where the new world men would like Jayasi in their search for God, find him in a woman’s heart soaked in his presence. The new Padmini would need more than love for her survival. She would need freedom to live her ways and dance her tunes.
Pic credits: Google

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

GRAB THE MOMENT


How often do we wait for tomorrow to settle issues in our life? Don’t we endlessly wait in our today and convince ourselves that the decision could be made some other day? Some of us have in fact actually made the future our best pal, whereas in reality we should be making today our favourite day. How important it is then, to grab the moment!

Doubts and fears are basically unwanted visitors in our lives. They are the pile-on kind. It depends on our choice to accept friendship with such unwelcomed guests or our capacity and strength to shoo them away.
Opportunities come our way often, but sadly we are most of the time fastened and chained in with locks of ‘Should I?’ and ‘Must I?’ What we need instead are the keys of ‘Let’s Try’ with which we could open up those mutexes and throw away the rackles that bind us to our past.

Let me move on to a scriptural verse that could help in explaining this ‘Let’s Try’ concept better. First of all, if we read scriptures and their stories only as events that happened in the past, it makes no sense. The past is dead and a daily reading of it will not allow us to move on in the present. Unless we relate the past and pick up on its wisdom and make it alive to cherish our present, our scripture time will be a waste.

I often go to the Holy Bible to get answers to daily queries and have come to the conclusion that it is not just a book for those who follow Christianity and are members of some church. It’s a book of wisdom for anyone who needs it and every page communicates with those who have the capacity to open their ears and listen.

In Mark 1:40 we have a leper pleading to be healed; who tells The Lord, “If you want to, you can make me well again.” The answer he receives is, “I want to, Be healed!” So often, in ignorance of our originality, we reduce our princely state into that of  a beggar; not knowing that our creator never ever had anything to do with our lowly position. We need to constantly remind ourselves about how he had made us in His image. He breathed his being into us! Remember? However, in the journey of our life travels, we meet arrogance, ego and overconfidence which urge us to free ourselves from our elevated state of existence in subjugation of the love of our creator. ‘“Come let us break his chains,” they say, “and free ourselves from all this slavery to God.”(Psalm 2:3)

In Mark chapter 2, we see a paralyzed man brought on a stretcher and the Lord tells him, “Pick up your stretcher and go on home, for you are healed!” (Mark 2:11) Now the crux over here is that the man could have said, “Haha, are you crazy? I have been in this position for years. How can I just get up?” Thank goodness he didn’t say that! Instead, he jumped up in faith. “The man jumped up, took the stretcher, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers!” (Mark 2:12)

The uncommon and unattended wisdom here is that, our fears, our troubles, our anger, our sickness, our anxieties have chained us with locks of depressive doubts and keys of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sickness. What we need is not an acceptance of ‘It’s fine’ kind of resignation and that, ‘It could have been worse’. What we need is the faith to jump up and push through the crowd of stunned onlookers.


Let us therefore make a promise to ourselves, that we will not waste our days working out to making ways in order to worry about all those things that will never happen to us and instead GRAB THE MOMENT.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

BASKETS OF INTELLIGENCE


A group of senior citizens I know, often gather together to enjoy a good breakfast in a garden. Under the shade of a tree, they sit on benches and call for a folding table to spread the menu their loving wives have prepared. It’s quite a bonding time where these old friends laugh out loud and do some breathing exercises before they put into their mouths, health sprinkled with spice of love and affection, all laid out before them.

Today when a basket was brought to be kept on a bench, I noticed it to be an old fashioned kind of a carrier. It was a lovely plastic container, designed aesthetically with big handles to carry all the food placed inside it with great love and care. What drew my attention was not the food therein, because that was all wrapped up and covered with a colourful napkin over it. It was the basket that caught my eye.

My memory, took me some more than forty years back on a balcony where there was a similar basket always kept in a corner with a rope tied to its handles. The little me then, I remembered, indulged in the comfort of shopping from the balcony everyday when the vegetable vendor used to come with a spread of nutritious colours laid neatly over a handcart. He had a typical call, on hearing which all those interested in purchasing food plants, came out on their balconies for a good shopping experience. Bhaji kaka (Vegetable uncle) is what we called him then. So many eyes would be looking down and making a mental pick of their day’s requirements and then shouting out their orders loud and clear for him to make note of. The funny part was that we all knew what would be cooking in the neighbourhood homes for the day. The baskets would be let down with the right amount neatly placed inside for the purchase, and the vegetables would be placed in exchange for the money and the strings would be pulled up gently. As a little girl it was all so much of unique fun for me.

As I grew up, the construction patterns in the city changed over time and the balconies disappeared and so did the baskets. Today I stand in long queues in malls pushing trolleys with the food purchased with every item stuck with its price on it. I still haven’t got myself ready for the latest convenience of ordering my culinary requirements online simply because I prefer to work on my tactile and visual senses before every purchase.

Suddenly the basket on the bench made me realise how the supermarkets had replaced Bhaji kaka and the trustworthy connection between the buyers and sellers. We almost had shared a relationship with him. He knew our tastes and often reminded us that he had brought what we liked. ‘The tomatoes today are real red and juicy. They will make a delicious soup’, he would call out to my granny standing three floors above on the balcony; straining her eyes to see well. The basket saved her the inconvenience of going down the stairs and climbing up again. The dropping down of the basket and pulling it up when pregnant with food was my delight. It was like a game for me, one which never bored me. Also, it was a skill to get it up steadily without it swinging with its overflowing colourful contents. When I had successfully pulled it up and granny had the handles in her grip I could see an understanding flow out of the senior eyes, both, the ones standing next to me on the balcony and the ones looking upwards from down below. As compared to such a dependent experience of those days, today’s shopping malls have given me comfort and better convenience, but Bhaji kaka’s love and blessings are missing, just like the missing basket.

Bhaki kaka’s communication skills were a delight to learn from by simply observing him and the way in which he coped with life, people and situations. He filled baskets with his goodwill. Over a period of time he had become our family’s balcony friend.

Today, as the friends settled down to unload the contents of the basket into their hungry plates, I couldn’t stop thinking about the unzipped possibilities open baskets could have. Fashion repeats itself and these baskets have come back in style. Imagine if we were to once again like the olden days, carry baskets filled with love, what infinite possibilities we could have, to create change in our lives! If we delved deeper into these baskets of love we could find therein trust and understanding along with simple sharing and caring; emotions largely lost to many today. We could put in agreements and remove any overloading and unhealthy grievances. We could call them baskets of intelligence which would allow time for open exploration of kindness and intimacy.

Metaphorically, we could use this basket as our life and put into it anything that we desire or even pull out what has been mistakenly put into it due to our negligence.

A basket with good food in it would be so very full of life in itself. To carry it along and walk towards a tree to sit underneath it, would be so much better than going to a restaurant and searching the menu card there.

We certainly need to have some open baskets to carry around on our journey; baskets to fill in love, baskets to drop in care, baskets to pack with understanding, baskets well arranged with sympathy, baskets overflowing with forgiveness, mercy, magic of wonderful memories, kindness, and baskets to gather in them promising great humans.


(Picture credits: Google)

Sunday, 29 October 2017

THE CHEESE OF HUMANITY


One learns more from suffering than one learns from happiness; and failures too are better teachers than success.

The recent warning from the North Korean foreign minister regarding the nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean is one more lesson of pain which perhaps the world is getting ready for.

Peace has begun to pray that the rising tensions between North Korea and the US may not ever see the most powerful detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

This potential happening brings to my mind a story which I had often heard as a child and which laboured to teach that fight only led to sad faces at the end of the day.
The story, ‘A clever monkey and two cats’, showed two greedy and angry felines fight over a flat round cheesy bread and then aptly jumped in a clever monkey to make peace between the two, offering to bite off the pieces of the flat bread and make even distribution. In his conniving attempt of fairness he kept biting into the bread filling up his ever hungry tummy and working to make the loaf into a visibly equal share for the foolish cats. Finally when just a little bit was left, the understanding of futility of warring dawned on the foolish cats who then thought it better to have a little of what was left rather than let it all go into the clever monkey’s stomach. The smart Simian then took away the last bite also, demanding it as his fees for his greedy labour.

It’s amazing that a world educated on the sorrows of the two horrendous world wars has no flinching before moving onto the third one. The lessons of history seem to have been lost to the pompous politicians and history is getting ready to repeat itself.
It’s a fearful moment with the potency of total annihilation that the world at large is ignoring and perhaps even blinded too.

At this moment I realize the depth of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ which ends with the words, “Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.” These temptations are so varied! Those of ego and pride, those of earthly desires of temporary treasures which will in time erode away. All those ideologies leading to violence and those evil thoughts leading to deep darkness!

This super intelligent age in which man is making cosmic mats to attract aliens on this planet and make them feel at home is all set up with the nuclear arrows to destroy his human neighbour.

This super conscious world, with all its knowledge of food and nutrition has astonishingly forgotten all about the food that enriches one’s soul.

Humanity today is at stake and the voice of conscience keeps knocking at man’s door but he is engrossed in making choices of wine and pleasure at his neighbours. His ears strain to hear the call of the world and he turns deaf to the call of his Spirit which is in jeopardy of getting lost.

This man’s self-destructive capacity is certainly one of a kind. The evil sufferings of the two World Wars left him empty. To survive, he cleansed that emptiness with forgiveness, for there was no other alternative for moving on; but the vacuum remained. He should have filled that empty space with lessons of ‘never again’ but instead he filled the hollow with perishable joys.

“This evil nation is like a man possessed by a demon. For if the demon leaves, it goes into the deserts for a while, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the man I came from.’ So it returns and finds the man’s heart clean but empty. The demon finds seven other spirits more than itself, and all enter the man and live in him. And so he is worse off than before.” Matthew 12: 43, 44, 45.


A few hopeful questions which keep probing my mind are, ‘Will this humanity give up to the strength of the devil, or will it grab back the cheesy Bread and chew on it to survive?’ ‘Will it understand that in every war, the Devil takes away the cheese of humanity?’ Today the call for man is urgent. There is a pressing need for him to transform from being a human being to being human.
(pics. courtesy: Google)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

BEING COMPOSED IN PEACE


What can man do to accept change within himself and the society in which he lives? This question for me got answered as I watched an  Oscar- winning Iranian Movie, ‘The Salesman’ directed by Asghar Farhadi.
Unfolding the drama, ‘The Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller, within its story, the movie speaks about how an individual can be defined by a single event. The story of a young Iranian couple, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneth Alidoosti) who shift to a new home, is of order in life versus disorder that suddenly drops into the normalcy of living like a bomb. Rana is violently assaulted when she is in the bathroom because a stranger suddenly enters her privacy. It is a case of character drop due to temptation of the man and obvious repulsiveness on the part of the woman.
The details of the what and the how are not revealed to the viewers. Much is left to imagination when Rana is shown with wounds on her head on the hospital bed. Emad wants to lodge a police complaint but Rana refuses in obvious fear of reliving the incident to strange official men. Her expressions however show deep emotional wounds. Apparently, the apartment earlier belonged to a promiscuous lady and therefore the incident. It was a case of mistaken identity and momentous temptation.
Emad then moves on with his own amateur detective search and succeeds only to find a senior citizen as the culprit. The man when caught realises the denial and contradiction of his real self and his portrayed self to his family. He has an old wife and a daughter of marriageable age. An apology follows, but Emad wants revenge. ‘You have to admit what you did to my wife to your family’, is the demand, if an apology is to be granted. The old man gets sick and goes through trauma due to a faint heart. Rana then enters the scenario and tells Emad to let go of the old man. She wants no kind of revenge. In fact she strangely warns Emad that if he reveals the filth of the old man to his family, they will part ways.
On the peripheral level it all seems strange. An obvious question anybody would ask would be, ‘Why let the accused go?’
The Arthur Miller play running alongside shares a similar tale of a fifteen year old affair before the real time of the play. Miller too focuses on the aftermath of an affair. In the end his protagonist commits suicide being unable to deal with the change in himself; a different self from what he would want everybody else to believe. In the movie too the old man gets a stroke after Emad behind closed doors gifts him a tight slap for what he had done to Rana.
Rana’s letting go of the criminal is a letting go of revenge and pain that it would cause to his family women. It’s a humiliated woman after all, who understands what humiliation feels like and does not want two other innocent women to suffer like she has.

The last scene is where the artists, Emad and Rana are shown getting ready for another show of Miller’s play in which they play the dramatic characters of Willy the protagonists and his wife. The make-up artist is shown colouring their faces. Life has to move on, as one has to make up for the loss or the differences one goes through in the process of living. One has to make up in the end to replace the pains one has suffered in the past. The only constant in life being change; it becomes mandatory for man to accept it in peace. And composure of peace can only be achieved when brushes are dipped in colours of forgiveness; because the show must go on.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

THE TRUTH IS



Sometimes the most ordinary moments in life whisper to us a great truth and something very small indeed reveals the big picture.

It was a casual charging of a mobile that triggered the thought process. I was requested to plug the mobile for charging.

“Please would you plug the mobile for charging? It’s the second switch.”

 I did as I was told but the switch was wrong and so I changed the plug placement and kept it in another socket of the third switch. The charging began.

 “It’s not the second switch’, it’s actually the third one.”

“But it is the second switch” was the prompt reply.

“Oh you mean the second switch from the left; I thought that you meant the second switch from the right.”

The conclusion was that there were two truths in this case and both were right. To think of it though, how could there be two truths? Truth could only be one.

And here is when the voice whispered into my ear of understanding; "Some worship the Sun because for them it is the life giving source and some worship the Moon; but the truth is that they are both placed in the sky for the benefit of man by the One and only One Truth – The Creator."

In the case of the switches too, both the perspectives were correct. It was the second switch. One was second from the right and the other was second from the left but the current passed into them from one electric board.

Wisdom urges us therefore to recognise our ignorance and bow in all humbleness to the awareness of truth which is far superior to any information because information depends on dimensions of understandings but the truth always IS.

“He assigned the moon to mark the months, and the sun to mark the days.” Psalm 104:19


“O Lord, what a variety you have made! And in wisdom you have made them all! The earth is full of your riches.” Psalm 104:24

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

INDIA BLEEDS IN HER SCHOOLS


The institutes of learning where our children spend a large chunk of their day have sadly been stamping memories of fear, anger, disgust and sadness on young minds. A child dies by falling from a second floor corridor of a school, another is raped in the premise of learning, one more we learn has been periodically sexually assaulted by a bus cleaner in the schools toilet and yet another gets killed in a schools washroom.
Our schools are scrambling to match top-class world education systems but have forgotten the distinguishing feature of education namely; the well-being of the students.

Many of our so called good schools are shockingly, breeding grounds of sexual, physical and emotional abuse; these being the dangers that lurk in the seemingly safe environment of some schools. Surprisingly this evil is not limited to hinterlands where lawlessness is commonplace, but is routinely found today even in the metros.

Perhaps we have not got our priorities in the correct order. Parents wanting to give the best to their children look out for International Baccalaureate courses within premises which resemble five-star hotels than a school; which are in fact more of little corporate worlds rather than humble institutes of learning. A large number of private schools have mushroomed today in the name of autonomy, but do parents even feel curious enough to find out about the laying of the Corner Stone of such educational institutes where something has gone horribly wrong? It is obvious that a lot of dubiously accumulated wealth is invested for social respectability in many such schools whose primary motives are far from imparting knowledge. These are stone structures set up by unscrupulous individuals with individual motives of directing their coloured wealth to be hidden under uniforms of respectability.

Education today has become a business. Schools are advertised on hoardings and on buses. It’s all a world of show!  It’s all about a service industry serving the most important citizens of a country – its children; but serving them in a care a damn and a sub-standard manner.

There has to be something dreadfully incorrect with a society that puts the emotional and physical safety of its children the lowest in its priority list. Such behaviour is nothing less than criminal neglect.

The problem here is certainly not a superficial one; it has its roots deep in the principles of a nation as a whole; a nation which celebrates its teachers irrespective of their quality. How many teachers today care to know their students and are willing to give them a ear before they hurry to their tuition classes? In fact teachers who can be closest to the students are themselves many a times a major cause for their failures.

Sadly this profession of service has remained not truly a value based or a moral one for all. Many schools today are grounds where the caretakers and educators are often found responsible for leaving emotional scars on maturing minds.

The clarion call today needs to be for institutions which have a faculty ready with preparedness of voluminous scholarship and a bulk of care for the students. After all it’s the children who are the future of the world; they desire new learning and have hidden anguish for their surroundings. If allowed, they will change the world; however they need ground to work on. The future of our generations is then in our classrooms and the conversations we have therein. 

Image courtesy: Google 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

ABOVE THE APPEARANCES OF MEN AND WOMEN

What is it in a movie that makes it a masterpiece? Is it some deep inner longing which when seen on screen gets recognition and makes the film fantastic? Or is it something totally different?
In my opinion, a masterpiece of a movie is the one which breaks new grounds and makes us scratch our heads enough to make us rethink about relationships which are largely left undefined by the society. Another thread in the fabric of a great work is that it’s about life and life is not all about being moral and upright always, though that is what everybody must aspire for. So, if a masterpiece is to reflect life, it need not be all of a moral story. It could in fact be a morally dubious work of creation making the viewer critically observe nuances of reality.
‘Carol’ is in the above terms a Masterpiece indeed, because it urges the viewer to think about something larger than the story unfolding on the screen. It’s like a dive in the hearts of those who are different or who become different due to the influences of time. It’s a story about something remarkable and timeless about the human conditions of facing domination, neglect and loneliness amidst the crowds.
It’s definitely a good story; though many viewers in ways of rigid observation would consider it immoral. However, at the end of all said and done, ‘Carol’ succeeds in capturing the attention of the viewers. There are moments in the film which capture time and transform it into timeless memories which stick on and don’t seem to leave the heart and the mind of the viewer even much later.
‘Carol’ is a story that made me look above the appearances of men and women as different sexes and notice instead, just hearts in different bodies. Hearts which are made to love and desire love in return. We have then ‘Carol’, with love as its theme; a love which every woman is always in search for.
So ‘Carol’, a film set in the 1950’ has its protagonist Carol (Cate Blanchett) going through a separation from her husband who believes he loves her but is unable to understand her emotional needs. It’s a love story of a very strong woman who probably defines love as understanding, care and respect for individual thoughts of the other. It’s a story taking place far away from my country India, and yet not surprisingly I see similarities of what is currently happening around on the land where I stay. Ironically, a section of the women in my country are debating over the injustices of the Triple Talaq (where a Muslim man pronounces the word ‘divorce’ 3 times in a row and gets separation from his wife forever). I wouldn’t be surprised if after watching ‘Carol’, many of these women were to lose faith in their men and prefer to begin love affairs with other women who have suffered similar fates like them, simply because there would be at least an understanding and respect in such a relationship. Of course it would be considered immoral by large numbers, but when a society fails to guide its men on the journey of being human, could the women be considered immoral simply because they seek understanding in love?

In the course of the film, we are vaguely introduced to her friend Abby who is also her child’s Godmother; but in the process of the story we learn that Carol had a relationship with Abby when they were young. Perhaps Carol had seen not a very pleasant figure of a father and therefore had sought companionship with Abby, a friend who would be a more understanding person. But then, confirming to the “normal” ways of the world she did get married to Hugh and gave this man-woman relationship a try. However, not being able to get the much desired respect, understanding and friendship, which have to be components of a marriage, she felt attracted to Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), a young woman. Therese is the young lady who moves on with her boyfriend in spite of his loving control and dominating role of being in charge of the woman in his life, till she meets Carol. The two women, in spite of their age differences are able to connect in a deep understanding of their absolutely different personalities and bond enough to become lovers.

‘Carol’ is a story with complicated consequences; a love affair forbidden because it’s between a female photographer and an older woman going through a difficult divorce. It’s a film which has made space for itself and for women wanting to get out of the clutches of a Patriarchal society.

Probably it’s when women are too burdened with the know-all men in society, that they driven to fill the role of men in their lives and replace them with understanding women who are not just lovers but loving friends too.

Since the film is not all about the regular and “correct” beliefs of the society, it could be a trouble watch. As we watch the two women protagonists struggling to free themselves from the clutches of male domination, we realise that relationships tend to become cold when partners are taken for granted.  However, when the woman seeks and finds love once again but from another woman, she gets labelled in the court as a ‘morality clause’ – Carol has a daughter whom she loves deeply and is fighting for her custody rights in the court.  

Memorable gestures, like a turn of the head, a well manicured hand holding a cigarette, and eyes that speak a complicated love-story between a married woman; a mother of a little girl; so small that she is simply unable to even understand why her parents can’t be together and Therese, a young............ – ‘like something flung out of space’ ....kind of lady, helps hold the film in the mind of the viewers even after they have left the theatre because every heart whether loved or unloved, somewhere deep down understands a longing of this emotion.

When Carol’s husband Hugh forces her to choose between Therese and their child, Carol can be seen shattered. She knows that if she continues with Therese, she will lose her child on morality grounds, but as time passes by, she understands that if she loses Therese and wins the custody of her child, she will probably not be happy enough to make her child feel happy always. Then, in a rare moment of even rarer courage, she decides to not fight a battle for the custody of the child but demands regular visits.

The authority, with which she lets go of her right as a mother, shows that only someone who loves deeply can let go the depth of attachment.


‘Carol’ is indeed a story that resonates within us well past those wonderful moments spent in air-conditioned theaters; because it touches our warm hearts.