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Something funny happened yesterday: I addressed Google as Alexa, and asked it to play the movie ‘The Swimmers’ for me.

By the way, have any of you watched ’The Swimmers’? If you haven not I suggest that you do. The movie is based on a true events. But of course my recommendation is not based solely upon that aspect of the movie. It is well made, the acting is superb, the story heartbreaking and inspirational.

Well hope that’s sufficient to peak your interest in ‘The Swimmers’. If not here’s something more. It won a standing ovation after its screening at (correct me if I am wrong) the Toronto Film Festival. I for one am not in the least bit surprised for I gave it one on my own as well, in my living room.

I don’t know about you people, but books and movies are not merely a source of entertainment for me, a mere leisure time activity, the story to be followed to its logical end and then remembered fondly for its characters, locales, the excellent writing/scripts. Oh no, no. They make me THINK in ways I have found most DO NOT. More’s the pity.

‘The Swimmers’ is the real life story of a family of three sisters and their loving parents living a relatively happy life in Syria. The ‘swimmers’ are the two older sisters who go to school, have surprise birthday parties with family members, own a pet bird, sneak out to dance and party, get caught by their mother and are chided, you know, the usual family stuff that could happen anywhere in the world.

Something is different here though, there are soldiers everywhere, there is bombing too, off and on and getting more frequent and closer. It is beginning to affect their life and everyone else’s around more and more each day. And yet you hear people being optimistic and believing nothing will really change for them. No, not for them. Oh no siree.

Funnily enough, I have seen the same kind of denial in people to situations we face here, a total disregard for obvious things staring you in the face. They see the changes happening right in front of their eyes, the majority covertly and overtly supporting targeted religious attacks, the moral policing of women, the call for going back to old ways et al, but foolishly continuing to believe that this still means nothing will change, FOR THEM, that life will go on the same way as before, FOR THEM.

They are of course nothing but fools. Things can (and will) change in the blink of an eye. Yes, even for the deniers. What has been unleashed can gather momentum and one day turn into something gargantuan, flattening all to the ground, destroying life as we know now. If one doesn’t want to look back and learn, just looking around at what’s happening in other parts of the world in the present is enough. But then, to understand these things one needs a few brain cells at least. Sorry if that seems unkind, but I don’t have any feelings of kindness to spare for people who don’t have any for those less fortunate to and/or are different from them.

Anyway, back to the movie, the sisters decide, rather the eldest one suggests, and the family sees the sense in it and entrust the pair of them to their cousin’s protection in an attempt to reach Germany. Their journey fraught with danger and risks gives more to think about, especially those like us safely ensconced in our warm homes. The capacity of humans to take advantage of those in a difficult situation never fails to astound me. The risks people are forced to take so that they can have a decent and safe life breaks your heart. When can human dignity be guaranteed? Refugees anywhere are humanity’s shame.

Let me stop right there and not go on about the movie. I want you to watch it if you haven’t, not listen to me babble about it. Besides, if I continue I’d probably not stop anytime soon. And oh by the way, that thing about me addressing Google as Alexa that I mentioned right at the beginning? Yeah, I shouldn’t have left that hanging and gone on to other topics. But then meandering off paths is what I do. Anyways…

Google, methinks, was a bit puzzled, may be even a wee bit hurt, at being addressed as Alexa, but quickly took things in stride and played the movie for me. Now as for the reason why ‘I’ made such a mistake, umm… I was umm… confused. What? You don’t believe me? Anyone would have been if they had been feeling all weak and hazy after a viral fever! I think Google understood and forgave me the slip, the same way I am sure you would, my absence. 😉

© Shail Mohan 2023