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Harley Quinn (coming back from a memory): You ever been in love?

Headshot (after thinking): Nah. Never.

Quinn (not convinced): Bullshit.

Headshot (being as a matter of fact): You don’t kill many people as I’ve killed and still sleep like a kitten if you feel shit like love.

Quinn (convinced): Another textbook sociopath.

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Extreme materialism

I have seen people finally owned by the things they aspired to own in the lost beginnings. They started out poor, kicked out by their parents and grand parents to make something of their lives. But somewhere in between, chasing the great American dream as they call it, they lost themselves to calling themselves rich, be far from reality.

It is almost an every day ritual for me to see people wake up not to the sound of birds but mechanical screaming clocks. My eyes have still not adjusted to big men washing their big beautiful houses and cars starting six o’clock in the morning till there is not a peck of dirt still their on the materials they spend their day hugging. They rub, they spray, they scrub, they spray again and in the meantime, totally forget about the universe that lies quiet buried deep beneath layers of dust on their minds and senses.

I fail to understand how people fail to understand to see the pattern in their own lives. I could literally replace them with robots had I not given up my programming career.

You are not rich.

Do not call yourself that.

You are still poor.

No, wait.

Poorer.

 

How is life for a misfit?

Needless to say, I am a misfit. Who is a misfit?

It is not forever that I have known I am that. Just to be clear, I like that self-coronated label. When I was little, I used to run away at the very sight of “people”. Hiding in my room in dark under a blanket pretending to sleep was what I would do on hearing the house doorbell ring. I did not like festivals because (in India) all they seemed about was noise and hours of talking with weird-looking creatures, “look at those little eyes and big noses!”. The first thing I would do after school was to hit the bed and try to sleep to cure that awfully painful headache that came from being surrounded with so many people of varying heights indulged in a million kinds of things in that big prison of a school. And maybe because I was so far from humans, I was closer to books. Doing homework, making art, practising calligraphy and even watching TV was all I would do with my time. Sport, a highly interactive thing to do, was not my thing obviously. And since everybody around me was completely different from me, including my siblings and my parents who had hoards of friends swarming around them, I always thought there was something wrong about me.

I spent so much time with myself that I was practically convinced I was sick, that I had a rare disease which needed an immediate treatment. I would often imagine what it really meant to be normal. “God! I would give anything to get rid of that stupid ball of feelings inside my brain and hold that wretched bat for once and try hitting that fast paced ball around a gang of normal children.” And try I did. Joining cricket sessions, debates, quizzes, coming out of my shell to talk to guests at home, walking on a street without looking down for once, those kind of things! And all this used to make me feel strange, good-strange not bad-strange. But trying to come out of my zone was an effort each time. And even if it felt good, I would very quickly return to my old self, my equilibrium.

The huge gap between me and humanity has always kept me aloof of their everyday ways of living, their collective habits and the dreams they share. And it was only relatively recently in my life, around 3-4 years ago , I realised that “a part of what I suffered” is called introversion. That I was not sick, that people of my kind comprise a full one-third of this world’s population.

Introverts lose energy when they socialise. Sure, that happens to me. But like I mentioned before, introversion is just one part of me, a part of the misfit that I am. The more I read what people, living or dead, have written for people like me, the more my beliefs get validated. The more I listen to music that people like me write, the more I think whatever that has ever happened to me was “right”. And fuck, that feels good.

Today, I am no more a socially-awkward person. I am confidant about myself, never assuming all what I have learnt is complete but that whatever I have learnt is true. I have almost perfected the art of pretense, of staging a drama, of being in disguise among “people” behind an ever-smiling mask. It is incredibly draining (which is what I am trying to win over) and jaw-hurting but I am doing it quite well day-by-day, however with a constant fear of losing myself to the characters I play, which pains me because if I can lose to beliefs that are not mine, I am not very deep into my own really.

I do not agree with most of the mankind I have been with and probably the most I am going to be with. Contradictions have crowded my social life so much that when a sync happens, I grab onto it and do not let it go, unless of course it is just a play on me.

I am a perpetual victim, I am convinced, of existential crises. However, it is more of a boon than a curse. I think I know where I belong, where I fit, but currently all I can do is write. I am always dreaming, always planning, scared but hopeful, never fully prepared to take the leap but ever on the line. I am a corpse hanging depressed by a loose thread to humanity but trust me, I am smiling.

There is a pleasure in this pain because, being a misfit I see things that others cannot.

A Heart for Children

14th November is celebrated as Children’s Day in India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, was born on this day. His immense love and affection for children became a source of celebration and inspiration for our country.

I still remember how my friends and I used to eagerly wait to go to school, particularly, on this day. Our school used to celebrate the day dearly and at the end of the assembly, we lined up for the customary distribution of delicious sweets.

On the contrary to the lucky childhood I got to experience, there have been so many like me and so many entering this world each second who do not get to live the life they deserve. Paraphrasing Thoreau, as a man grows older, he keeps on forgetting instead of holding on to what he knew when he was born. For whatever time I have spent living, I had already seen enough just like everybody else, how underprivileged children have been mistreated, long time ago. My heart has become cold towards mankind. It is unbearable to watch a man trample hundreds of children to get himself something and in turn, lose his soul. 

Childhood is that phase of life when a person lays one’s foundation. It is when one is new to the immense world around him and needs to spend a lot of time gathering information about it so that he is capable of deciding what path to choose for himself when he needs to. Childhood is that crucial time when a child learns in protection and love of his family so that when the adulthood kicks, he can stand on his own and in turn protect himself and better, his family too. Childhood is when a child has to spend time as a child. You take childhood away from someone’s life, you kill him. A new born adult is a brain without mind, a body without soul, a life without love, a dream without goal.

I fail to understand how can people be so merciless? Why do they care only about themselves? When my mom recruited one more child to clean our house, I was surprised that she did not even ask his name. She called her “chotu” right away and handed him a mop and a duster and showed him the corner of the house to start with. His life ended the moment he stepped into our doorstep and joined the league of an endless chain of “chotus”, little zombies working at beautiful plush homes. How ironic! Such beauty hiding such ugliness, such clean faces hiding such filth.

I have been mute, I have been shameless too. When I tried to raise my voice, hundreds would gather around me with shouts louder than mine, muffling my voice to a whisper for those who can listen to it only if they want to.

It is painful to watch little babies rolling alone in mud and young hands washing adults’ dishes. It is painful to watch little children earning their livelihood while I get to eat anything I want at the click of a button.

A moment comes when guilt and disgust against myself reach such a level that their faces start looking happy to me because they actually are and I, in my own fine riches, am finally just a sad little human being.

Lost in Translation

The more you know who you are, what you want, the less you let things upset you.

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Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, a famous American actor who has visited Tokyo to shoot an advertisement of an alcoholic drink. Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, a philosophy graduate who has come along with his photographer husband to Tokyo to accompany him on one of his projects. While Bob spends time either shooting for the ad or meeting his fans and other people or alone in the hotel itself, Charlotte tries to hang around Tokyo trying to immerse herself in the culture while his husband is mostly away. The catch is both are in the same hotel and both are failing miserably having a good time.

Bob has spent twenty five years in a marriage with a wife who has learnt to live by herself thanks to her super-busy husband and kids who do not really need a father with a self-sufficient parent around. He gets faxes and calls from his wife regularly while he is in the hotel, talking about all sorts of mundane things that he just does not give one fuck about. It’s not like he is an unhappy married man but things have certainly changed. The spark is lost. The magic has stopped. The playfulness is gone. And he is stuck in a faraway country, among incomprehensible billboards and strangers speaking an uncomfortably disturbing language, the first few days of which he spent experiencing a painful jet lag.

Charlotte is a beautiful woman who does not really know what to do in life. She is married to her husband for two years but the marriage does not look like it is likely to survive, for the love is absent. She tries to adjust to her surroundings but ends up every day sitting by a large glass wall looking at the whole city from a bird’s eye. She graduated from Yale, she doesn’t connect with most people, makes fun of every one in her head because their dumb lives seem funny to her. She cries, picks up phone to talk to her friend and puts it down after realising they all are busy.

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Bob and Charlotte find an escape in each other. They talk about things people do not usually talk about. They sing and dance and drink and roam around Tokyo. And they indulge in the following conversation one night, my favourite.

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Charlotte: Why do they switch the “R’s” and the “L’s” here?

Bob: Oh, for yuks. You know, just to mix it up. They have to amuse themselves,
’cause we’re not making them laugh.

Charlotte: Let’s never come here again,’cause it would never be as much fun.

Bob: Whatever you say. You’re the boss.

Charlotte: I’m stuck. (A pause). Does it get easier?

Bob: No. (Thinking)…. Yes. It gets easier.

Charlotte: Oh, yeah? Look at you.

Bob: Thanks. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let … things upset you.

Charlotte: Yeah. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be. You know? I tried being a writer, but … I hate what I write. And I tried taking pictures, but they’re so mediocre, you know. Every girl goes through a photography phase. You know, like horses? You know? Take dumb pictures of your feet.

Bob: You’ll figure that out. I’m not worried about you. Keep writing.

Charlotte: But I’m so mean.

Bob: Mean’s okay.

Charlotte: Yeah? What about marriage? Does that get easier?

Bob: That’s hard. (A pause). We used to have a lot of fun. Lydia would come with me when I made the movies, and we would laugh about it all. Now she doesn’t want to leave the kids, and she doesn’t … need me to be there. The kids miss me, but they’re fine. It gets a whole lot more complicated when you have kids.

Charlotte: Yeah. It’s scary.

Bob: It’s the most terrifying day of your life … the day the first one is born.

Charlotte: Yeah. Nobody ever tells you that.

Bob: Your life, as you know it, is gone. Never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk, and … And you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most … delightful people … you will ever meet in your life.

Charlotte: Hmm, that’s nice.

Bob: Where’d you grow up?

Charlotte: I grew up in New York, and I moved to Los Angeles when John and I got married. But it’s so different there.

Bob: Yeah, I know.

Charlotte: John thinks I’m so snotty.

Bob: You’re not hopeless.

There’s nothing very interesting about the movie. But it feels just right. Bob and Charlotte find solace in each other and the rest of their days in Tokyo are spent in happiness. When the day finally comes for Bob to leave, he leaves but with a discomfort in his heart. He sits in the taxi never to return, maybe never even to see Charlotte again ever. But he finds her, right there in the crowd on his way to the airport. He stops the taxi right there, runs to catch her and hugs her tight. He whispers something in her ear and Charlotte replies with an “okay”. They kiss and tears spring up in both’s eyes. Bob sits back in the taxi with a content smile and a closure. I don’t know what he whispered to her. Maybe he asked her to believe in chance occurrings. Maybe he told her that this is not the end and they will meet again in America. Maybe he told her to leave John as soon as possible and come to him. I don’t know. The director doesn’t want me to know. Life’s mysterious. He wants to keep it that way.

So, I’d rate the movie what I’d rate life.

A Single Man

A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds, the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think. And things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them but like everything they fade. I’ve lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realise that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.

A Single Man is a movie about a college literature professor who lost his love around a year ago. The movie starts with the beginning of the last day of the professor and progressing through each phase of the day, summarises his whole life.

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Professor George, played by Colin Firth, hopes to get done with the day like every day but this time a bit differently, this time never to wake up again. He packs a revolver in his bag and suits up. His day is slow for he never rushes through moments. His neighbourhood, college and strangers make a big part of his life, fill colour in the seemingly perpetual darkness. Girls swoon over him, ladies see him a fine gentlemen, people see success in him.

How society overlooks the reality! Professor George though is a gentleman because he takes his responsibilities seriously and behaves amicably even when he wakes up with the feeling of just getting done with the day. George does not want the same conventional future for his students. “Look around you, Grant. Most of these students aspire nothing more than a corporate job and a desire to raise coke-drinking tv-watching children who as soon as they can speak start chanting tv jingles and smashing things with hammers.

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I wonder how differently beautiful his day would have been in the old days, days when his lover used to be by his side. I say different because his days are still beautiful, because awful things have their own kind of beauty. A man never ceases to learn, more so on his last day. The wheel of time goes on, history repeats itself and the professor finds a young boy, beautiful and cheerful and honest just like Jim (his dead boyfriend), in the same bar.

Julianne Moore plays Charlotte, a drunkard loner left by her husband after long years of marriage, aching for George’s love. Her and George’s relationship begins with a blue shiny bottle of gin and ends with it. They drink and talk and dance. She looks at her with hope and his mind is still flooded with images of old Jim. She refuses to leave for Paris because George is here. She refuses to live because George refuses to live with her. Stuck in time and memories, they both try to survive.

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George is not the kind of man who kills himself. The night unfolds its magic and he finds hope in the same revolver, which Kenny has hid from him and kept by his side while he sleeps. After he learns George’s reason for living life in a cocoon, for being so lost all the time in a vast ocean, for his forehead injury, Kenny invites him to open up, by opening himself up before him. They go back to sleep but George succumbs to the long impending fateful heart attack. Just before he takes his last breath, he is kissed by the light of Jim and he accepts his life and death happily.

Because it happened the way it was meant to be.