This is a repost of what I had posted two years ago as a Facebook note.
Three years ago, sixteen:nine International Film Festival 2010 had finished its 3rd year’s first day. A day of trepidation, a day of nervousness. As photography head, I was the last core committee member to join the panel.
I remember the tears the next day. Not because the festival days were over, but because someone’s premonition said that the festival was, too.
Some of us shook our heads at it. Some of us fought the notion. When the tide of refusals to plan the next year and the rejections swept us, some of us crossed our fingers, and some drew out the swords. Loyalties were tested and sleepless nights entered our lives. Friendships were collateral damage. Trust was a commodity that now belonged to parties and not to us. A film festival had little to do with films and so much more with feelings.
You could see the arms flailing helplessly. You see the fire dying in our eyes. No monster could be tamed, no saviour came our way. You could talk about it in the office, on the stairs, and in whispers- You could see how redundancy gripped the days.
“SNIFF is not coming back,” they said
June 28, 2010.
“I tried. But she won’t hear any of it. This doesn’t look possible. You kids should try something else.”
I was tired of trying. I see no point in urging a further rush of arguments. Please understand- I’m with you only this far, and I’m truly sorry.
The tears. Oh, the tears. The false promises and the deceit of hope.
What does one do when tomorrow looks…dead?
We thought it was over. We thought the last year of UPG would be spent lamenting on the stairs, cursing every belief that crossed our eyes that this could have been done differently. That’s what happens when you lose a war. There’s ridicule, sympathy, and advice on what could have been done better. You’re splattered with blood, and there’s no mercy.
You can’t complain, though- neither of you were wearing the other’s shoes.
Then, like a sunny day in the month of July, determination came our way. One to shed the tears, store them in a chamber of our hearts and slid back into the routine of creating, organising, and living.
Of course, also came along the accusations of being traitors. Of having given up too easily.
You shut the noise and drag your feet. You watch Sagar battle it. You watch Radhika shield him. You watch Srinath fortify himself silently.
You watch a new war field prepare itself. New soldiers, new tents, new enemies, and new places to conquer. The rains wash away the caked blood and you have a lining in the place of blank skies.
Something in the air changes, some darkness moves away.
Make way, the sun has risen.
Make way, the brightness is blinding.
Make way, the first ray is here.
Miscarriages happen all the time, I’d heard. So no matter how long I carried my baby, no matter what dreams I saw for it- there’ll always be that one little doubt of the insane mind that says, you could be wrong. Four words that drive the sleep out of anyone’s mind. You nurture the foetus, it isn’t a child yet. So it’s like a rough sketch you’re practicing all your caring abilities on.
How good these are, is a matter of thorough subjectivity.
You could, for instance, smoke. Or inhale smoke. Or breathe in some virus that never existed before it gets to that little thing waiting to break out. You could trip on an uneven tile or slip in a little soapy water. Right on your face, crushing your baby. You also could have an accident, that saves you and kills that one.
And all of this time, you’ve been eating right, stepping steady, missing work, skipping the vodka.
So whose fault is it anyway?
A different and horrendous scenario is, when you lose your baby a little after it’s born. You’ve seen the eyes open, you’ve felt the heartbeat, counted the toes, cooed in its ear, heard the voice. And one day, it stops doing all of this. A weak immunity system, an angle of the head, a slip of the hand, an adulterated bowl of baby mixture. A future of colours and books and scolding fading away in fast forward. A sudden void where there was a life, a movement.
And then you’ve rubbished all hope.
The world doesn’t seem to care enough. All claims for sympathy are false. No one can soothe you now. You’ve been cheated on by the world which is so desperate to move on while you’re left grasping for those swift moments of belonging, of having put your sweat and blood into the making of another you. A part of you dies.
And exhausted, you lie down. Beaten by chance, exploited for no fault of yours.
Some of us, are different.
We try again. A different life, in a different name. Built on the memories and the principles on what you dreamed of growing all those brief rays of joy on. A foundation is what you have, but your blood is at stake again, and so are your tears.
Some of us, we venture out again.
Some of us, we don’t give up.
We dream again. We try again. It makes us nervous, and our feet tremble when with each day, we re-dream the same dreams that we once saw for someone else. Something else. At every breath it takes, it shakes your confidence if the next will be its last. It makes you paranoid and disbelieving in any good. All the good news is greeted only with anticipation of failure- because our minds, we train to live by experience.
The pride, however, is when it takes its first step- and you could lay down a million lives to see that day dawn.
Welcome to life, my baby. May you live to see another day.”
Tomorrow, I invite the joys of creation, of getting up, dusting off and riding again.
Tomorrow I step into the world Sagar, Radhika and Srinath rose back from the ashes to create.
I watch with the memories of SNIFF and the pride and determination of Aahan.