Wayfaring Stranger

What, exactly, is it about August: Osage County that everyone wants to remake the original play, be it in Hollywood or right here in Mumbai, I will never know. With its stellar cast of Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, the movie did catch my attention, but I couldn’t last into it 30 minutes beyond. Whatever is fascinating about the morbidly funny family has smoothly eluded me. But the appearances of this play hither and thither has me a little bewildered.

Much to my own joy, I cruised to watch a movie that would take very little out of me. The plan these days is to enjoy art and not intellectualize it. There’s enough time for that as well. So I chanced upon the Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart flick No Reservations. It’s about Kate (Zeta Jones) who is a Masterchef at a kitchen in New York (I think) whose siter dies in an accident causing Kate’s niece Zoe to come and stay with her. Kate is already visiting a therapist for an undisclosed condition, and to add to it, her sister’s death and Zoe’s guardianship. Then, as it happens in romantic movies, comes along the dude Nick (Eckhart). The movie then traverses how Kate navigates her career, fears, and love. All in all, a happy ending. It’s everything one asks for.

After I saw this movie, I had a warm feeling inside. There’s so much beauty in the things people do for you – when you’re important to them. How Kate apologizes to Zoe every time she thinks she has let her down is endearing. Here’s an aunt trying her level best to ensure that her niece who has just lost her mother gets everything she needs. When Zoe goes missing, Kate calls Nick and he arrives at her doorstep in spite of the fact that they had broken up. He drives her around looking for the little girl. Here’s a relationship that goes beyond dictum. Yes, everything about No Reservations is boldly predictable. She has her guard up. An unforeseen incident happens with her. He comes along and loves her just right. They fight. They unite. They live happily ever after.

But here’s my point. What’s not to like about this? And why oh why, do we place so little emphasis in making this a reality. I can bet this happens somewhere in the world. People are loved so much, cared for, they turn up on doorsteps of loved ones in hour of need. Why is this a fairy tale? It sure as hell is not, to me. To me, this is life. To me, the warm and happy feeling that I felt is real and honest and exactly what is worth striving for.

But yes, of course that doesn’t happen. People get heartbroken. Everything falls awry. Yada yada. Whatever it may be, this is exactly the kind of story I love. It’s the predictability of such stories that I love. And I had long forgotten that I had loved them. But spare me Nicholas Sparks. I don’t think I articulate it well enough, but it’s indeed worth every bit of the effort. Which brings me to the magic that such stories bring.

I told a friend that I don’t remember the last time any kind of magic manifested in my life. When did I walk into my space and find an unexpected note from someone I had known/know. When did a few things go astray so that I reached a place where I was pleasantly surprised. When did I hear a metaphorical knock on my door to find something wonderful waiting on the other side? I cannot remember. It seems like a really long time ago. And yet, I know I dreamt asking someone did I need to beg for some magic to happen to me? And how many times would begging be enough? I clearly remember waking up to the unanswered question.

I assure you there’s no pursuit of the magical to manifest. There’s just a strong untold tug. So do I have to go explaining it? I don’t. It’s a little bit of a pity how many people around me think I don’t want certain things because I am not vocal enough about them. I told this to P (who I dearly miss now that she’s abroad) and she said it wasn’t any of their business. But is that how magic gets done? By asking, announcing, declaring? Are we subscribed to the showy culture of aggressively taking that if I don’t scream it out, I won’t be served? Isn’t that how the universe is supposed to work? Don’t you think it’s a shame?

I find myself thinking about how Nick just arrives into Kate’s life when the chips are down. And honestly, I know that such coincidences happen. It’s the most wonderful thing to be blessed.

Today, a friend pinged and sent me a song. He said that a song he heard reminded him of me. I heard it too. As far as I know there’s no reason this should happen. But what can one say? I don’t think I get most things. Maybe I’m just a poor wayfarin’ stranger in this world.

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