Monday, March 17, 2008

Tokyo Story

J and I watched Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story this weekend. This was the first time she's watched a foreign language film and actually followed the sub-titles. The story is universal and timeless in its appeal. Any child who has grown up and moved away and any parent who has been left behind can relate.

The older couple Shukishi and Tomi Hirayama are like the parents we have left behind - some in another city and others in a different country. They visit their children more often than the children are able visit them. Often, they struggle to fit into the lives of their grown up kids who are married and have families of their own.

They wonder when and how their children changed so much. They do not want to impose themselves in anyway and if they lack independent means to support themselves, they are worried about what their visit is costing their children. Yet amid all this discomfort and disharmony all they probably want is to love and be loved in return.

Watching this movie with J was specially meaningful for me. She has seen me try to balance the demands of my life with being a reasonably good daughter to my parents when they visit. Each time they return to India, I think about what I would do different the next time they are here. As they grow older, I feel the time working against me. There will be only so many opportunities to make amends, to make the time they spend with me one they can recollect with happiness.

Yet the reality has been that my parents spend most of their time here in my apartment. They make it feel like a real home. J is excited to come home from school instead of going to daycare. Grandma tells her stories before naptime each afternoon and Grandpa teaches her music among a lot of other things. The food on the table is always wonderful - each meal is a feast. As always, they give much more than they receive.

The youngest son Keizo says "None can serve his parents beyond the grave". This movie made me think about how I treat my parents and perhaps how I would be treated by my child when I am older.


oneandonly said...

Is there any solution to this other than simply thinking about it? Don't get me wrong, I face the same problem. Being a female you might not be able to live with them since you live with your husband, but what stops a male? He doesn't want to go back to his hometown, his parents don't want to come to his Metro city? It's a deadlock, one of the most fundamental problems of life.

Heartcrossings said...

oneandonly - While I am female, my situation is very similar to that of the male you describe. I don't live with a husband. It is just me an my daughter. I could decide to live in India if I wanted to - but I have chosen not to.

My parents will likely never live here with me. The complexities of my life have changed in fundamental ways - to the point I bear little resemblance to the girl they raised. To that extent, there must be some discomfort and distance between them and me.

I think we expect our parents to travel the distance mentally (as they have done physically when they visit with us) to understand who we have become and accept us unconditionally.

If instead we did what we expected from them, things could be a little different. I have attempted change in small ways thinking about what I would expect from my adult child in the future. I have found that to be a reliable yardstick.

Most importantly, I have come to realize that I will live with the consequences of all that I do wrong - sometimes it is too late to make amends. Right now is the time.

I guess this movie made me think about things that I don't always have time to think about - things that are too important to forget.