“Bauji tumse nahi… apne aap se naraaz the.”
Renu speaks in a somber voice as Hathi Ram Chaudhary sits next to his upset wife; out of focus not just for the camera but also in his own thoughts probably. The shot is set in a dimly lit hospital corridor, and is part of a grim scene of Amazon Prime’s highly thought-provoking series, Paatal Lok. The episode is named, Of Fathers and Sons.
They say all good things are simple. Maybe that’s one reason why this plain dialogue is so hard hitting. Maybe it’s the finely woven story and characters. Either way, the effect is instant. The scene and the dialogue stay etched in memory. And I, as the audience, can’t help relate to the sentiment.
At that particular moment of screen time, we are all Hathi Ram Chaudhary dejectedly hanging our heads in helpless remorse, because we know. We understand. Fathers don’t hate their children. They more likely hate themselves. And children don’t hate their fathers, they most likely hate themselves.
The beauty of the scene probably erupts from the helplessness of this knowledge. Because reality, everyday life, doesn’t care about these emotions. It simply tumbles down like a boundless waterfall one moment after the other. And people are mere puppets with involuntary actions and reactions all of which only add up in the hindsight of memory to haunt us for longer than we would like.
Just as this scene leaves me with a thought…
Why are we all so angry with ourselves?
Just to think that a majority of the time we hurt those we love because, in our guy, we hate ourselves is such a tragedy that it is actually funny. To think that our well-meaning hearts just want to make another happy and proud of ourselves, and all we manage to do most of the time is the exact stark opposite. How absolutely doomed our effort to love and care for another.
Is that what makes it so special? It is, isn’t it?
As a child, I used to think (a little too naively I must admit) why don’t people just speak to each other, explain things as they are. There would never be any misunderstanding, and we can all live happily ever after. But being alive long enough makes these things clear. Wearing your heart on the sleeve is probably even worse. It is the equivalent of burdening someone else to accept and acknowledge what you feel, what you want them to feel. That’s selfish. More importantly, it’s impractical.
We are always landing up on different plains of feelings and thoughts. There is no way to explain to another where you really are. You can quantify it with trivial demarcations like physical location, times of the day, what you are doing at the moment, where you want to be in the long run, and other generic words that are supposed to explain your state of mind—happy, sad, anxious, insecure, angry, accomplished, etc.
But these are just tentative impressions or signals you send out to explain your perspective, hoping the one listening to you will get you. It is like playing dumb charades, for life. It’s tiring, and we’d more often rather be in our own isolated orbits of self-understanding and self-loathing.
Parenthood, in such a reality, seems a bit like making a loving deal with the devil. Bringing home a ‘bundle of joy’ who will hate you determinedly for a majority of the time. And whom you will keep expecting to win over one fine day, if you don’t beat them to death first that is. What a prospect. Many go as far as to claim that there is no bigger happiness!
And maybe this isn’t just parenthood but all relationships. Each and every single one of them; a pact with the devil to do the tango with love and hate, and hope and despair. And yes, probably there’s nothing more special, more joyous, and more meaningful than this untiring attempt to know about another human consciousness.
It is like a screenplay written by Vishal Bhardwaj bidding farewell to beloved Irrfan Khan. Mere passages of knowing. From scene A to scene B to scene C. Disjointed bouts of familiarity strung together to convey the essence of a person as best as possible. Just the tip of the iceberg. The rest, the million other moments of existence hidden away. Probably, in careful custody of someone else’s memory.
Only the man gone has the complete narrative.
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