Friday, October 21, 2022

Lingering Thoughts



Like I shared on my WA status last Saturday morning, for some strange reason, "Edhedho Ennam" from Punnagai Mannan was ringing in my ears and I just had to listen to it. Enjoyed this Chitra's song immensely. It has a very one-sided-crush feel (if you what I mean); brimming over with love but a tad clingy... needy. The situation in the story was such, no?
So, one thing led to another (as it happens in love), and I found myself listening to "Vaan Megam"". I always loved this song but I now realise what a departure it is from "Edhedho Ennam"! Just like the two characters (Rekha and Revathi), these two songs have a completely different personality. Apart from the fact that it is chirpy and sprightly, it sends across the effect of a "full fruition". Isn't it what the storyline is all about? I have neither the knowledge nor the courage to analyze or applaud the genius of Raja sir. Everything lays out the mood so clearly--the words, the young synthesizer music and of course, the vocal dynamics of Chitra, who sang both of these songs---one of longing and the of attainment.
Listening to "Vaan Megam" brought a tinge of rose to my sullen face.
1. As I closed my eyes while listening, I remembered most of the words and most of the choreography, including Sundaram master's little ditty. As a teenager, I had often imagined myself in those rain-soaked canvas shoes of Revathi for more reasons than one.
2. The nimble fingers playing all those bubble-like keyboard notes, might be those of this young boy with a mop of curly hair who would go on to steal my heart a few years later. He is also known as the Mozart of Madras.
Here's the song.  https://youtu.be/2oHNn37iRn8


Functioning Without Labels

 


I recently came across these terms: hetero-romantic-asexual, ethical polygamy, polyromantic, graysexual, demisexual… I was quite fascinated by this new-world jargon. Broadly put, these terms are for people who look at relationships differently, away from the formula. This is like a make-your-own-salad counter. There’s the salad leaf—you can add just tomato and zucchini; choose feta or cheddar or no cheese at all, and maybe throw in some egg if you really are up to it. Google up these terms to know what I mean. (No, not the salad recipes!)

So, you may ask, “Why complicate things?” I may say, “On the contrary, it is a step to simplify our complicated lives.” The above-listed thought patterns aren’t new. It’s just that the labels are. People have always tried to force-fit themselves into prescribed social notions, believing that is how they ought to live—almost like a sombre fictional dystopian society, the members on autopilot, blindly traversing from one role to another, unable to escape the loop out of fear of punishment.

I have always believed that humans are like butterflies—a million varieties, with two million hues, some frail, some monarchs, but each with its beauty. Of course, humans are famed to categorize everything but fortunately admire aberration in nature. The same aberration among themselves has never been understood, appreciated or acknowledged.

This is because of the generations of conditioning that frightens even those with strong personalities to step away from. 

Why label a pupa even before it hatches? We, humans, are programmed to follow notions of milestones, religion, gender, sexuality, and more, right from birth. These notions end up shaping us like wet clay in the hands of the potter-society. Every little break from the preset mould is tied with anxiety. Anxious to get the best education, the best job, the best possible partner, the best possible children and the wheel continues. This anxiety leads to panic, leaving us with no time to introspect. Who are you? Do you want to learn this? Do you want to do this job? Do you want to get married? What kind of relationship do you want? What is best for you? These questions never get asked or answered. Sometimes the mundane aspects can be worked around, like switching streams of education and careers, of course after a lot of heartache, confusion and misgivings. But sadly, no attention is paid to matters of the heart. This leaves us often in a maze of unmet and unresolved emotions, with rarely a workaround solution. Any expression of individual choices gets labelled as weird, selfish, amoral and illegal.

This brings me back to the question, “Why complicate things?” Yes, we have complicated our lives due to assumptions—“If Tom and Jane are happy with this arrangement, Harry and Joan should be happy too. If they aren’t, they must try harder.”

What if we step out of the societal and moral matrix? Chaos and anarchy, you fear? I don’t think so.

Wouldn’t the world be more like a large, peaceful garden of butterflies if we are allowed to pursue the flower that we like? And not pursue any flower at all, if we don’t want to. Tom, Harry, Jane and Joan should have the courage to find their own little gardens. 

We have brought ourselves to a position where we need to invent new labels for what is already safely ensconced in the hearts of thousands. One might think these labels will only help a small fraction of elitist urbanites in finding themselves. The rest of the world still struggles and will continue so for a few generations.

I say, label or no label we are who we are/what we are.

So what do we do? Basically, let people be who they are. Don’t change a thing. Simple, no?

All of us must stop for a while and breathe. Think for ourselves who we are and what we want. Sadly, it might be a little late for adults already caught in the wheel but I think we should be very conscious about passing down unnecessary mindsets. Time-sheets and log-books are for factories; formulae are for laboratories. Not our hearts. Let’s not force our lambs into herds and make more lambs. Let’s not trample the beauty of relationships with our presumptions and anxieties. All it takes is a bit of maturity, a bit of trust and oodles of respect. As long as we teach them to love themselves and not hurt another living being, our children are sure to discover the earth, on their own beautiful wings, without having to struggle with labels.           




Images: 
Fujishima Takeji (1867-1943), Butterflies (1904), Wikimedia Commons
colorful butterfly PNG Designed By 倧洋 from Pngtree.com

Monday, December 20, 2021

𝐌𝐒𝐧𝐒𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐑𝐞 π‚π«πžπ―π’πœπžπ¬

The pandemic didn't have an adverse effect on Neil's career, but the changing trends were appearing, like silent patches of seepage on the wall. An upgrade seemed inevitable.
And then, there was Natasha. Texts had progressed to video chats. There was still a starchy newness to the relationship. Neil hoped they would soon break through the two cold, glass screens that separated them.
 
"What next? How soon? What does the future have in store for us... for me?" A syncopated rhythm of questions rang in Neil's head.
 
That winter evening, Neil sat down with his favourite drink, neat, the way he preferred and began browsing the internet for music. He always loved exploring new artistes and new genres, but, suddenly, he wanted to listen to songs he knew, songs he could sing along with. Neil sank into the wrinkly sofa and into the playlists comfortably. In a while, his duet with Bryan Adams came with familiar ease as they chorused, "It isn't too hard to see we're in heaven."

Is this how we mine our joys from the tiniest of crevices?


Song: Heaven - Bryan Adams https://youtu.be/s6TtwR2Dbjg
Pc: Saatchi Art (Moreaux, 2014)

Saturday, December 18, 2021

99 Songs!

 Just finished watching 99 Songs and I wonder why I didn’t watch it earlier.

                                                 

Since the story has been written by A R Rahman himself, it obviously ought to be about music, but this film has got so much more. Simply put, it is about Jay's quest for a song that leads him to many other revelations. Just like the fugue that is referred to in the film, the one-note story opens out to touch art, surrealism and different forms of relationships. I’d perhaps call it a fairy tale of sorts with fairy godmothers included. I could see beauty across every inch of the film. A beauty that only an artist is capable of imagining.

 

I know writing a story is no mean effort. A R Rahman, the musician, has poured every bit of himself into writing this story and with absolute honesty. He has put in everything that’s touched him, everything he feels passionately about. Though it was a film, it felt as though I was reading a book with audio and special visual effects playing in front of me. 

 

Many years ago, when I read Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music, I wished there was some way the prose and the music could be played together. And I somehow managed to make my own arrangements99 Songs gives almost that kind of a delight. A character's physical challenge in this film also brought to mind a parallel to An Equal Music

I tip my hat to Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy. He has done his best to put several abstract ideas into a visual medium with much grace and beauty, through his screenplay and direction. Maybe there aren’t grand dialogues or nuanced characters, but I would let that go because we are looking at people who are not bona fide story writers. We have someone who has just written a story and another who has transformed it visually. Having grown up on a staple of K Vishwanath’s films, I found this a completely different approach. Strangely, it always seems easier to make films about the struggles of a gangster than making films about the struggles of an artist. 99 Songs might not earn the appreciation of a film aficionado or a critic. Thankfully, I am neither! 

 

Like I said earlier, I did not find anything pretentious about this film. Casting would be an example. Ehan Bhat mirrors the simplicity and sincerity of the character that’s been written. Tenzing Dalha is such a pleasure to watch. Unable to forget him after Axone, I was happy to see him in almost every frame of 99 Songs. And then there are the surprising appearances of musicians in the cast that makes one exclaim in delight. 

 

(Still sticking to the book analogy) There is a tiny chapter on Jazz music that Rahman had to definitely write about and I am so thankful he did it. Like I have said in another post, Rahman has been exploring Jazz music like no one else in the film industry. And I’d love to sing the Jazzy lullaby chorus to an infant if I ever get a chance! I am not saying anything about the music in the film because that is what it is. I’m unable to split one from the other. The OST has much more variety than that featured in the film. 

 

Maybe I am dreamy-eyed, maybe I’m biased towards Rahman but I would say it was a Saturday afternoon well-spent. Ha! 


Image Courtesy: https://www.moviecrow.com

 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Schedules

Schedules

The buzz of the household, the whirr of the appliances, the clockwork of chores.

A quiet home. A quieter home-office.

The boss of everything. Everything under control.

And then a startling rush of loneliness.

A loneliness never felt, even as just a speck,

amidst tall trees, the mighty ocean and the wide blue sky. 









Monday, September 13, 2021

My parents didn’t send me to school to fold another man’s socks!

'My parents didn’t send me to school to fold another man’s socks!'

This is not a clickbait title, but a line that actually flashed in my head while putting away my husband’s washed socks at the end of a tiring day. This led me to a train of thoughts. I have fortunately never been in a predicament where I didn’t have a choice—folding socks or otherwise. Putting away laundry or setting the house in order comes out of my need for order and nothing else.

What I’m going to say now might raise some difficult questions but I’ve been wanting to speak about this for a while, for at least a year, actually.

I took a break from work soon after I got married, just to see what it is like to take care of a home and tend to a family. In less than a year, I took up studies and a full-time job soon after. Throughout a difficult pregnancy, childbirth, bringing up the child, I have been in some employment or the other, battling judgements, from within and from outside. I enjoyed every moment of my child’s growing-up as much as I enjoyed every project I had taken up.

My love, respect and admiration for all the women who get to choose what they want to do, with complete conviction—either taking up a job or staying at home. Once there is a vocalised choice with conviction, there might not be room for pain. I will get back to this in a bit.

There are so many women with no such choice. Their lives are studded with rhinestones of duty and sacrifice. Neither do they speak up, nor are they asked. Everything happens on assumption. Be it childbirth or accommodating the husband’s career, she is made to volunteer. If you notice, she is not solely responsible for either of these. In today’s times, these decisions are not forced explicitly. A responsibility card is thrust in their faces, ever so gently that no one notices it.

Let’s talk about a semi-urban to urban woman. A woman who is educated and has the skills to be employed well. What happens when she, by her own choice or otherwise, decides to give up her profession and stay back at home? She takes on much more than she had expected to. It rarely ends with cooking and caring for children. More often than not, she feels guilty about taking on domestic help of any kind. There is absolutely nothing to quantify the amount of work that goes on in a home. And if the woman is knowledgeable and independent, she is expected to take on more—driving children to classes or paying bills.

Housework is like quicksand that keeps sucking you in. With no one, in particular, to be blamed, it becomes a vicious cycle. First, the stay-at-home mother/wife takes on more work to assuage her feeling that she’s at home all day and therefore piles up her plate with more chores. It grows to a point when the rest of the family borders on becoming lazy or insensitive. It comes to a point when the lady’s presence at home is not enjoyed but demanded. Mind you, I am not drawing a fibre out of feminism or even sexism. My concerns are practical. I am only talking about fair play. Setting aside someone's clothes to be ironed or getting up to make a cup of coffee for someone when I have a minute does not make me any less but at the same time, it becomes a problem when these tasks are demanded or if the lady is questioned when they aren’t done.

Gone are those days when we glorified our mothers and grandmothers who were supposedly the fulcrum of the entire household. We were hardly familiar with the core of that person. Let bygones be bygones. With time, circumstances have changed. The household does not belong to one person. The man cannot shirk his responsibilities with the excuse of being ignorant or too busy. This effect is sure to trickle down to the children.
 

                                                    

The biggest fallout of all this is IDENTITY. Caught in this whirlpool of chores, the woman loses her sense of identity and forgets her passions and herself. Her individuality is camouflaged in the garb of the family’s interests. Over the years, this has been pointed out a million times already and at the risk of sounding clichΓ©d, let me say that nothing is permanent. Nobody is indispensable. The home won’t need the mother/wife all the time. What happens then? She is suspended in a meaningless vacuum. Where is she to find her purpose? Does she get a break from the chores, even then?

Moving away from employment to take care of the home and children are most welcome if the decision is conscious and carefully thought of.

a. Who will take the decision? The lady and no one else. No one can evaluate the value of her employment except herself. There is a lot more to a woman being employed. Money is just one reason.

b. When will she get back to work? Is this a permanent arrangement or a temporary one? Can she take up anything flexible if she desires to? Will she have added a skill or enhanced her knowledge during this period?

c. Where do her personal interests and passions fit amidst all this? That must never be the last priority.

d. What is the ambit of the work she is going to be doing at home? It must come with its boundaries of capacity and time.

e. Where is the money going to come from? Is she going to have autonomy of finances? Is there going to be an operative bank account for household expenses? What happens to her own finances that she has already earned and saved out of prior employment?

f. What happens in case of an eventuality? Will either of the spouses be able to pick up from where the other has left off?

g. What about a sudden, additional responsibility of extended families, in-laws?

Maybe all this sounds like the cold fine print in a contract. Like it or not, these are things to be thought of to avoid any assumptions and heartache. Ultimately, everything about this decision must be collective, with no room for compulsion or benevolence. Everyone involved must understand the purpose of this decision so that there is neither a cry of martyrdom nor a sense of disrespect.

After all, every human being is born with a purpose that's more glorious than laundry. 

Images: 
Xanthe Bouma, source: theatlantic.com
Lost Identity by Hoda Esmaeilian, source: fineartamerica.com



 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Puddles of Memories

 

PC: tumblr

It came like a sudden summer rain.

UNEXPECTED.

He and she.

Just like children.

They soaked up every drop of the rain.

IGNORING Mum’s warning.

“Summer rain is no good at all!”

They loved, laughed, lived.

As if for the first time ever.

They played, praying it would never stop, but

KNOWING all the time that it would.

Summer rain it was, after all.

***

He and She.

They slid back to their jejune lives.

REMEMBERING.

How as children, they trudged back to school

After a bout of cold. Strangely

SAD that they were cured.

The puddles remained.

GLAD.

To float their paper boats, to watch their reflection.

It made them happy. It brought no storms.

Summer rain it was, after all.

Surgical Strike

"Just imagine", they said, "how free you are going to be." Everybody pep-talked me. "You are not sick. You are only...