Friday, 11 March 2016

he was just 14

rebecca. one of my mother's favourite books. faded, cracked cover in pale green with a woman against a warm background, a house burning down. memories. smokes and scars.

to borrow from the first line of rebecca...
last night i dreamt i went to sheesh mahal again.

last night i saw two things. one was just a moment and that moment held me still and blown all at once. the other was the story, the love and hate story, the episode. 

i would like to talk about that moment today. and priya, thanks for the quote that spells out a crucial part of it:

"the worst part of holding the memories is not the pain.
it's the loneliness of it. memories need to be shared."

lois lowry, the giver

chauda saal ka tha mein jab meri maa ne suicide kiya. my mother committed suicide.

how many times since the age of fourteen has he heard those words inside his head? how many times he has woken up to them first thing in the morning, words that put a bullet in your brain every time. you feel it in your head, in your heart, your skin, your gut. it stampedes behind your eyes, it lacerates your mouth, it clogs up your ears and your nose.

yet the words never go away. sometimes you have felt so much you can't feel any more. they just become words that you throw around within you thinking you can escape them, thinking you can go past them, thinking you have managed to internalise them and make peace with them. but you know that's not true. you are scarred everywhere. you just hurt. time doesn't really heal.

somewhere along the way, you begin to feel the need to share this unbearable pain with someone. not that they will make it go away, because no one really can. but because you don't want to be alone in there with your unforgiving pain. what you'd held so close as yours and yours alone wants you to open a door. let someone in.

but who will this someone be?

someone you love? of course, but even more important. non negotiable. someone you trust.

the threshold she crossed today was that of trust. the other crucial piece of that moment. you want to share, but only with someone you can trust. 

as she rushed in after him, spilling out her heart in those five odd sentences: i didn't mean to hurt you, i just wanted to make you feel better and i don't know what's bothering you, it's fine you never told me, i don't want to change you, if you don't want to tell me it's...

his mind released, his heart said, it's safe, she won't harm you, his soul said, at last. he turned and let the words out. he has been waiting to say it as his mind says it to him for so long. i could hear the years in that instant.

she heard him, through all her unpreparedness, her lack of any experience in dealing with such things, and in the midst of her own confusion, she heard him clearly and she knew what to do.

her arms went around him in an instinctive rushed hug, like first aid, like e.r.; then as she herself calmed she put her arms around him again, this time gathering him to her, reminded me of the time he held her on the cliff bringing her back to life. she brought him back from that edge of darkness and death this time. he cried. his tears again said, i trust you.

what do you do when your father betrays your trust, completely shaking up your sense of trust itself? and your mother is gone suddenly, in a gunshot, in a moment, along with her goes love?

he stayed a prisoner of that moment, trust and love forever an issue. as he said that day of his parents' barsi, no one understands, they only think they do.

today somebody did understand, and he took his first step toward freedom with those words.

the writing, the very thinking, the direction, the execution, every bit of this scene including the lead up and the morning after were inspired, outstanding. khushi deciding a song along with cute loving would make him feel better was a masterstroke. pure khushi, had she broken into serious talk he may never have been able to tear down that heavy iron door suffocating within it his scream.

what stays with me, and may stay perhaps forever:
arnav singh raizada whirling around and two sentences quickly uttered, in a rush, before that heavy iron door containing his scream slams shut once more. then a still, blown away moment.

i have been part of a such a moment in someone's life once. maybe because this person also blurted it out just the way arnav did before something could come and stop him like always, that i felt everything rang true. we are in the hands of fine storytellers indeed. 

arnav has crossed the first threshold, may he pass easy through all those waiting as the smoke seeps out, as the gate opens, the conch shell blows and the battle begins, and he dreams of sheesh mahal again and again, but now with khushi, not alone. till one day there is no more again for that dream.


(i wrote this soon after watching the episode the very first time in 2012, before i knew where the story would finally end up. these here were really storytellers who had ken and art. and you had actors who vibed, who could make things work, make almost anything work. the story even at this point could have been taken to riveting junctures, and a stirring denouement. pity the whole structure and business model of the hindi soap finally ends up messing up everything.)


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