I cannot recall the name of that movie. The only clue I have is that Ms J Jayalalitha had acted in it. In fact, she played the role of her real self, viz., the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. I was pretty amused to see that. Besides, its storyline is such that it is difficult not to remember it.
The story goes like this: In a family, the husband was a drunkard, and the wife was annoyed and irritated with his indulgence. She tried several ways, but could not make him give up the addiction. That habit had ruined their finances, their home, their happiness, everything. Further, the man was ruining his health also. His wife would get him treated, he would recover, and then start drinking again. Finally, the man suffered severe damage to his system, and in the course of heavy treatment, the couple ran out of all savings. The doctors too raised their hands in surrender and told the lady that irreparable damage had been done to his health, and it was beyond their capability to cure him. They suggested that if she could take her husband to a certain renowned specialist doctor in America, he could be cured. The treatment, travel and other requirements made the whole matter very expensive. The lady worked very hard, took up several jobs, and worked day and night to collect money. Her ordeal and hard work was brought up in media. When the chief minister heard about her, she called the lady and extended government support for her husband’s treatment. The lady felt very happy, took her husband to America, met the physician, completed the full medical course, and came back with her completely recovered healthy husband. On her arrival, she was extended a gala reception attended by high profile people, politicians, social workers, media and common people. Everyone highly praised her. After the event, the lady returned to her home and found her husband in a highly drunken state. When asked, he told her happily, “I am very happy. You are the best wife in the world. I am so proud of you. You can achieve anything. I am just celebrating your success and victory!” The lady was shocked and shattered. She recalled all her efforts and ordeals that she had gone through to get her husband treated, but he himself didn’t even make any effort at all on his part. What else, just in a moment, he had shattered all the work she had done, and was now standing exactly at the same place where he was earlier. She felt disgusted and angry, and killed herself.
The story was written and enacted in such a way that it is engraved in stone inside my mind. It has a very frank and clear message, a message we nearly always take for granted. It is simply about making choices. You are standing on the point zero of the number line, on one side are positive numbers and on the other side are negative numbers. You have to make the choice: in which direction do you want to go. You cannot go both ways. Yes, that is the message — you cannot go both ways. You have to make a choice.
Sri Ramakrishna put it simply thus: “A man cannot live in two villages; if he wants to go to some other village, he must leave his first village”. How I wish it would not be so. But my friend, such is the truth. Walking on the sunlit path is exhilarating, full of happiness and excitement. Yet it is not easy; one has to make sacrifices, plenty of them. To be on the positive side of the number line is never an easy task. When you make up your mind to surpass your present self and push out the boundaries within which you have been living all these years, you automatically start living a new life. With it, each and every atom of your existence is affected and transformed. You cannot look forward to a new life and make all efforts for it, yet continue with old habits and lifestyle. You have to let them go. You have to renounce.
Thus, it does not make any sense to practise breathing exercises, yet continue smoking; spend one hour jogging, running, playing tennis, but keep eating unhealthy food; aim for civil services, but spend two hours watching movies and three hours on social media; practise meditation, but also scatter your mind by idle contemplation, watching movies and do social gossips. You cannot, so you need to make choices. Pulling yourself in both directions would just tear you apart.
What is correct for an individual, holds true for a society as well. Someone was enumerating to me the different ways in which air pollution could be curbed. Friends, it does not make sense to explore new methods and technologies to cut pollution levels, spending million dollars on it, and at the same time keep throwing pollutants into the air. Indeed, it does not make sense.
The approach followed by most people is that of a bathing elephant. It goes to river, throws water on itself, becomes shining clean, comes out and throws dust and soil on itself to ward off flies. It looks no different from its earlier look before taking bath. In other words, it is like pouring water or milk in a porous bucket. You may keep pouring, but the liquid would not stay.
Your conscience must be directing you to your great aim — the place where you want to be; however, your lower self is constantly pulling you down. Only you can decide whether you want to rise higher or not. I am only cautioning you against pulling yourself in opposite directions. It could be more disastrous than you think.
My friend Nirvikar Dashora reminds me that the title of the Tamil movie is: Neenga Nalla Irukkanum. Now we also know that in the climax scene the woman had killed herself. I have made the correction in the text.
photo credit: Shooting basketball via photopin (license)
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