Saturday, June 24, 2006

Two sketches

He is at work. His mobile phone rings. Its her.They talk about many things, how he is doing, what she is doing, the weather and in between all this she punctutates her sentences with lines like "I am bored" and "Come back soon" and yet it feels like she is holding something back. Its almost as if there is something more she wants to say but is not sure if she should make herself seem so vulnerable. Its probably more so because of how he is than her own nature. He is the kind who has always looked down upon outbursts of emotions which made you look weak in anybody's eyes and that means anybody's. So here they are, making small talk and suddenly she says "I miss you". He becomes quiet, a half-smile spreads across his face as he bows his shaking head and says, "Mom, mom, mom!"

He is an old man dressed in white pajama-kurta, most probably a Bohra Muslim from the cap he wearing. He has a long silvery beard and a garrulous disposition. The young man takes his place opposite him in the train from Wadala to Andheri on the harbour line. The young man takes out his newspaper and after a while of reading finds somebody tapping his hand. He looks over the paper to find the old man asking for the Mumbai Mirror if he was not reading it. After handing it over and going back to reading the paper, the young man again finds himself being accosted. He puts his paper down to find the old man pointing his finger at something in the paper. He looks
at what the old man is pointing to to find a picture of Gurdeep Kohli, a TV serial actress in a figure hugging salwar-kameez. The old man says- "Hamare mulk ki auratein bhi aaj kal Los Angeles ki aruaton ka mukabala kar rahi hain"(The women of our country are also competing with the women in Los Angeles) clearly pointing at the breasts of the TV actress. The young man goggles at his words and before he says anything the old man creates an illustrations of her
bust in the air and lets out a guffaw. The train pulls into the Andheri station.

Friday, June 16, 2006

To forgive or not to forgive...

How do we deal with issues of forgiveness? How simple is the question of weighing the act committed vis-a-vis deciding if the act committed deserves to be forgiven or to be punished? I have struggled with this question for some time now without too much luck. I am going to try and steer clear of a debate on conservatism vs liberalism but there is a possibility this might slink in at some stage.

Over a conversation with a person very dear to me, I was told that forgiveness at some level depends on the person we are dealing with and what they mean to us. So as a concept if my mother and my best friend committed the same mistake, I would deal with it differently. That's understood because we are always prejudiced to some extent when it comes to our parents. But what about the rest of the world. I was also told that forgiveness depends on the past history of the person involved. By that she meant that forgiveness would depend on how much good the other person has done to her vs how much bad the other person has done to her. Assuming we go by this criteria of judgement, this would not leave any room for a repitive offender to be given a chance to rehabilitate and on the same note it would give a one-time offender a chance to commit another mistake tomorrow. That might seem like an over-simplification of the issue but its something I can't help thinking.

I have for a long time believed that in any situation we face, there is always a way to go about doing the right thing-call it my sheer naivete if you like but I still believe this.But the argument that was thrown on my face was that the right thing could differ from one person to another. I was told that maybe one of the parties involved might not think of what it did or was doing as wrong. In that case how do you fix resposibility. For example let us consider a person with an impeccable driving record all his life. However the person has a habit of talking on the mobile phone while driving. Its just how he has been driving all these years. He one day accidentally runs over a boy and the boy dies. Nobody knows that the man was using the phone while driving and in the eyes of the judge and most people involved, it was an accident and yet what does one tell the mother of the boy? When something wrong happens to us, we always try and fix responsibility. What should the mother do? The same person I mentioned before told me once that what you don't know cannot harm you. What if the mother knew that the man was using his mobile phone when the accident occurred but has no proof to corroborate that claim.

How does one deal with cheating? I am restricting myself to cheating on your partner lest this spirals out of scope.Going by my friend's logic would one go by making a balance sheet by paring off the virtues of a partner against the vices and then wait to see if it all tallies or if there is a deficit on either end? What about that image that has now been seared into your head when you saw him/her with that someone else? Even if relations get reconciled, does an image in your head ever go away? I guess this would also bring in familiar concerns about the fact that maybe something was amiss with the relationship as a result of which the cheating happened which brings me back to my underlying principle that no matter what situation there is always a right thing to do.

If only there was a way by which there could be a definitive right and wrong? If only there was a way by which one knew while forgiving that if you forgave it would never happen again. But I guess since I am going idealistic anyway, if only none of these things happened in the first place but they happen and then the dilemma to forgive or to forgo happens and all these questions that come along with it also happen.