Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A cat and a movie

One Monday night we found ourselves at a friend’s place. Uninvited of course.  His wife was kind enough to open the door and he, to open the bar. We sat around, drinking and chatting and the night was following the usual pattern that would exhaust itself some time early in the morning. Until we were introduced to their cat.

It was a largish black cat and it had sat on a distant sofa, unmoving, and unseen by us. My friends had adopted it in Sri Lanka when it had been brought to them as a tiny kitten. It was a cat like any other. Except it had been born with two gaping holes where its eyes should have been. And it wouldn’t have lived for long had it not been for the seemingly random act of kindness on part of my friends.

Somewhere, not so randomly, the story of this cat is connected with a movie called ‘Blind Side’. It had come here in Mumbai, before the Oscars, had run to empty theatres for a week (we had caught a morning show that had four people including us; there was a couple but it didn’t count) and had gone away quietly.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, a white woman and rich housewife adopts a black boy from the ‘blind’ side of her town, treats her on par with her own kids, fights for him, gives him an education and turns him into a football player who goes on to become a legend.

It is a true story. And though it seems like the typical American Dream story, it is not. In fact, the blind cat and Blind Side are exactly the opposite of the Great American Dream Formula. That’s because, the Great American Dream is based on the power and determination and never-say-die attitude of the individual, of the common man/woman who overcomes every obstacle on his/her own and becomes successful. Whereas in real life and for most of the time all of us and especially the underprivileged among us need a hand that helps us, guides us and lends us its strength so that we can go on. In that sense the American Dream is aptly called ‘Dream’ – It is something that all of us like to see, to believe and it makes us feel good about ourselves when we come out of the movie hall with the salt taste of pop corn in our mouths.

Maybe that’s why Blind Side didn’t make ripples at the box office; it portrayed a truth that was probably too inconvenient to accept.

The stories of the blind cat and of Blind Side are also stories that depict that fine line between charity and humanity. Because charity usually is a one-time, top-down act while humanity is a trait where both the giver and the taker are on the same plane. Because a lot of time charity is about giving something while humanity is about giving up something. And not too many of us have the courage or the character to do the latter.

Blind cat stirred and jumped off the sofa and walked sure-footedly across the room. That’s when I realized that it was we who were blind.

My friend who took blind cat in is also a fine writer. He blogs at http://theopeniris.wordpress.com/

3 comments:

  1. 'Because a lot of time charity is about giving something while humanity is about giving up something'..THESE WORDS ARE GOING TO STAY WITH ME FOR A LIFETIME. SUPERB!

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  2. Thanks Sandesh & Jaibeer.
    I had been wanting to write this for some time, but hadn't been able to find the words...

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