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Staying off books and the net for more than 72 hours is not something easy. But wonder of wonders, it apparently is something that can be done I found out much to my amazement, with a little (or a lot of?) persuasion in the form of splitting headaches. So the laptop and the book remained shut while I wondered what to do next, not that one can do much with a nose that insists on running other than run after it as fast as you can, theoretically of course. All that running inevitably makes one weak and I was forced to take a much needed rest. That rest happened to be in front of the television. And whaddya know, I ended up watching more television in the next 72 hours than I have ever watched in the last 72 months.  Apparently the eyes did not tell tales to higher-ups about my tv-watching activity and so the higher-ups, none-the-wiser, left me alone, as far as headaches went.

So there I was surfing the channels, now here, now there, when I saw an old black & white movie being telecast and stopped to watch it. Watching black & white movies is always a winner; they either have you glued to the set in awe or else have you rolling on the floor in uncontrolled mirth. Either way it is entertainment and I found that by choosing to watch this one, I had in fact hit pay dirt.

I stepped in at the scene where the guy (hero) had just fished out a photograph from his notebook and asked the girl (heroine) to autograph it for him. The sombre expression on the guy’s face told the whole story rather clearly. He was in love with the girl. It was obvious (to the meanest intelligence and hence to the hero too) that the girl did not have a clue about it and was in some dream world of her own which must have been the reason why the guy wasn’t even then laying bare his heart. He merely apologizes to her for being the usual obnoxious Indian film hero in the initial reels of the movie (that I missed) and she on her part, graciously lets it go, signing the picture for him as a sign of goodwill. Her high spirits seems to bite him where it hurts most for his face already long by standards of lovelorn-ness grows even longer by the minute. Goodbye, he tells her in a voice that simply had to be from the cold tomb itself; it had that sort of finality to it. But of course the filmmaker is fooling us. It is an indication to the audience that it is anything but, more like a hello actually.

That day it seems had been the last day of college. The next scene has the guy heading home with his buddy in tow who also happens to be the comic relief for the movie. The guy’s German Shepherd and mother receive him at home, in that order. As is characteristic of Indian mothers, she promptly starts feeding the son and his friend. The next on the agenda for her is the son’s wedding. But her fond suggestions are thwarted by the guy who instead puts in a request to study in a college faaaar away. Your wish, the mother says magnanimously. The friend smells a rat, not the one killed by the German Shepherd off stage, but one of the metaphorical kind, and tries to get more out of his friend in private: Has this got anything to do with a girl back in college? No, no, I just want a change of scene, insists the guy as he fondly embraces friend and bids him farewell.

Cut to the next scene. The guy is painting a picture of the girl, a bigger version of the smaller photograph he had got autographed by her. In walks mother dear. The guy, guilt written all over his face, snatches the photograph off the table and tries vainly to hide it. Anyway it is a totally wasted action considering that on the easel is the huger version of the smaller photograph. If he had any sense he’d have splattered some paint on it and tried again later on. The mother wants to know who the girl is. Guy hems and haws and answers: she is just a fellow student. To this the mother replies,

“Is this the reason why these girls come to college in the name of studies? Shameless hussies!”

Hello! You found your son moping and painting a picture of an unknown girl, a total stranger of whom you know NOTHING and you have the gall to suggest that the girl had come to college in the guise of studies to do…. errr… ummm…. to do what exactly are you trying to suggest? And even if she did, so what? How about asking YOUR son what exactly HE was doing in college instead of studying?

Cut to another day.  The guy’s German Shepherd is barking at the postman. The guy chides the dog, accepts the post. On opening the cover and perusing contents on card, his face grows longer, if that is humanly possible, in sorrow. He walks dejectedly to mother, who is podding peas and hands over the card in question. Eh? What? Whose wedding? the mother asks. The dejected guy with the longest of faces answers in a voice full of emotion,

“You don’t have to worry anymore mother. This is the wedding invitation of the girl who you were asking about the other day… the one I was painting.”

Now listen closely to what mother says:

“Huh! She is getting married? You mean there are people in this world ready to marry such girls too!”

Such girls. SUCH girls. What SUCH girl would that be? The one who happened to be born a woman and had roused the interest of a man? The one who happened to go to the same class as the guy and minded her own business? What was her mistake to be condemned in this manner?

At this point I switched off the TV. I had to think. It all seemed so familiar, this mudslinging and blaming people you know NOTHING about for NO REASON AT ALL. Of course if a man falls for a girl it HAD to be her fault. I mean if the girl hadn’t existed the man wouldn’t have fallen in love, right? Such simple minds have all the solution, isn’t it? Ahhh… But I know what some of you will say. It is just a movie. It is reel, not real. Nothing of the sort happens in real life. Wrong. This is exactly how it happens in real life too except to a lucky few, if there are any.

People heap insults on unknown others without knowing a thing about them. Even bloggers do so, on social networking sites/blogs about other bloggers of whom they know NOTHING. You have anonymous commentators making assumptions about people and situations they know NOTHING about. They condemn not for what’s written by the blogger, but what they THINK is how/who the blogger is from what little they have gathered. There are bloggers who accuse yet other bloggers of laptop-activism (when they write of social issues) without knowing them from either Adam or Eve. To be fair this is a free country and being laptop activist is not yet deemed a crime (neither criticizing them, to be honest). How do the accusers explain their penchant for making assumptions about people they hardly know? I find they too have the same deplorable trait as the mother in the black & white movie I happened to watch, of censuring people they know NOTHING about.

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