Sunday, January 22, 2017

Christmas Eve

"And Cindrella danced her heart out as graceful and elegant she can be. The beautiful Cindrella" read out Annie with excitement in her pleasant voice. 

She looked at Jinny, her 5 year old daughter who dropped her ears eagerly to listen to the rest of the story blinking her flimsy eyelids in between. Annie was a good story teller who knew the trick to put her impish daughter into slumber.

By the time the story got finished, Jinny was fast asleep. Annie glanced at Jinny's serene and innocent face. She relieved a deep sigh and moved a forward to kiss on her forehead. Just then, Lorden entered the room to check if Jinny was awake. Annie signaled him to keep silence. They both moved to their living room closing the door of bedroom gently. 

"How was your day at work?"asked Annie breaking the daunting silence.

"Hmm good" replied Lorden in a monosyllable unenthusiastically. 

 Annie could read her husband's mind. She made an attempt to unveil the worry bothering him. She asked "Are you thinking about the forthcoming Christmas celebrations and the barbie gift you promised to Jinny? 

"Actually, Mr. Jonathan's products didn't do well this year and the chances of bonus or pay hike is going to be a dream and I am afraid I couldn’t afford a Barbie this year?" answered Lorden dejectedly. 

Lorden worked in manufacturing department in Jonathan's firm. Mr. Jonathan is the owner of the firm which produced cosmetic and household products out of Agri wastes. Lorden has been working there from past 8 years dedicatedly with barely any absence from his work. Lorden's style of work often gained appreciation from his co-workers. Year on year Lorden has put more hard-work and devotion so as to earn good Christmas bonus. However, Mr. Jonathan being a miser never paid fully his taxes or bonuses to his employees. Even when the company did well, he paid in peanuts and now he has a strong reason to escape from this sharing. So, he declared losses to the company hinting the staff about the zero bonus for the year. 

"Lorden, we have come a long way with our sheer perseverance that paid us till date. We shall figure it out soon." Annie remarked consoling her dejected husband. 

"Ms. Wales was supposed to reply on the Bake House work. Did you hear from her?" inquired Lorden.

 "Not yet, but I am pretty sure on the deal turning in our favour" came the confident reply from Annie. 

Both said their good night prayers before calling off for the day.

The day next began with Lorden attending his work, Annie in her daily household chores and Jinny playing at their backyard.

Annie and Lorden had an arranged marriage but their mutual love and affection never ceased to amaze their families and friends. Both hailed from lower middle class families and they feared similar lifestyle for their daughter Jinny. The very thought of it was depressing and disheartening. Therefore, they worked relentlessly to make their ends meet, provide Jinny a decent life and fulfill her small wishes.

Lorden worked at Jonathan's factory while Annie worked at domestic households helping them with Baking, Cooking and Cleaning. They lived in the outskirts of a small town to the North of Hampshire. They lived in a quaint cottage with a single bedroom, a living room cum hall and a moderately spaced kitchen. From outside, the house looked dull with patches of faint paint here and there. But the house was well ventilated and was surrounded by bushes and a rusty fence to protect them from wild animals and reptiles. Theirs was the last house in the row and the muddy road ends abruptly at their house. The area is surrounded by huge mountains capped with thick forests on two sides. If anyone walked straight from their backyard they would find themselves in the woods in next five minutes. Yet, Annie and Lorden loved the place for the fact that that was the cheapest house they could afford in the entire town. But, Jinny was disappointed as she never had any children to play with in the neighborhood. The nearest house was 300 meters away, owned by a grumpy old woman who often gave terrifying looks. They lead mundane lives with the couple working their asses to earn  bread and butter and satiate Jinny's little wishes like a cheap pencil box or a piece of chocolate pie.

Time flew by; Christmas was just two days away. That night at dinner table Annie spoke merrily "Lorden, I am delighted we got the Bake house deal. We should be thankful to Ms. Wales".

Ms. Wales was a stout lady with curly hair hanging around her shoulder. She is kind hearted, benevolent human who lived with her family in the plush area of a nearby town. Annie helped her in domestic chores during weekends. Ms. Wales assured Annie of any additional work for Christmas so as to help her beat financial crisis. She has many contacts in the areas and helped Annie get in touch with the owner at the Bake house.

Lorden pompously gave a broad smile and expressed his elation by kissing Annie on her cheek and said  "Love, I knew this was coming. Heaven has never disappointed to grace us". That meant buying the barbie doll that Jinny had wished for the Christmas was inevitable.

For the next two days, Annie worked at the Bake house baking nearly 26 cakes a day. Bake house was looking for a good baker who could help them make cakes and cookies for Christmas. Annie was paid 2 pounds for each cake she prepared. This was later decorated with rich cream, nuts and sold at higher rate with a reasonable margin.

On the day of Christmas, Lorden and family attended mass at the Church in the morning. They came home and took rest for a while. Later in the second half of the day, they decorated Christmas tree with glittering bells and vivid decoratives.

That evening, when Lorden gifted the flamboyant barbie dressed in red, Jinny exclaimed delightedly “I absolute loved it. Thank you so much Mommy and Daddy. You are the world’s best parents. And…..I have something to tell you..actually kind of confession to make. Firstly, I am sorry. Without your permission I have invited a guest tonight who would be here anytime now. I hope you will forgive me".

They heard a door bell the next moment.

Annie opened the door and was surprised to Ms. Sequeira Daniel, their old grumpy neighbor at the door. Annie welcomed her and requested her to join the family in the living room. On seeing Sequeira, Jinny jumps from the sofa and walks towards her. Annie and Lorden glance at each other in astonishment.

Jinny meekly said "Thanks for coming Ms. Sequeira. Happy Christmas to you. Oh actually we are waiting for you. Please join us at the dinner table".

All of them sat on the dinner table. Christmas cake is served to Ms. Sequeira. Mr and Mrs Lorden served scrumptious dinner with wine and freshly baked bread. Post dinner, old women thanked everyone for a delicious dinner and staggered towards the door to take their leave. 

Just then Jinny said "Ms. Sequeria, can you wait for a minute? I will be back in 2 min".

Jinny rushed to her bedroom and came out with the new barbie in her hand. Looking at the old women she whispered "This is for you Ms. Sequeria. Please accept it” and extended the barbie to Ms. Sequeria.

Mr and Mrs Lorden looked at Jinny annoyingly. After all, that was bought with their hard earned money for their darling little heart.

Jinny further added "Ms. Sequeria, I know you stay alone all through the day. You must be feeling sad and upset sitting lonely all through the days and nights. I vividly remember someone mentioning that you lost your only son in an accident and since then you are all by yourself staying far away from this cruel and indifferent world. Hence, I have decided to gift this barbie to you on Christmas. I do not need a barbie anymore because I have found a family of own. I am no more alone since the day I came here from foster school last year. I have been through this pain of loneliness and therefore this barbie is for you so that you could play and chat with it. And God will never dare to take this away from you".

Tears rolled down from Ms. Sequeria’s eyes. She just looked at the little girl warmly, placing her hand on Jinny’s head blessing her. Her eyes expressed gratitude and she was out of words. 

Mr and Mrs Lorden winked at each other with their moist eyes and wondered if their daughter has grown up to this.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Expressive women; A rare phenomenon in Indian Cinema and influence of Cinema on the Society

While we talk and boost about women empowerment every second, there are still situations beyond the frames hidden under the dark clouds which position women as shy and introvert individuals. Involving women in decision making at home and business is not yet welcoming and encouraging. We are trained involuntarily to veil the feelings of crush or love. And at times, to bury them till our last breathe because the educated and uneducated grannies and mummies have tamed us to keep mum.

I still fail to interpret the rationale behind the existence of this trend even today having considered the modern thinking of 21st century girl. I tried to ponder upon the cause for this submissive behavior of Indian Women. The circumstances, culture, technology, attitudes of people..etc are some causes to name a few when I list down. It cannot be attributed to one reason because our behavior is influenced by our education, family background and upbringing.  Finally, I concluded that there are external factors too effecting and catalyzing attitude of Indian women along with legacy beliefs.

One of the most important of those external factors to my disbelief turned out to be “India Cinema”. I have been watching Indian movies since childhood and have been an ardent follower of the dramatic silver screen. I keep brooding watching love stories “Why do we see male protagonist proposing the proposing the female lead in many stories? Why the story does revolve around the hero trying to impress the girl with his circus stints or intelligence? And the plot emphasizes on hero’s character. Succinctly, stories are male centric with an ostensible role of female lead restricted to glamour and certain skin show. Funnily enough, the cinema crew comes with nasty titles of suitable to hero’s character or love stories with name of male lead.

I rarely came across stories where female lead has a crush on the hero and she does all the possible things to make him hers. Many a times, feelings of fondness nurtures in both of them simultaneously. However, it is always the male protagonist who takes first step to express his feeling to the girl (Heroine of the movie). Often, friends of female protagonist advice her not to let her heart out until the guy proposes. Moreover, they also add this phrase “You are a girl and girls are not supposed to take this bold step” (This may not be applied universally but surely these situations take a huge leap over the other flip). Girl is portrayed as a composed, humble, non-aggressive individual with mediocre intelligence who wouldn’t talk much about what she feels about the situation.

It is not an understatement to say we live in an influential society, Indian Cinema playing the biggest part in influencing our attitudes and approach. For Example, younger generation draw ideas of proposing a girl and the ideas of convincing her from our very own movies. It is very evident from the dressing, punch lines, songs, hair style they follow. They make references of the dialogues during conversations. Likewise boys get ideas of conveying their love and crush, girls too draw influences from the stories of not expressing their feelings unflinchingly. As shown in our movies, young girls in real life too hold their feelings to themselves and fear the consequences in case she expresses herself out first. Even an independent successful girl thinks twice before talking to her love. A girl who has been an eloquent speaker all through her life fails to express her love to the guy influenced much by our Indian movies. Perhaps because movies have been a cupid for blooming love stories and guidance is sought by the new age generation.

In a way, Indian women have been positioned as inexpressive cowards hiding their feelings for the fear of being called desperate, slut and characterless. She is habituated to subdue her feelings impacted by predefined silly societal norms and Indian movies. Honestly, we still do not appreciate and accept women who express their heart out to the world loudly. Not really. Although, I see we climbed a small step towards reaching the step of equanimity, there is a long road to walk. We are yet to see a day where people realize feelings are innate to human race and not gender specific. And women are equally given a chance to express and speak on her feelings sans any hindrance.

This article is published by on 19th January, 2017.