Friday, March 21, 2008

Figurative Womb

It's not very often that I am able to take away a meaningful message from a Bollywood flick so I had to write about it. The movie in question is Laaga Chunari Me Daag.

The story is an old chestnut overdone Bollywood-style. A family of four in a decaying mansion - the mother spinning the years away Arachne-like on the sewing machine, the idle father hoping the next lottery ticket will reverse the tide of his fortune and the two pretty daughter unequipped to seek a better future.

Desperate to help her struggling family, she goes to Bombay to find work and runs into a man who promises her a job in return for spending the night with him. She calls her mother defeated and ready to abandon her quest for employment. She is frightened by the proposition and wants to come home to Benares right away.

The mother's response to this SOS is tinged by her precarious circumstances, she does not rush to embrace her child and snatch her out of harm's way. In her daughter's most desperate hour she is not able to be her mother. The girl begins her new life as an escort. The mother is consumed by guilt even as the family benefits tremendously from the first-born's lucrative profession.

What I found most compelling about the story was the older daughter's cry for help, the mother's response to it and finally the consequences. I think our children cry out for help in big and small ways many times in their lives. When we are attentive, we hear clearly and respond decisively. In doing so we are able to prevent harm being done to them.

Yet there are times, when we are not able to hear quite as well. In hindsight, we blame our inaction on preoccupation, inattention or worse expediency because too much was at stake. The cry subsides into a low whimper and there is a deathly silence. We want to believe that the crisis has blown over - that our lack of intervention helped our child become stronger and more self-reliant. But the truth is, a child turned away from her last refuge of hope will often go down a path of self-destruction even while keeping up pretenses of all being well.

As unlikely as it may seem, this movie made me think about a mother's life long responsibility towards her children. She must have a figurative womb that they can return to in their darkest hour ; she must always be able to discern their cries for help amid the overpowering noise and chaos of her own life.

We see mothers around us who do everything else right and wonder why their children turned out the way they did - wonder where they went wrong. It is no easy feat to execute flawlessly on such huge responsibilities all one's life. More likely than not, a mother will make some mistakes and the child's life will be a testament of its consequences.

1 comment:

Sofi said...

i absolutely love reading your entries :) very thought provoking and wise.