week I was sitting with my colleagues in the media in balcony, watching
our parliamentary theatre.
was startling, scary even, to actually see close up, the two sides in
battle, neither giving in; each speaking of democracy, neither exercising
it; each speaking on behalf of the people, but operating on behalf of
the farce that was Parliament was entertaining at one level, it was deeply
disturbing at another. Now, more than ever as a people, we have to pick
our way through the human theatre and shows that are being laid all around
us like land mines threatening our economy and our peace of mind.
for us, daily life is filled with unexpected revelations and flashes of
hope, which make petty politicking irrelevant. For the media, somewhat
traumatised and disillusioned by the politicians’ theatre, there was
reprieve, an opportunity for us to get rid of the bitter taste in our
mouths left from that particular assignment.
came in the form of an invitation from the Indian High Commissioner, Mr
Virendra Gupta, and his wife Veenu, to view a screening of the film,
finest art, it is said, imitates life, is a clear mirror to our lives. It
allows us to see the big picture. It puts life in perspective. Mira
Nair’s highly acclaimed Monsoon Wedding, screened at the home of the
charming and gracious Guptas, did that for many of us in the media.
of sitting in the balcony of Parliament, we sat in a veranda, in a green
of the stifling, closed-in atmosphere of the Red House, we sat in the
twilight, as the projector whirred on, taking us out of ourselves into
was India all right, with its myriad of contradictions, its teeming
masses, its excesses of wealth and poverty, its extravagant sunsets, its
emotional, idealistic materialistic people, its curious mixture of great
technological advances, its multitude of sects, tribes, classes.
one scene, two wedding guests poke fun at one another:
1: You Punjabis are so ostentatious.
2: You Bengalis are so pretentious.
vast urbane, educated middle classes who retain ancient prejudices and
wisdom is held together with another universal jell, humour. But like all
great art (and this was no Bollywood formula, this was academy award
realism material) it was universal.
how much closer can you get to the human heart, whether you are living in
Trinidad, Delhi or Timbuktu, when you see reflected on the screen a family
that can be any family, can be your family, can be you?
story unfolded. A wedding was being held in the monsoon season in Delhi.
It was an arranged marriage. The boy came from America. The girl lived in
Delhi. But the film dug in its heels. It unearthed the conflict, love,
warmth, laughter, tragedies, skeletons in cupboards that make up all
girl had secrets, a married lover in Delhi. Her two cousins were victims
of incest, her father was heavily in debt due to the expenses of the
wedding. The bride’s younger brother rebels - he would rather sing and dance than be sent to
boarding school to be toughened up.
west, relatives from Australia, and America, collide with the East. But in
the end, it was about the triumph of the human spirit in all its forms.
There was honesty - the girl told her fiancé about her lover in Delhi.
There was compassion. The boy from America, after his initial rage, became
closer to his fiancée because his love overcame his jealousy. The girl in
turn responded warmly to his generosity and fell in love with the boy to
whom she was to be married.
uncle who committed incest was exposed and turned out of the home, despite
his status in the family. It made me think of families. The way we quarrel
and get distant but almost miraculously get together in times of crisis.
made me want to celebrate the thousands of families across our country. It
made me think of river and cricket limes, Sunday lunches, birthdays and
made me think of mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, aunts and
uncles, adopted friends who become family, in-laws, and pumpkin vines,
providing a solid backdrop to our lives, pests at times, but indispensable
we have this kind of solidity, once we can, as families, face crisis
courageously, tell one another when we are wrong, forgive one another, and
love generously, no constitutional crisis can touch us. Family by family,
our country will remain intact because we the people, in the end, run our
own show, are responsible for ourselves.