Tag Archives: cry

Chickens, pigs…and who is the beast?

Yesterday dawned as a regular, peaceful Monday morning. I love the silence of the morning. It helps me think and I enjoy working alone in the kitchen at this time. At around 6:30 am I was busy chopping vegetables and getting stuff ready to pack lunch for my daughter’s school. Suddenly there arose a very unfamiliar and heart rending cry of a pig in agony. Unfamiliar, simply because there are no pigs in the area and no one generally goes around slaughtering pigs in my neighbourhood. I let the first series of cries pass thinking it’s someone driving past with an unhappy pig on board. About 10 minutes later another fearsome cry filled the air and it went on for some time. From then on, the morning was punctuated with cries of pigs at an incredible decibel level. I was now worried that the ground next door to my house was becoming a slaughter house of sorts. I switched off the gas stove and decided to run down and inspect. My watchman was there already peeping into the ground next door. And of course there was a nice gathering of gazers. I saw a little van standing at the entrance of the ground. Stuffed at the back of this van were several well fattened pigs. There were about 15 of them, so terrified, that they were climbing all over each other to try and get to a corner and hide. It was a sad sight. Even as I took this in, I saw a group of men drag a pig out of the ground. It was resisting hard and it was with great effort that this group of 6 odd men managed to push it forward. As they neared the tempo, in a well practiced routine, a couple of them grabbed the pigs’ ears, a couple grabbed his hind and front legs and the rest grabbed various parts of the pig’s anatomy. At this point the pig started screaming, naturally, fearing for his life. I watched with horror as they unceremoniously lifted the heavy pig and literally threw him into the tempo. I feared that the pig might have broken his leg – given his considerable weight and his heavy landing. His landing caused panic amongst the pigs in the tempo and there was a mad, worried, scramble as they tried to find secure spots within their confined space.

The men were breathing heavily from the effort and while they were getting their breath back, I asked them what exactly was happening. One man, who refused to meet my eye said, these pigs had escaped, so they had somehow managed to chase them into the ground, where they were able to corner them and throw a net around them. Now they were taking each trapped pig and depositing it in the van. I asked what exactly they proposed to do with the pigs. The men shuffled uncomfortably and one of them looked at the ground and said, “there is a place nearby where they rear pigs, we are taking them there.”

It sure did not look like that to me. I could guess that they were taking the pigs to the slaughter house and perhaps that was for the best since most might have many broken bones by now considering the way they were being mercilessly flung into the van.

The men proceeded to haul the last two pigs trapped in the net into the van. I watched with horror as the pigs were unceremoniously lifted and flung in. Then, mercifully, the last of them was shoved in and the van drove off. I was feeling giddy with the cries of the pig and my helplessness was making me angry. Why did I not do anything to save the pigs? What could I have done?

Then this morning I saw a truck full of chicken cages. You know, those really tiny cages into which they stuff at least 4 fully grown chickens. I often wondered how the poor chickens could survive this nightmarish journey. Wouldn’t they get crushed to death? I got my answer this morning. A man got on board the truck and opened the cage, obviously the chickens were dead. He just opened the cage and dropped them down on the floor. This really saddened me. This complete lack of dignity in death.

I believe every living creature deserves to live with dignity. Even if you are taking them to the slaughter house, till their very last breath they deserve to be happy. No living creature deserves to be treated the way I witnessed. Makes me wonder, who the real beast is.



We are a family – dammit!

I have this super cool merchandise idea for Mr Karan Johar’s latest flick ‘We are a family’. A branded box of tissues.

No jokes. Considering the movie is so soppy! Half the members of the audience were sniffing and pretending they’ve suddenly developed a nasty cold. The other half were yawning or squirming in their seats or watching the others sob silently.

This very Indianised remake of Stepmom is not for the cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat types. You have a divorced couple – Kajol, Arjun Rampal and their 3 kids aged around 4, 8 and 13. Kajol is a supermom who manages all three kids brilliantly and singlehandedly. Plus I’m guessing she has some sort of career going in publishing because she has this lovely little house with a lovely little garden. Arjun Rampal is a bustling fashion photographer and is having a hot affair with a cool, happening designer…ta ta dai…Kareena Kapeer. And oh before I forget, the movie is of course set in San Francisco.

Kajol is starting to look old and certainly needs to do a crash course in understated acting. Arun Rampal is also ageing – albeit gracefully and still looks dishy. His restrained performance was a treat. Kareen looks good and surprise surprise… has handled the role with absolute panache. The three kids do a decent job of it – the youngest one is a natural and certainly gives heart tugging moments. Her obsession with fairies and tiaras and magic wands make you go awwwwwwwww right through.

So here’s the story. Supermom Kajol and the three kids do not like Kareena and want her out of their father’s life. Kareena tries hard to win them over – but no luck. But then supermom is diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and their lives turn topsy turvy. Arjun Rampal comes back to live with his family and eventually Kajol realizes that the kids will need a mom after she ‘goes’. So enter Kareena Kapoor into the home. Till this part the movie is fine.

Then the sop begins. The ‘I’m gonna die but I don’t wanna leave my world and go’ cloud hangs in the air. Everyone cries. Goodbyes go on and on. There are those give-this-family-jewellery-to-my-daughter-when-she-gets-married moments. And the she-will-be-the-most-beautiful-bride-in-the-world moments. And the I-will-be-a-star-in-the-sky moments. And the think-of-me-and-i-will-be-with-you-even-if-you-don’t-see-me moments.

In the end you just want to woman to go so that you can go home too. I wish they had cut down the sop and made the movie more crisp and understated. The happy pace of the first half is simply missing in the sobbing second half. And somewhere there the movie has gone wrong.

So my verdict is if you want to get rid of all the dust in the eye and clear your nose. Go for it.

One Saturday morning

It dawned as Saturdays usually do. Lazy and purposeless. The alarm rang and I woke up with the regular thoughts about what-to-pack-for-lunch-and-snack.  Then I remembered “ah…no school, no office…no hurry” – time to cuddle the child sleeping blissfully next to me and drift back to sleep.  I  drifted in and out of sleep until, I finally woke up at 6:30 am. The silence around the house greeted me like an old friend. I held its hand and set about the happy task of making my morning cuppa. My tryst with solitude was rudely broken by the sound of the doorbell. I was startled! No one generally rings our bell this early in the morning. Even the milk lady has been instructed to just leave the milk packets and go. Who then could this be? I hesitantly walk to the door. The peep hole of our front door is made to the height of the rest of the family (who are a good one foot taller than me…humph!) – so of course I could not see who it was. I opened the door slightly to see my neighbour from downstairs standing. Tears were streaming down her face. She was wearing a torn sari, the tip of which she was using to wipe her tears. Her whole body was shaking. Totally perplexed at the sight I opened the door, let her in and settled her into a chair. She wept uncontrollably and did not answer any of my questions regarding her state. Hearing the mayhem, my MIL (mother-in-law) sauntered in looking as perplexed as me. We exchanged ‘eye language’ over the woman’s weeping head as I shrugged to tell her I did not know the cause for this outburst. We of course knew that the woman had an ailing, bed ridden mother – we thought that perhaps the mother had passed away.

But when MIL asked her that she shook her head. And then she said in true filmy style (much like the well endowned Tamil heroines of 60’s era) “Don’t ask me what happened. My life itself is a mess. I’m a wasted and unwanted creature.” She said and wept even more. (The original dialogue was of course much more dramatic since it was in Tamil!)

MIL and I exchanged more bewildered what-the-hell-do-we-do-now looks over her weeping head. Finally MIL took charge and told the woman in her sternest tone to stop weeping. I then scurried to the kitchen to make her a cup of tea. My husband chose the moment to drift out of bed. Totally unaware of the drama he lazily walked into the living room, gawked at the still weeping woman and dashed back to the security of the bedroom, back into the sheets and back to sleep. Perhaps he thought he was having a bad dream. Laughter bubbled up to my lips – but how can one guffaw with this woman weeping for God-knows what.

The tea calmed her down. We watched as she drank with shaking fingers. And eventually she spoke. Apparently she had had a big quarrel with her brother. Just for a little background – the woman is a divorcee and her two daughters are studying, staying in a hostel somewhere. She stays in Chennai with her unmarried younger brother and her sick mother. A depressing household that smells of the sick. I remember writing about it once before over here. The lady looks depressed all the time and her sad eyes follow everyone everywhere. Her sickly mother is an uncooperative patient and does not make life any happier for her! This being the background – the woman sniffed and told us that her brother had forbidden her from going out anywhere and in the quarrel that ensued he had actually hit her with a stick. We were full of sympathy for her and my MIL went on to cheer her up by telling her what a great service she is doing by taking care of her mother.

Eventually the rest of the household woke up. My husband too woke up to realize that this was not a nightmare. She was there for real!

The woman had tea and then settled into our home. Refusing to go. If my MIL walked into another room the woman followed her. So my poor MIL relegated herself to the living room and kept making small talk – all the while throwing big hints that it was time for her to leave as we had our own chores to do. The woman refused to take any hints and our sympathy quickly turned to irritation as we felt caged in our own home.

We surreptitiously had breakfast and debated whether to feed the woman or not. Mercifully our watchman came in just then and announced that the woman’s mother was looking for her. She left then – reluctantly. And we all heaved a collective sigh of relief.

Our peaceful Saturday morning lay in tatters – filled with the tears of the woman. With the sadness of her life. The helplessness of her situation. We were guilty that we wanted her to leave. But relieved that she had left!

The watchman came back to tell us the other side of the story. The woman is prone to depression and her brother was having a tough time trying to balance a sick mother and a depressed sister. Sigh. Life is so unfair sometimes. I tired to see how they could make their life better. They could maybe – if they tried. After all happiness is in little things. A walk in the park. A happy book. A relaxing hobby. Anything to keep the sadness at bay. Finding that happiness within ourselves is easier said than done  suppose.

For now all we do is avoid the woman when we see her standing downstairs. We certainly do not want another day like that Saturday. No way.

The choices that life throws open

I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a movie that it made me cry.  Yes, I did for this one. And no. I’m not ashamed about it. At the end of the movie, while I discreetly wiped my tears and sniffed – I wondered what it was that had made me cry. Certainly not the tedious, melodramatic, oh-so Bollywood, climax! I mulled over it for a day. I think I now know why.

For the uninitiated – the movie is Paa – in which Amitabh Bachan plays a 12 year old boy named Auro. The boy suffers from a rare disease called Progeria which causes the body to age 5 times faster. So a 12 year old boy will have the body of a 60-70 year old person. The brain however is that of a little child.

I must pause to credit the director. At no point in the movie are you made to feel sorry for Auro. He is treated like any normal 12-year old. His mom (played by Vidhya Balan) treats him like a friend and does not overly fuss over him because he is a special child. No melodrama there. Thank the lord… ah…no the director.

Well, the story goes this way. Abhishek Bachan (AB) and Vidhya Balan (VB) meet each other as students in Cambridge. They fall in love and the inevitable happens…VB ends up getting pregnant. Now the classic debate for AB. Should he do the right thing and marry her. Or should he run after his dreams of being Politician. He prefers to chase his dreams.

VB deals with the same issue – she is studying to be a doctor and is keen to complete it. She also worries about being socially accepted as an unwed mother. What must she do?

The most astounding chemistry in the movie is that of VB and her mother – played by Arundhati Naag. The mother convinces VB that she must do what she really feels is right. So VB bids adieu to AB and tells him that it’s all taken care of. And they part ways.

VB goes ahead and has the child. Auro is born. (Not short for Aurobindo. Just Auro – he assures you towards the climax).

There are amazing moments in the movie…how the mother and daughter duo handle the boy’s disappointment…or when VB is with Auro in the park and someone asks her what is wrong with her son…

Ah yes the script is impeccable. The characters have been etched out wonderfully. I particularly loved VB, her mother and AB. Auro is shown as an intelligent and sensitive child. So you’ll want to ignore his moments of impertinence.

What touched me in this movie was the classic, heart rending debate between what you want to do and what is ‘expected’ of you. Do you chase a dream or do you abide by social norms? The practical or the emotional. How do you make that choice? How do you judge at that moment what is right – when that decision could alter your life? You have no clue at that point about what life will throw at you. So you need to decide and then you need to have the courage and strength of mind abide by it – come what may! Life is tough, huh This I guess is what made me cry.

Aside: M came for this movie with me. Before entering I told her the story and reassured her its just a movie and everyone is just acting – so no need to feel sad or cry. She happily sat through it. Then when she saw me sniffing she rolled her eyes and said “mom it’s just a movie!”