Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The truth about my prayer

I am not hip or cool or whatever it is kids call it these days.
I am a child. A woman. A girl. A human.
And while I often wonder if there is a god out there who has time to watch over 6 billion people and billions more animals and plants,
on one measly planet in one measly solar system in one massive universe.
I can't help it. I pray. 

I pray because I am alive. 
In a universe where there could be millions of possibilities, there is only one me.
Now isn't that a miracle by itself? 
I am a miracle, I say...a pulsating, messy miracle! I pray.

I am always afraid.
Of that boy looking at me.
Of clowns, of heights, of aeroplanes, of failing...of succeeding.
But I am afraid. Isn't that just great? 
My fear is proof that I existed.
So I pray. 

I think of that dark night huddled under the stars, watching the millions of stars sparkling over me.
It was so bloody beautiful that I never slept. I watched the sun rise and start putting out those little lights one by one.
And yet the next day, I knew those stars would come out to once again play.
How lucky am I to witness that? How can I not pray? 

I think of the people who have hurt me.
Ones that I spent many days wishing them...well I wished terrible things upon them.
But don't judge me harshly, for I am only human. 
And even though I have been hurt by many a man and woman, I still go and happily place my heart in the hands of yet another one, doomed to perhaps make the same mistakes.
Call me naive but that's ok. 
It gives me reason to pray.

I think of that day in my childhood past when I should have died.
Confronted by a monster both real and at once imaginary, my feet carried me to safety.
My heart carried those scars but they too will heal one day. 
I pray. 

It's not that I am looking for something when I pray.
At least I don't think I am...
I am just grateful for what I have
It may not be much.
I am still confused about everything in my life.
And my football team may never win a trophy.
I may never marry a prince or a movie star.
And everything I have could easily be packed into two bags.
But I am here. I am part of someone's future. I am part of someone's present.
And I am already part of someone's past. 
And that means I exist for all time...infinite, like the universe.
That's gratitude my friend, for my life that is both long and incredibly short.
I smile. I pray.

And no, I don't know if there is a god out there who cares about anything I have to say.
A god who cares that I really want George R R Martin to live so I know what happens in the books that he writes.
A god who cares that I really hate Justin Beiber and I really love Jane Austin.
A god who knows that when people say hurtful things to me, I hurt for days. 
A god who cares that I really want my niece to share my love for books.

But here's what I know and while it may not be much, it's the reason I pray.
I have people I love to hug. People who may want to hug me back as well. 
I have books and music and an endless supply of television shows and movies.
I have two feet and I run. 
I have an old ancient pair of shorts, that my mom would dearly love to throw away but I keep hidden away. 
So if it so happens that one day, I meet the man or woman upstairs.
I wouldn't expect to reap the benefits of a life hopefully lived well. 
I would tell that person - dude let's hug.
You need a hug and people tell me my hugs are bloody awkward.
So let's embrace.
And pray. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thank you Mr Ebert

Thank you Mr Ebert

It was 2am in the morning, when I read a report that said that celebrated critic Roger Ebert had passed away. Generally I only pause when a celebrity passes away but this time around, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My eyes welled up and I couldn't choke back my tears. My favourite writer, critic, human being, the man whose opinion I trusted more than my own had passed away and I was lost.

It would not be an understatement to say that I love movies. Even now I watch up to three films a week eschewing even sleep at times and there is so much more left to explore. I came across Roger Ebert's website when I was teenager, just out of school. Up until that point, I only watched the usual popcorn fare that made box office noise and nothing more and the movies a person with a basic cable connection had access to. But Ebert introduced me to a world so fantastic and wondrous - he introduced me to a world where a great movie not only exists but is also appreciated for its merits and not its stars and a bad is rightfully derided for being, well bad.

With his guidance, I learnt to understand movies from the perspective of its screenplay, the direction, the acting, the background music. It wasn't just about enjoying a film anymore but rather seeing it for all its nitty gritties. I understood what he wrote and he patiently, through humour and empathy guided me. I discovered filmmakers like Errol Morris, Ingmar Bergman and Billy Wilder through him. I still remember the day I read his review on Some like it Hot and rushed to find a copy to view it. That movie was splendid and I laughed so hard that it hurt my sides. He was right as always.

It's not an exaggeration at all to claim that I have read every single review on his website (I have spent close to seven years visiting his website several times a week; do the Math) and have watched nearly 80 per cent of the movies that he recommended (his website has a section titled Great Movies filled with thought provoking analysis of the best films). I read his top 10 lists at the end of each year and even though I didn't always agree with him (I still cannot forgive him for hating Fight Club, a movie I love), I respected his opinion nonetheless. It remains my instinct to this day to immediately Google his review, the second a movie is out. I don't trust any other voice but his own. He was the man who introduced me to Jaws, ET, 3 Sisters, The Seventh Seal, The Graduate, The Godfather, Psycho and more movies than I can list. And today he is gone.

I had a teacher when I was pursuing post graduation from a very prominent communication's institute in the country. This teacher was supposed to take classes on film appreciation but more often than not, his classes were pure torture for me. He put down students for having opinions different from his own and he always made me feel inferior for loving Star Wars. Why am I talking about this teacher, you ask? Well, I thought of him briefly as I read the news about Roger Ebert. It was the period in my life, when watching films was a chore rather than something I did out of passion. Then I read Ebert's review of 500 Days of Summer. It was a movie I loved and it turned out, he loved the movie too. And he was able to articulate, in ways I couldn't why that film spoke to me on an emotional level. The teacher who was paid to teach me to appreciate movies very nearly killed that passion in me but Roger Ebert was the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe that's the reason I feel lost and despondent today. He was my teacher. He was my guide and at times when I direly needed a laugh, he was my tonic for that too (do read his reviews on Movie 43 and North to truly appreciate his caustic yet amazing sense of humour).

He was also one of my inspirations. Cancer or not, voice or not, he never gave up. He kept chugging on, watching movies and spreading his love and passion to the rest of the world. He interacted actively through his website and blog and no matter what life threw at him, he was never down. So, Mr Roger Ebert, I hope you are at peace where ever you are. I hope you know that you have touched the lives of millions through your passion (and your active Tweets which I loved). I hope you are in heaven right now watching the movies you love, by directors you love. I will think of you when I watch a bad movie. I will take you with me when I watch a good one.