Monday, September 10, 2007

Let's talk

"Perhaps," I said, not too convinced by your arguments.

"You should say yes or no. There can't be a middle path here."

"There's always a middle path. At least, there's one, in this case."

"You're a spineless creature, a vacillating moron."

"Thanks you."

"You're pathetic."

"Thanks, again."

"Look, this isn't funny anymore. Don't you realize the seriousness of the situation?"

"I do, probably..."

"Probably? You're still not certain?"


"This is so embarrassing. It was so foolish of me to expect that you'll change."


"Go to hell."

"Please don't make a scene. We can probably sort this out more amicably."

"There's nothing to sort out anymore, really. And thanks, by the way, for making me realize that."

"Let me..."

"Please don't."

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Miss Violet Stoneham is an ageing anglo-indian school teacher who lives alone in her two-room flat. Life, for her, chiefly consists of teaching Shakespeare to her class of giggly schoolchildren and a weekly visit to her her brother Eddie at the old-age home. Being a spinster, she worries about her lonely future but is unwilling to leave the country of her birth, despite requests form her niece Rosemary. The monotony of Miss Violet's life breaks with the sudden intrusion of a couple (Nandita, Miss Violet's ex-student, and her boyfriend Samaresh) who, wary of wandering on the streets and looking for some privacy, manipulates the old woman to borrow her flat with the pretext that Samaresh needs a place to write (after all, he claims to be James Joyce in the making). Miss Violet, oblivious of the real intention of the couple, happily lends her flat and welcomes the couple in the hope of a company she desperately seeks. Her happiness is, however, shortlived and she finds herself lonely again when the couple gets married and drifts away from her life.

Well, this is in short the story of 36 Chowringhee Lane, a film I was watching this morning. And I was, strangely, reminded of one of my school teachers, after I watched Miss Violet's character. Not that there was any resemblance in the story but, yes, I felt the same loneliness in both cases.

Anyways, What makes this film a poignant story is the way Jennifer Kendal portrays the role of Violet, a sensitive, susceptible, timid old woman who never speaks loud and who cannot even shout and discipline her own students. The details that show her lonely humdrum life is beautifully captured in the way she checks her letter-box everyday, the way she talks to her cat Sir Toby, the way she eats lonely dinners, and the way she cannot protest even when she's pained. There are many subtexts in the story as well: the fall of once-priviledged anglo-indians, the rise of dissent among them as they are losing out to a new breed of Indians, but Violet's life is tranquil and is untouched by all the turmoil. What remains after watching the film is the palpable sense of loneliness. And of course, there's the ending scene of Miss Violet reciting Shakespeare on a lonely street on the Christmas Night, after discovering that she's ignored and she's no longer wanted in the life of the couple.