Love bytes with Booma and Nanmun – Prologue.

When Nanmun was born, she created Booma. It wasn’t forced, it just happened naturally. A robust young woman turned from herself and learnt to take into consideration the needs, wants and wishes of another. She turned selfless, without a second thought. Yet, despite all that she did, she was spurred always by the wish to do more, just so Nanmun would be happy and content.

The love between Nanmun and Booma went from the need based to the intellect based kind, very shortly. Nanmun was one who needed nourishment for her soul and mind. Booma realized, again very shortly, she would not be enough for Nanmun. Not because she was flawed in any way, just  because Nanmun had many advantages and would always need more to keep her alive, interested and engaged in life.

Thus followed a series of conversations, which though mundane always revealed something new to Booma. Nanmun grew up too, and whether her conversations with Booma were enough or just the beginning of a quest for knowledge and life, still remains to be seen. Booma however, learnt some important life lessons from Nanmun and unlearnt a lot that she herself had been taught.

Back in the day, grammar books spoke of child being the father of man. For Booma, Gibran’s words about children being life’s way of renewing itself, came true.

La vie en rose…

It’s almost impossible to talk about someone you’ve never met, never seen in public, never had any contact with except as a part of collective consciousness or memory. One relies on the impression that others have, the snippets that the press releases, which have nothing to do with a person, just a persona.

For most performers, their personas which may be the mere tip of the iceberg of their natures, speak for them and build or break them. For most performers, life and art is a circus act. Constantly on the move,  constantly  surrounded by many and yet alone through it all. And then the act of performance itself, is surreal. The performer performs an act that he has honed and practiced and yet, while doing it, has to infuse it with enough emotion to move an audience. If that’s not enough, there’s always the private tussle to be the person one is and try to make some sense of the life that has conspired to bring them to the limelight.

Edith Piaf was a performer, a chanteuse or singer. She was born in difficult times, had a rocky childhood and really bad breaks in life, which she went through, with a staunch belief in the Saint Therese.  People living in another time and place can’t imagine the horrors of war, deprivation and how a simple song can dispel the gloom, maybe replacing normal life for a while. Edith on the streets of Paris, was a waif who with her accomplice Simone got from one day to another on hope and a song. Like all those who don’t have the luxury of home and family to keep the outside world at bay, she took all that came her way and focused on her dream of being an artist. Well aware of the sacrifices and pain it would take, she did what it took to hone her art, her talent.

To the layman, a performer’s relationships and private life never make sense. They become fodder for gossip, disparaging  comments, and conjecture. Truth is, performing for an audience is the greatest act of seduction. Can anyone blame the performer for a magnetic personality, an ability to make every person that they can singing only for them, there is no one but one person in the audience and that they are singing his or her life? It’s easy, to get confused, for the lines to get blurred. It’s possible for people to believe they are important to a performer, to believe they are indispensable. But, there is never any definite answer to that. Despite all the ambiguity, it seems, Edith loved and with a assurance that she had a safety net  in her beloved St. Therese who would watch over her and those she cared for.

La Vie En Rose in the title of a biopic about Edith. It literally means, looking at life through rose coloured glasses. The French version is called La Mome Piaf (the little sparrow). Although both phrases could express parts of Edith’s personality, it’s evident that there was so much more. Perhaps, the best performers are always a bit of an enigma, someone to love, but never fully understand.

Disclaimer

There is a moment in “The English Patient”, when Laszlo is carried out on a stretcher by Kip and Caraveggio, with Hana holding an umbrella over his head. They run around a fountain in the rain and it’s the perfect moment for a story to end, since it seems so full of possibilities and there’s  a feeling that the war will end. Hana and Kip will be together and they will look after Laszlo forever, while Caraveggio will pop in and out of their lives, always around to lift a stretcher.

But, it’s not going to be like that. So, to preserve the magic of the moment, I stop watching the film and go to sleep, by sheer mischance at 10 pm on a weeknight. I have never done that, knowingly, as long as I have lived and don’t know what to expect from an early night.

Sure enough, at 3am, I’m up. Without a sound, without any of the grogginess I normally feel. The night is really quiet, the kind of silence that makes solitude seem even more intense. The shadows are so dark, they seem dark blue rather than black. My mind is wide awake and filled with ideas I struggle for and over, every day. Story outlines, snatches of dialogue, blog titles, little dramatic set pieces which are as simple as a Haiku. I’m delighted and humbled by it all.

No wonder, there was once an adage of early to bed and early to rise. Although, at this  early hour in the morning, I wish there was another one we were taught as assiduously. That the business of living one’s own life is something no one else can tell you about or even teach you. That’s something one figures out and when one does, it’s to wish it was known earlier, like maybe when one was 20 and still had the semblance of a waist.

However, it’s not bad to get the first inkling of it twenty years too late. It’s quite okay to see that one will write every single day without any expectations from an audience, oneself, of any recognition or any entitlement, because that’s just part of it all. The business of living.

I don’t think, our well meaning teachers, parents, peers and we ourselves had any idea what we were in for, when we were born. Did anyone ever tell us, that after all the tough trials of every exam, every competition, selections, everything where our worth would be evaluated by others, finally we alone would be able to know our true natures and that would be the only thing governing our lives like a lighthouse? The imagery of a lighthouse at sea is quite perfect because at times, true nature seems to lead into pretty precarious places.

Neither did anyone mention that life would no longer be about ownership, claim, or certainty of a place in life. It would be an endless striving of finding and knowing oneself in every situation, every conversation, every relationship, every job, every location.  Finally, it may be the only thing worth doing, since I believe all the religions are indirectly telling us to take reality with a spadeful of salt.

“The English Patient”  ends with Hana leaving after burying Laszlo. She does for him, what she didn’t do for her father. Kip leaves Italy, shaken by the death of a longtime comrade, who actually never let him into his world.  Caraveggio is happy to be back on the road, cutting deals, living in the here and now.  The movie ends in bliss, despite the fact that there is no picture perfect ending, only the promise that they will all find their own lives and live them and thus know what makes it all worth while.

 

Gentle reminder: This isn’t a review of the movie. It’s just the disclaimer I forgot to read in my cradle.