Friday, April 30, 2010

Maria Full of Grace (Film Review)

Directed by: Joshua Marston
HBO Films

            Maria is a 17 year old pretty girl, living in a Columbian village, working in a flower estate, in the packing section. She works to help her family, to make both ends meet. She has grandmother and an unmarried sister who has a child, at home. Maria, though 17 has a sense of responsibility. But she is not satisfied with the inhuman treatment that she receives from her place of work and even home. She has a boyfriend Juan, who is takes every chance to make it with her. At 17, Maria passes from teenage to adulthood. She looks at the world with the eyes of an adult, but she is not taken serious by many- family, workplace and boyfriend.
            She rebels with the unjust society which treats her with contempt. She wants to feel that she is important too, she is a human being too. At work, she had to put up with her boss’ strictness. Finally, she got courage to leave her job. She protested. She told her boss in the face that she is quitting. That was her very first self assertion.
            Later that day, she had to talk hard to her grandma and sister. She protested. In the evening, while partying with her friends, they appreciate her courage. But their appreciation is limited to a toast and a peg of liqueur. Life was staring at her face. She had to find a job. She had to find and define a place in this world. She ventures out to find a self-definition.
            But she was faced with another grave problem. Relationship with Juan presented her with a child in her womb. Juan, another young lad is not mature enough to accept this. They break up. Maria could not accept the stubbornness of Juan. She needed to be sure of whether Juan loved her or her body. Juan failed to gain her confidence. She decides to go on her own.
            She meets Franklin at that party. While looking for a job, Franklin said he could help her. She takes her to a drug smuggler. The job was risky. It was of a mule- smuggling drugs in the stomach, by swallowing pellets. But looking at the remuneration, 8 million Pesos, she decides to give in. Life for her was not as tempting enough as this job. A family that looks to make use of her, a boyfriend who cannot understand her, a world full of selfish people... she could easily said yes to the drug smuggler’s job.
            She meets another mule, named Lucy. They make friends. Lucy was a good girl. Necessity makes all of them do this. Maria gets trained to be a mule, by Lucy. Their first assignment was to smuggle drugs to New York. On the day of the journey, they learn that there are four of them on the same flight. One was her own friend Blanca.
            On arrival at New York, one of them gets caught. Maria escapes the customs check because she was pregnant. It was a close shave. Lucy develops disturbance in the stomach, since one of the pellets broke inside her. She got sick in the hotel. Before she got worse, she gave her sisters New York address to Maria. The drug dealers cut her belly open and took out the pellets and disposed her body off. Terrorised by seeing what happened, she escapes taking the pellets, along with Blanca. They reach Lucy’s sister. They give shelter, but the girls are not able to tell them what happened. With the help of a local grocer, they find out Lucy’s body and tell the family about what happened.
            In the meantime, they returned the pellets and got paid for the job. With the money, Maria arranged to send Lucy’s body back to Columbia. But she was not able to compromise with the world. Everything was set for her return to Columbia. At the airport, she decides not to go. She says goodbye to Blanca and returns to the heart of an unknown world, with the baby in her womb.
            For Maria, life had not been fair and comfortable. Within a few days, she learnt a lot of about a big, unfair world out there. She is not that kind of woman who would say, ‘I surrender.’ She decides to give it a fight. Maria’s spirit is not easily defeatable. She had to fight with the drug dealers to get her payment for doing this job. She had to fight with Lucy’s sister to make her understand that she was innocent. Maria, in her 17 years of life on earth saw more than her age. She still said ‘no’ to the world.
            The film catches the helplessness of a generation of the Latin American youth, at the face of meaninglessness in life. The urge to look away to find meaning and comfort comes from the lack of such opportunities in one’s own homeland. The globalised world leaves no chance for less privileged, to become what they want to be. A strange world indeed! It doesn’t leave enough space for the marginalized to dream big. The space defined for them is one of an accomplice- that of a mule. They are just carriers of others’ illegal goods, making them rich. They have no personal space. They are called mules- just carriers. A personal identity is denied to them. So they have to be within the structure framed for them. A rat-hole.
            Maria’s protest and courage is the ordinary human being’s struggle to get a space in this big, wide world. Ideologies and theories are for the affluent. The ordinary has to fight to find a place. That is what Maria did. She had the fighting spirit, even when she failed to find meaning. Terrified by a merciless world, she sheds a tear or two to gain strength. And she resurrects from ashes to stand up again.
            Let our world bear more Marias. We need them.
Sajit Olickal sj

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My way of loving..

It was fascination for the cross that led me here. Not knowing what or when or even how, I dreamt of something different for my life. Even now, I can't figure out what led me. I don't know what gave me the courage to get away from home. There were tears in the eyes of my mother. My father was weeping within. My siblings, all of them, wished me good as I left home. I still could remember like yesterday, the sacrifices my family made to make me live up to my dreams. On the eve of my departure, no one knew what to do. We didn't have money. But we had joy. We had been lacking in many things. But all of my family, 'my family' decided that I go away decently. Sacrifices that I still remember the most. They made me what I am. My family supported me. I love my family...

The cross still fascinates me. In the moments of weakness, when i break into tears, with nothing to hide, up against the wall, I stand head down before the cross... I weep, cry aloud, look at the cross... Then I am given strength..

I have wept for all of you my dear friends. It is my way of expressing love. In silence, when alone, tears flow and with lumps in throat I love you. And I really love all of you. I know this because I weep for you.
When voices fall on ears, when they touch the heart and moisten my eyes, I turn to the cross... just to say that I love you..

Today, I wept for long... I didn't know how to thank you. In my heart, there is you. We may not talk, we may not see, we may not know. But the one on the cross knows that I love and am loved. Thats enough. Nobody needs anyone's permission to love. I love..without permission..


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Estamira - A film by Marcos Prado

            Blending black and white and colour film with real-time sound track, Estamira comes across to me as a statement of sanity. While the protagonist herself is seen as a lunatic or unstable person, the message conveyed by her to the intelligent and socially receptive viewer is very down to earth truth, told in a language of the heart. To make it short, I have found a prophet and a philosopher in Estamira.
            First, I would like to think about what she spoke about God and faith. She once was a Catholic. Now, she doesn’t believe in the institutional religion which did not care for her. Even though facts are simple as that, the anger with which he scorns God and the so called men of god makes us think ahead. What human beings seek in god is a place to take refuge in times of need. It is a source of consolation and joy. But when life turns sour from alpha to omega, it is difficult to hold on to faith- especially when the experiences are as hot and terrific as that of Estamira. Being a faithful woman, she could not stomach her husband’s harsh treatment, immoral life, the experience of being thrown into the streets with young children, of being raped continuously on the streets and being treated as a mad person by the family. She ridicules a god who abandons rapes and forgets. And all this experiences change her into a free person, devoid of fear of institutions, laws, social ostracism and hate.
            Estamira places before us another pertinent thought about the society. For her, society is a bunch of untruthful cowards lacking in morality and love. The hands that dragged her into the mental asylum were the same as those that denied her help and that raped her. For her, life is to be lived in its full meaning. She picks up whatever she finds good among the dump. She is happy to be what she is, which the ordinary hypocritical social being is not ready for. Therefore, she is not afraid or ashamed to live in the dunghill of the city or to speak whatever she feels is right.
            At this juncture, let me share a feeling I have. It is about sense and non-sense. What is sense? The normal understanding says, it is conforming to social norms. But our experience clearly shows that conforming to generally accepted norms (laws) result in nothing new. Looking at history, we see whoever brought about a change thought differently and acted odd. They were all enemies of the institutions. Aristotle, Copernicus, Jesus, Revolutionaries, etc. are a few such names. They were all called lunatics by their contemporaries. But what time has proved is quite contrary. They were the wise. And those who threw them to the borders of society were the real lunatics. Estamira is a lunatic for you and me who conform to the social norms for the sake of existence and daily bread. Only time will prove the truth.
            The beginning sequence of Estamira in Black and White was a journey from the urban to the rural into the garbage can of the city. It was a journey that people like Estamira only can undertake. Her journey into the dump was a willing journey. She was going ‘home.’ You and I take the reverse route. We try to escape into the city, to hide under its wings of hypocrisy. She is different, because she is truthful to her heart. Camera brings this aspect out using interplay between B/W and colour sequences. This journey of Estamira ends at the seaside where freedom is in the air. Inhaling freedom and liberty Estamira continues to be an Oracle to the world- let those who have ears listen!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How much is too much?

While I was troubled with overloaded work, I thought I would relax once things settle down. But now I realize that now, I am not able to relax... May be I should watch one movie.. May be I should just sleep! Or I should listen to the programme on Solitude which Ananya produced?
Oh.. I don't think I will do anything to relax... I am relaxed already.. How much more? No.. It is not possible.. This is enough.. This will do.. This is not too much... Is it?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Its over...

Its over...
With the evening sun going down the hillside, its over...

With the sun, my hopes and dreams too slid down the slope...
The realization was a sting.. it pierced my heat like a gun shot and refused  to recede...


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sustainable Development - Save the Earth Campaign

These are two brochures designed to educate school kids about sustainable development. It could be printed on both sides of an A4 sized paper. If anyone is interested in making use of this, you are welcome.

Click on image to view in full size

We need to do something to keep our Mother Earth alive for future generations. Let not greed blind us.

Lost in Thought

Moments of lucidity.. lost in thought.. 


Thoughts of Dusk...

അറിയാതെ കൊഴിഞ്ഞു വീഴുന്ന ഇലകള്‍...
മഞ്ഞയും ചുവപ്പും നിറങ്ങളില്‍...
പഴമയുടെ നന്മയും ഇന്നലെയുടെ മഹിമയും ഒരു നിമിഷത്തിന്റെ പതനത്തില്‍ വീണടിയും...
അസ്തമയ സൂര്യന്റെ ഇളം കതിരുകള്‍ പോലെ മങ്ങി മറയുന്ന സൌന്ദര്യം...
ഓര്‍മ്മകള്‍ പോലെ...
ഒത്തിരി കാത്തു വച്ച ഓര്‍മ്മകള്‍ മാഞ്ഞു പോകുമ്പോള്‍, ഞെട്ടറ്റ ഇലകളോട് എന്തെന്നില്ലാത്ത സ്നേഹം...
മുറിവിലും വലിയ പാടുകള്‍! 
കടങ്ങള്‍ കൂടുമ്പോള്‍ കടപ്പാടുകള്‍ മറന്നു പോകുന്നു.
കടമെടുത്ത വാക്കുകള്‍... കടം വാങ്ങിയ വികാരങ്ങള്‍...
ദൂരങ്ങളും അകലങ്ങളും തമ്മില്‍ ഉള്ള വ്യത്യാസം ആല്ലേ ജീവിതം...
... അറിയാത്തവനും അറിയുന്നവനും ഒരേ ഭൂമിയില്‍ വസിക്കും...
... മുറിവിലും വലിയ പാടുകളും പേറി!


Saturday, April 17, 2010


All our pains have a life of their own. From the moment of its birth to its unpredictable cessation... When I feel that weight on my heart, when I feel that numbness again, I realize that life is still in me. And that no matter what, life has to go on... 
Sleepless nights, thoughtless moments, dumb evenings.. know not what... All the universe seems to be conspiring against me...
Who is with me? This question resounds in the silence of vacuum around me... I know there wont be a response, and that my question doesn't make a difference, except that I could listen to the echo...
Mistakes had always been there, part of me. But there had been moments of love, care and fulfillment too. I count on them. Rather, I try to count on them...

When life seems to be endless, tasteless and aimless, I go to Him. I pester him for all my despairs, because I have no one to confide to... I don't listen, I only speak. I go on... till I calm down.. Tired, I will walk back to my room...

Pains.. They live on. They will come back, I know. I now love them.. for no reason... or for some 'obvious' reasons...


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writing on the wall...

കുഞ്ഞുന്നാളില്‍ ഭിത്തിയില്‍ കുത്തിവരച്ചപ്പോളെല്ലാം ആരെങ്കിലും വഴക്ക് പറഞ്ഞിരുന്നു.
ഇന്ന് ഞാന്‍ വളര്‍ന്നു പന പോലെ ആയപ്പോള്‍ എല്ലാരും ഭിത്തിയില്‍ എഴുതാന്‍ പ്രേരിപ്പിക്കുന്നു. Facebook- ന്റെ മറിമായം.

What comes aftrwards...

പിന്നീട് വരുന്നത് എന്തായാലും സത്യമായും ഞാനിഷ്ടപ്പെടുന്നില്ല. ദൂരെ, കാഴ്ച എത്താത്ത കോണുകളില്‍ തുടക്കം കാത്തു കിടക്കുന്ന അനേകം സത്യങ്ങള്‍ ഉണ്ട്. ഒരിക്കല്‍ അവ യാത്ര ചെയ്തു തുടങ്ങും. ഇന്ന് അവയെല്ലാം ഏതോ അഹങ്കാരത്തിന്റെ നിദ്രയിലാണ്. ആവശ്യകത വാതില്‍ക്കല്‍ മുട്ടുമ്പോള്‍ അവ യാത്ര ചെയ്തു തുടങ്ങും. ഇന്നിന്റെ മുഖത്ത് നോക്കാന്‍ ധൈര്യം ഇല്ലാത്ത ആ സത്യങ്ങളെ എനിക്ക് വെറുപ്പാണ്. അതുകൊണ്ട്, പിന്നീട് വരുന്ന സത്യങ്ങളെ എനിക്ക് ഇഷ്ടമല്ല.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Voice Unheard...

Today is a day of sorrow, since I heard the voice.
Its a long time now, but haven't forgotten its tint.
Soft like a flower, yet cold in its center and sharp on the edges.
It fell on my ears, like rain on a summer's day.

I wonder, why I'm alive! when life is just a dream.
Distance is like a tree: it grows, yet no one sees.
So the tree grew, gave shade for me to rest.
And now, I shed tears. Drops aren't there, but flows.

'Come back, you coward'- I often have to tell my mind.
For it backs off like a dog in an unseen clan.
When back, I'm at home, the real me, the monster.
For it knows someone's sad, knowing well that I'm mad.

Destiny! I never believed in it, even when my pulses proved it.
To be was my destiny? May be! because I never wanted to be!
Shadows grew too long till the black ate the white.
Till the doors of my life were unsafe in the night.

Ah! Yes, the voice. It still is loud like the evening Sun.
As always, it pricks the softest of all flesh- the heart.
When the pain recedes, I realize that voice wasn't real.
Then begins THE pain, for what's lost causes greater pain!

എനിക്ക് അമ്മയെപ്പോലെ സ്നേഹിക്കണം.. സ്നേഹിച്ചു മരിക്കണം...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kurishum oru Pranayavum

പ്രണയം ഒരു സമസ്യയാണ്. മരണം പോലെ. എത്ര കൊതിച്ചാലും മുഴുവന്‍ കിട്ടാത്ത സമസ്യ. എത്ര ശ്രമിച്ചാലും കയ്യില്‍ ഒതുങ്ങാത്ത സമസ്യ. ഒരു ദുഃഖ വെള്ളിയുടെ തണലില്‍ ഇരുന്നു ചിന്തിച്ചു ഉണ്ടാക്കിയ വാക്യങ്ങളല്ല ഇവ. ഒരു ജന്മം കൊണ്ട് നേടിയ അറിവാണ്. സത്യം, മിഥ്യ, പ്രകാശം, ഇരുട്ട്, വെള്ള, കറുപ്പ്, ഞാന്‍, നീ... അങ്ങനെ ഒത്തിരി ഒത്തിരി വൈരുധ്യങ്ങള്‍ നിറഞ്ഞ ഒരു ദിവസം ആണ് എന്‍റെ ദുഃഖ വെള്ളി. കണ്ണുയര്‍ത്തി നോക്കിയപ്പോള്‍ കണ്ടത് ജീവനറ്റ ഒരു ശരീരം! കണ്ണടച്ചപ്പോള്‍ കണ്ടതും ജീവനില്ലാത്ത സ്വപ്‌നങ്ങള്‍... പിന്നെ ഓര്‍ത്തപ്പോള്‍ തോന്നി, എവിടെയും ജീവന്‍ കാണാന്‍ പറ്റും എന്ന്... മരണത്തിലും... പ്രണയത്തിലും... അകലത്തിലും... 
ഒരു ദുഃഖ വെള്ളിയുടെ കഥ അങ്ങനെ തീരുന്നു. ഇനി ഒരു ദിവസം കൂടി കുരിശില്‍ നോക്കി കഴിച്ചു കൂട്ടും. പിന്നെ കുരിശു മറക്കും... സാവധാനം ജീവന്‍ മരവിക്കും... ഒടുവില്‍ ഒറ്റക്ക്, ഒരു കുരിശു പോലെ, ഒരു മലമുകളില്‍ ഞാന്‍ നില്‍ക്കും... പണ്ട് മറന്ന ഏതോ ഒരു പാട്ടിന്റെ വരികള്‍ ഓര്‍ക്കാന്‍ ശ്രമിച്ച്... വീണ്ടും ഒരു ക്രിസ്തു വരുന്നത് വരെ...


Friday, April 02, 2010

Can we say the truth?

Is truth around?
If it is, can we see it?
If we can see, can we speak of it?
If we speak, will we be spared?
If we are spared, will we speak truth again?
If we speak again, will we be spared?
If we are not spared, will we be killed?
If we are killed, will truth be seen?
If truth is seen, will it be spoken of?
If it is spoken of, will the speaker be spared?

And finally, I realize that I am sufficiently mad!
And that my brain breaks down...
For truth is so beautiful that no one wants to see or hear it...
Those who saw are no more...
Those who heard are no more...
Those who spoke are done away with...

That is why we have lot of crosses around...

The Man there...

മരണം ജീവിതത്തോട് ഏറ്റവും അടുത്ത് നില്‍ക്കുന്ന സമയം! 
ആത്മസംഖര്‍ഷം, പ്രാണവേദന, തിരിച്ചറിവ്, തീരുമാനങ്ങള്‍...
എത്ര ആലോചിച്ചിട്ടും  പിടികിട്ടാത്ത ചില കാര്യങ്ങള്‍...
മരണത്തിലേക്ക് നടന്നടുക്കുമ്പോള്‍ മനസ്സില്‍ എന്തായിരിക്കും? 
ഉറച്ച തീരുമാനങ്ങള്‍ മാറുമോ? അതോ വീണ്ടും ഉറയ്ക്കുമോ? 
മരണം തരുന്നത് എന്താണ്? ശക്തി? ദൌര്‍ബല്യം? 

അതുകൊണ്ടാണ് ആ മരവും അതിലെ മനുഷ്യനും എന്നും എന്നെ അത്ഭുതപ്പെടുത്തുന്നത്... 

The Draining Tree

The tree that I look for is a rootless one.
Ruthless death and pain clung to it.
Dead and dry, it looks what it shouldn't be like

Beginning always had and end in history.
But some ends have no beginnings,
Like the tree that I looked for...

Standing alone on a misty hilltop, The Tree
Talks to me in sighs and silence,
Only to make me more than miserable.

When life drained humanity's veins,
Tree rose in there, just like a sign.
And it was just like a sigh.

Look close, see a death hanging over.
A story looms, a smile lingers..
Over there, I dithered like a piece of sponge

Knowing is one thing, feeling is another.
I felt life draining into me...
As the tree dissolved in misty foggy skies.

"This good friday, I am with myself..."