Not tried and tested are we?

NH 10. Name of the movie that I saw yesterday. It’s gripping. It’s violent. It’s got a good screenplay. It’s got great cinematography. It’s chilling. Period.

It’s a story of a young couple going out on a weekend. They get ensnared and trapped into a quagmire of their own making. It’s now a road to hell. And there’s no looking back. I leave the rest for you to see and find out. See it you must. You may hate it. I didn’t. I liked it, but yes, the violence is brutal and unrelenting. It reveals how underneath all the veneer and Dolce & Gabbana (Sir Elton John has called for a #BoycottDolceGabbana, read that story here) we’re wild, uncouth and vengeful with hate simmering just on the inside, waiting to come to boil.

After seeing the movie, I had a few questions of my own to which I knew I didn’t have satisfactory answers only hypocritical excuses. I’m an armchair critic and I always crib about how life’s unfair, dirty, chaotic, how “those” people from the villages are morons, idiots who just make our lives in the city so unbearable yadda yadda yadda. Everything in life’s ok, even the dissing, as long as I don’t have to:
a) sip tea from the same tea cup as my housemaid
b) share the toilet with the housemaid and am uncomfortable if she does use it
c) share the elevator and breathe the same air as her or the plumber or the electrician or the guy who actually clears the garbage, mine
d) be faced with uncomfortable truths about the pittance we pay our housekeeping staff
e) shake hands with a garbage collector, manual sanitary scavenger (yes in India it was practiced until 2 years ago after which it has been supposedly banned)
f) greet and be pleasant to the person at the other end of the retail counter/ cash counter/ baggage counter
g) give my new sedan/ SUV/ salon (what we normal people call “car ) to the relative to drive
h) share my clothes, cosmetics, jewellery, shoes, bags, perfumes, combs, clips, nail art, with anyone other than myself
i) pretend to like the housemaid’s kids and their wonderful achievements in school (making me feel like the prick that I am)
j) lend money to a friend/ relative/ acquaintance in the fear that it won’t quite come back
k) fight for my life or my loved one’s life in a situation that just swirls rapidly out of control
l) face men who think women are commodities or worse – they’re there for sexual gratification, and being subservient to their whims and fancies
m) look beyond the foggy curtain of my car window to the old, infirm and disabled looking at me with soul-full eyes, begging for another chance in life
n) worry about where my food is coming from or where it’s going as long as I can order caviar, lobster, meat, milk, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, maybe even truffles and talk about it at my next kitty
o) confront the misogynistic and misplaced patriarchy of feudal ganglords and have my head bashed in if I deliver a female child, get married to a man I love, get educated, answer back at the atrocities committed on my body, my mind, my soul – so what if I live in a gilded cage where my Armani suited husband/father/brother/ boyfriend/uncle/ burn the ends of their expensive Marlboro Classic into my delicately perfumed skin every night as long as I submit to their ugly oleaginous fantasies
p) worry about my car breaking down in the middle of a deserted road and begging for those same “villagers” (morons, idiots, uncouth rascals) to help me “pleeeeease”
q) spend money on treating my maid of HIV while I may be suffering from gonorrohoea and yet pretend that I’m fine and everything is right with the world
r) cancel my expensive vacations and scowl at the maid not being able to come on her festival days when she’d like to spend it with her daughter/s
s) wash and wear my dirty linen in public and have enough needy and impoverished hands to drop the linen into (and feel very pleased in the bargain of giving back to society)
t) be woken up in the middle of the night when the harried woman comes knocking on my door asking to be helped and sheltered
u) be questioned about my own dependability and trustworthiness but feel it’s my birthright to whip around in a flash and gnash and gnarl when the guy at the cashier’s counter takes an extra minute or genuinely forgets the change
v) worry about cleaning my own toilet
w) sleep under the night sky with my skin a blanket for my tired and cold bones, looking up at the distant stars and wondering why don’t they shine on me
x) feed a hungry baby, scavenge for food, get my French manicured nails dirty and worry about survival in the jungle of the rich, for the rich, by the rick
y) answer the call of duty and be faced with moral questions of honour, self, country
z) behave humanly and wave my hand at the unseen quiet, suffering masses and say, Marie Antoinette style, “waiter, get me some walnut brownie fudge will ya?”

Yes. I am plagued by disturbing questions. Of me vs. “them”. The “other” that we so conveniently forget. “They” who’re so essential for the smooth running of our lives and yet so inconvenient to think about.

All because of one starkly brutal, realistic and modern film that asks not just the above, but much more of each of us. If we allow ourselves to be asked that is. If we don’t have to be tested against the badlands in our Levi’s and Converse shoes, with our imperiled lives in “their” hands, begging for mercy, yet hating them with all our hearts. “Them”.

So when push comes to shove, will you kill for your husband or just walk away? Will you deny the truth and live a convenient lie or allow the truth to consume you because it could save someone’s life? Would you keep your house on collateral for a friend in distress or would you shoo the friend away diplomatically? Would you give your kidney, rent your womb, get maimed, rob, murder, jump for someone you cared for?

I don’t know. All I know is I wouldn’t know until I’m tried and tested. After all, our strength is evidenced only when our backs are against the wall. A wall made up of our own dreamy world where there really is no room for the “other”. They’re the left-overs. Right?

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