Tuesday, August 28

nothing thoughts

It’s almost like waking up from a long dream, this business of motherhood. When I gave birth to my son, I never expected to feel such pain and distress, although I was fully anesthetized during his delivery. It would not do even that I had people around me, especially my husband, willing to help ease whatever it was that discomfited me. There was just an overwhelming amount of physical hurt that my body was trying to bear up, and I sometimes found myself crying and gnashing my teeth in angry silence. But slowly, everything seemed to alleviate.

One day, I found myself getting much stronger and ready to appreciate life again. The years that followed with our little baby seemed to hover and pass before our eyes. It felt like I was in a sweet limbo, a dream of thousand nights when I’ve cradled him in my arms, fed him close to my body until he is sated over, and ready to fall into an oblivious slumber again. Soft hushed-up moments of being with him, when all I could hear was his impassioned breathing, and the gradual struggle of the body for nourishment and life.

I have attached a great importance to these instances. Of course, there too, were those fine qualities that a mother would most readily admire and esteem about in her offspring. I smiled and closed my eyes at the beauty of it, an emotional bliss that lulled me into a long almost interminable sleep, recreating scenes in my heart, with deadened intensity, like a mime or a silent movie, interrupted every then and now by only the faintest mewling, but never really quite remembering the terrible physical suffering once attached to it.

Many years and sleep nights later, another day breaks with such zealous light and a jolting sense of something raw. I stir from all the softness, and welcome a new, harsh reality. A baby girl. Came nine months of the same anxiety and discomfort, all over again, or maybe even worse. I cannot begin to say how bad it was, as I never tried to look at it that way. But the pain that I thought I’ve most certainly forgotten, well, it was still there to remind me after all.

Of how it is to be human, and to relinquish fear.

It's been five years since, and today I am rearing up a wonderful daughter and son who would eventually cast a shadow over those months that I’ve had to endure. Presently, a long restful sleep will do me good, far from being with child.

Gabriel is almost five and has gone away to school. He asks never-ending questions of everything he sees, why or how they came to be. He watches Discovery Channel and talks about caves and mummies. It scares me that we don’t have the answers to all his curiosity, but we will go to lengths for his learning, while we are around to guide him. He exhibits an odd temperament that my husband says screams of Me. Sure enough, I am slowly recognizing myself in the many things he does, in the way he sharply looks sideways with a pout when asked to repeat what he said. My impatience. It tells me to check on myself, lest he grows up to be as dark-minded as his mother .

On the other hand, is a sunny girl, Sophia. Always going about with much gaiety, like her father. Her little childish laughter resonates around the house, it would be a shame not to smile about it, if at least in secret. Sometimes, she exhausts me, with her boundless energy, but never in a way, that I would give up enjoying her smarts or unreserved affection. Laughter should be indispensable in a home, shouldn't it? And I would like my children to always laugh, and guffaw if they had to, for what it's worth.

Many days I wake up with a worrying fit, of how my children will fare, of how we can make it better for both of them. It burns a hole in my head, and pushes me to fight for it. But other mornings, I become easy, feeling I can leave it all up to fate, as I stir and become aware of them nearby. All I can just say, is that life is odd, and phenomenal.

Friday, August 10

Lost In Translation

Last night was probably the fourth time I’ve seen the movie, and yet I never grow tired of it. Bill Murray has such impeccable comic timing and wry mockery on this you can’t help but laugh about it. I do not at all find this movie an affront on the Japanese race as other pedants may claim. For me, it is a bird’s eye view of someone who has stayed briefly in the country, seen a bit of things, tasted a small part of its culture, but has never really understood what it embodies. If it was set in my country and had portrayed some of our idiosyncrasies, I might have initially been offended too. But then I would think, that is how outsiders see us, and it can be pretty amusing in the end. Lucky for us who have been brought out to a wider audience, unlucky for them who saw only too little to comprehend what it’s all about.

However, what I remember more deeply, and probably more importantly about this film is life’s tragedy and the complexities of human relationships. The emptiness, the white nights, the feeling of displacement that both the central characters in this movie feel, the need for companionship, and on a general scale, the mechanized way that we conform with what is proper, as opposed to what we honestly want. These emotions are present in, and I think equalizes us humans, regardless of our age, social stature, or mental maturity. There comes indeed a point where no measure of material wealth or gained wisdom is sufficient to make us understand why life is empty and without a meaningful purpose, and that we are oddly lost in the translation of the very obvious things—love, sadness, joy, family, ourselves .

In the story, two Americans met in a lobby of a posh hotel. Charlotte (the beautiful Scarlett Johannson), a philosophy graduate and wife to a rather neglectful celebrity photographer on assignment, and an aging actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray’s character), a movie star nearing the end of his career and who has come to work on a whiskey commercial . After a few brief innocent encounters, Charlotte and Bob began to share feelings of their odd transitory life in Japan, the way that they are trapped in their marriages, and the uncertainties of their individual future lives. They became increasingly close as they spent more time together fleetingly, in the Tokyo region of Japan which provided the interesting backdrop, where they roamed the streets, sushi bars, bonsai gardens, arcades and karaokes—singly, or both-- apart from the married lives they were excruciatingly trying to cope with. On the eve of Bob’s departure, Charlotte finds him with another woman in his room, and there seemed to be a falling out between them. Not soon afterwards, they see each other in a hotel lobby and make up, and express how they would miss the other when one has gone. When finally they had to say goodbye the next day, the tension of wanting to be physically closer, or be able to say something but could not, of trying not to linger with the dizzying feeling of, maybe love, or longing, kept me on the edge of my seat. Yes, I too, am an incurable romantic.

The final scene is where Bob sits in the car on the way to fly back home, and he sees Charlotte in the crowd. He motions the chauffeur to stop and he runs to find the girl. He calls to her, and she turns to see him. They look each other in the eyes, for how long I cannot care enough to complain, they hug and he whispers something to her ear, and then they kiss. So much for all the tension. I can only mutter…sweet jesus….. And then a whiff of air blows and gets them back to their senses, with a certain feeling of resolve, evident in the smile on both their faces as they again part and go each other’s ways. Which left me thinking, what did he say to her? And kept me guessing--about the future, if any, of their ambiguous relationship.

I had to turn to wikipedia for a bit of enlightment, or gossip. There were many speculations about what Bob whispered to the girl’s ear. It was said that Bill Murray did it impromptu, not part of the script, and that he would not repeat what he said, in the interviews later. However, some nosy individuals might have gone the extra mile and used a device to make out the audio, and it is very likely that he had said “I love you. Don't forget to always tell the truth…”.

Well, whatever, we could always make up our own lines to our satisfaction.

But then, I am left vague in the mind and asking questions. Are encounters like these, where we find a kindred and share a mutual feeling of connection, in a disconnected world, meant to be a catalyst, a door at the end of a dark passage where we can finally shed off all our emotional layers and walk at a definitive moment where there is a blinding light, a cure to all our emotional ills, to all our manic worries, and all our interminable sadness, thus declaring our life’s denouement?

Or we resign ourselves, back to what is real and expected, to what is asked of us, but to where we can deal with things and relationships a little braver and stronger, and come to grips with the same hell all over again?

Friday, August 3

Life's Stills

Early this year, I had begun to get a little serious into my new hobby—photography. I had initial doubts as to how long I would nourish this newfound skill, as in the past I have had several pre-occupations that I really enjoyed at first, and eventually found my interest waning and getting measly for. There was drawing, calligraphy, cross stitch, beading—things that happily manifest how sedentary is the lifestyle I live. True enough, I’ve never been into sports, or something that involves sweating off or showing my physical prowess. I remember that back in school, I had always been a failure at try-outs and would cower at any sports that involved balls. I was never any good and, as a matter of saying, didn’t have the balls for it. In deference to these shortcomings however, I read a lot, gluttonously I may add, that I eventually forgot what I was supposed to be missing out in the field. And so it came to be that as I grew older, I pretty much stopped caring about things where I would suck, while other people might excel in; and instead put a high personal premium on the arts---and many of its forms. There was music, dance (which is something that, I am sad to note, never loved me back), books, poetry, painting, needlework, etc etc. It was a happy experience and indulgence, a love affair which I carry on up until this day. And now, there’s photography.

As I have written in this blog earlier, it was my husband who bought me my first digital camera. A point and shoot, no-frills Olympus that allows me to take as many pictures as my one gigabyte card would allow. It is not anything that I would call an “equipment”, but it sure does work and I do appreciate owning it. With it I am able to take photos of my little children, of flowers, of the skies, of myself, of people whose selves sometimes refuse to be taken of. In every photograph I take, in those little tiny frames of a few million resolutions, a thousand memories are frozen and committed into my family’s emotional bank. Walks in the park, the growing up months, the one where he was looking coyly at nothing, or the one where the sun gleamed on her baby hair…

I took lots and lots of photos and had fun looking at them, showed the kids off to the old folks and the relations. But then, I found out that I needed not stop there. My husband encouraged me to put up my photos, in a sharing site like Flickr. This is where I discovered people who shared the same interest and passion in photography, and who eventually became my virtual friends. I traipsed around and saw many of their wonderful photos, images that anyone in any part of the globe would be looking at with lustful eyes and admiration, or maybe even a bit of technical judgment. But flickr is in fact rather kind to greenhorns like me. So far, no one has been verbally abrasive or nit-picking on my photos, as far as the comments in my photostream go. But neither have I been getting into raptures over little praises, even though I think that most of us need to pat each other’s backs a little sometimes, as if to say we can do better and better. My thoughts are I should be able to get a better grasp of what makes a good photograph—subject, light, composition, the rudiments, and more importantly, the story that it conveys. In the light of my learning those things, and I’ll whisper this confidentially for now, I want to be PRO.

But as they say, one tiny baby step at a time.

I’ll get there.

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