Sunday, July 10, 2016

The new old-fashioned one

"...and love, so wrought,  
May be unwrought so. "
                             - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It was just a couple of weeks back that I was teaching the poem to a class of 16-year-olds, where it took me sometime to explain the historical background of the poem, how Victorian women had so freedom of speech or expression, even basic education was not available to most and how looking after the household and giving birth to healthy heir to the family legacy was the only criteria sought after. Living in those times, it must have taken a great deal of courage on E.B.Browning's part to write a poem where she asks, rather demands, to be loved for who she "is" and not what she looks like or what qualities she had. But didn't it take a lot of her husband's encouragement and support to come out and write. And not to forget that she was whhelchair-bound, which must have been enough to ignore her completely in the "marriage market".

2016. It still takes fair skin, slim figure, sharp features and convent education to make oneself valuable in the "marriage market". And if someone even dares to look beyond this, it still takes a soothing voice, or gentle manner, or matching the wave length, to fall in love. And so I began the post with the quote -
                                                         "...and love, so wrought,
                                                          May be unwrought so. "
Can we not love a person just for the person that he is? Not because he is your brother, or father, or husband. Not because she is your sister, or mother, or wife? What if none of these or any relation whatsoever fits the bill? What if it's just a person you've known, and you've come to respect and care for, just for the person that he or  she is? Not because she has been your childhood friend, or he has been your rakhi-brother.

Even while writing this, I feel it might be a Utopian idea, because who has the time to love for love's sake? These days, we don't want to go to the market to shop, so we choose the various online websites. We don't visit each other any more, because it takes time. So we update our "memories" on Facebook and Whatsapp each other in groups, rather than meeting in person. Yes, the barrier of states and countries is there, but it was still there a couple of decades ago. Our parents would still write letters and visit friends and relatives. They would still take a bus or a taxi to visit Gariahat or New Market for puja shopping.

So, am I being old-fashioned? I haven't really given it a thought. And all this thought is definitely triggered by my husband, who is a self-proclaimed "old-fashioned man". May be sometimes it's better to be old fashioned than being too knowledgeable. It's sometimes better to know less than to know more. And probably it's sometimes better to hold on to one's dignity and conscience than to just 'let it go'.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Game of Thrones - in real life

When you've remained protected from all sorts of storms all your life; no matter what the situations, you've been saved by your family members - though not really pampered or spoilt - but simply "protected" because they've faced the storms and have known that when your time comes no one will be able to fight your wars for you - that's when you know that it's finally your war that you have to fight.

Don't let the introduction make you believe that life is all thorns and no roses at all, because we all have our fair share of darkness and light. It's simply that when you are all on your own, all by yourself, you will find out - one mistake after the other - how you can survive the "game of thrones". Well, believe it or not, in real life as well, it is a sort of game of thrones, where everyone is trying to get their own motive fulfilled and keep their loved ones safe. Some of us are the loyal friends, who would go to any extent to save a stupid person who does not realize what's good for them. and some of us are so tied within the "bonds" of the family that they cannot see an inch beyond that limited space. Then there is the outcast who, contrary to everyone's expectations shines as the underdog, and though really deserves to come out as the champion, but in reality probably just dies an ignominious death. Only sometimes, rarely actually, do we come across the born leader, true champion of the goodness in mankind and benevolent conqueror, who conquers not just for the self but also for the people. It is in such cases, when the leader, the Mhysa, comes out of the protection and learns to fight her own battle. And whether or not she wins it remains a secondary question, for just watching her fight is a sheer pleasure in itself.

And why am I exactly bringing out so many Game Of Thrones analogies? Not only because I'm suffering from a post-Season6 hangover, but also because I find inspiration in her character. The ability to have faith in her conviction, take diplomatic decisions when and where required, have her focus undeterred and not shying away from accepting help and counsel from the deserved - one of her well-spoken lines are spoken in reply to "All men must die" as "But we are not 'men'..."

Even if I do not go deep into the troubles faced by a girl/woman in her everyday life, we are experienced enough to understand our own struggles and I hope compassionate enough to empathize with the fellow girls/women. And in such situations, a combination of Tyrion's diplomacy and wit along with Daenerys's confidence comes to the rescue. In such times, when it takes a lot to keep one's head from exploding do we need to remember that it does not help to challenge a giant as Prince Oberyn did or face the powerful enemy headlong like Ned Stark. Sometimes, one needs to bend temporarily to be able to survive permanently. And though such advice or musings may seem diplomatic and probably complicated to some, will anyone deny it - placing their hands on their hearts - that they do not follow this, not even once, not even a little? It's easy to judge. It's tough to face.