Sunday, February 21, 2016

The naming of the Ex'es

I am wondering - why is it that an ex-husband is called so, and the same does not apply to an ex-sister, or an ex-son?

In life, there are times when people move on beyond the blood relations that they have, and become strangers to their brothers and sisters, and sometimes to even their parents. People often times don't talk to their parents anymore, or don't meet their brother for years, or disinherit their son for some misdemeanor, and so on.

Blood will be blood, people say, but I haven't found it to be so. People can and do drift apart, sometimes they push people violently away from them, despite being bound by bonds of blood. I know of so many like that.

Just like marriages and loves, people do move beyond the ties of blood, and become ex'es, Why are they not called "ex" too?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Uncle Vanya - By Anton Chekov

Read the play Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, and followed that up by watching a BBC production on the same. Superlative experiences both.

The play is set in Russia, in an estate. It has a Professor, his young wife, his ex-wifes brother, who is the Uncle Vanya, his ex-mother-in-law, his daughter, a country doctor and an old nanny (not the professors). Its a story of delusion and love, of wasted time and of youth and beauty.

If I were to name the play differently, I would rename it to be 'Feet of Clay".

So many of us are deluded about people. Young love, is mostly delusional. Young devotion is also so. Young people are so impressionable, naive and so deficient in the knowledge of the ways of the world, that they tend to take the opinions and thoughts of people older and beloved to them as their own. They also take mature people to be what they say they are. Young people do not know about illusions that mature people have about themselves, and also about how crafty seemingly mature people can be. They do not know that they can be devoured by the self absorbed older people, who do not hesitate to use their aura, and the young people's vulnerability and ignorance to take advantage of them, sometimes even their entire lives.

Uncle Vanya is man who is 47 now, took his sisters and mothers opinion, both beloved to him, when he was younger, and spent his lifetime serving his brother-in-law, the Professor. It took him 20 years and some to realize that the Professor is an imposter, his erudition false and his mind petty. But of course, by then, it was already the autumn of his life. He also sees other victims of the Professor - his beloved niece (The professors and his sisters daughter), the second wife of the Professor and his own mother - and has to deal with the fact that while he may have realized his mistake, others haven't, and that he would have to make peace with that. He is horrified with the fact that he has consistently undervalued himself, and has accepted somebody else' opinion on him to be the true one.

To me, the one line where the Professor exclaims, "Ivan Petrovich, how could I know? I am not a businessman, I don't understand these things. You could have increased it (salary) anytime you wanted." is the curve where the perception of one man converts another mans life to a lifetime of servitude and ignominy. Not only does the Professor do the damage by his perception, he even washed his hands off of his own responsibility of the affair, and turns it on the victims shoulder!

As happens with great stories and writers, Uncle Vanya touched a chord. Its easy to recognize phases of my own life where I was Vanya, the hero worshipper, the looking-to-worship kind of soul, the kind who took peoples words to be the true, not realizing that behind those words are insecurities and vanities, and sometimes even predatory emotions. I also remember the utter chaos of the moment, when one realizes that the idol one has worshipped, decked out in ones heart and given years of life to, has feet of clay. The frustration that one then battles with oneself, the loss of faith in ones own judgement, and the regret of the years gone by, along with the desperate taking of courage of accepting ones mistake, and deciding to move on. And the sheer anger of watching the false idol, the emotional vampire, still being strong and capable of claiming its next victim.

As I take stock, I can still sense some of those people around. Worse, I can sense the falsies in me, as I have grown older, and I recognize that I could be tempted to play the same trick on some young people. May I never find myself desperate to do that, and may the young people around me never fall for that trick, if I do play it.

Here is the link to watch the play.