Sunday, March 06, 2011

Voices of Victims

While I entered the Clark’s Inn canteen for dinner, a woman of my mother’s age folded her hands with watery eyes and said ‘Thanks’ in colloquial Hindi. I had to struggle to make her understand that I came for that event only as a documentary videographer for a friend. Yet she continued, “Beta, the only thing I know is that you are doing something good. My son’s father is still alive with us.” Thankfully Kurup sir entered the room and she moved to him with the same words. I sat down watching at the struggle her husband had to put in to eat food.

I was in Delhi for two days in February with retired High Court Judge, Justice Narayana Kurup - who banned smoking at public places by law for the very first time - to videograph his speech at an anti-tobacco seminar at Deputy Speaker Hall of Constitution Club Delhi. It was an event titled Voice of Victims organized by two doctors from Tata Memorial Hospital in association with Salaam Bombay Foundation and Voluntary Health Association of India. The event saw cancer victims voicing their concerns against tobacco lobbies to the public, media and politicians.

More than anything else what fascinated me the most was the words of the wives of the male victims. They spoke boldly with their husbands who stood beside them covering their cancer-affected mouth, about their battle for survival. In two of my blogs I talked so passionately about the film 'Yesterday' and the African wife/mother of the same name as of the film who faced life with courage in spite of her illness of AIDs. Hearing each of them was like watching that film again and again; there are still more ‘Yesterdays’ around me that I am yet to discover. The woman who folded hands to me was one among them. There was so much of simplicity and courage that made each of them special. The men who cried standing beside them on the podium were real. Those women were real. I wasn’t seeing any cinema there. They didn’t generate any sympathy towards them, but hummed a new tone of life.

While travelling alone in the flight from Delhi to Chennai I had mixed feelings in my mind. There was immense excitement to see my best buddies from Chennai and to spend some lone nostalgic moments roaming in my most loved city to those good old corners that gave and took memories from me. It was great walking through the corridors of MCC with my twin-soul Swarna and having lunch with her, Deepu and Barath. Chennai changed but not the people. It was nostalgic to recollect the memories of Kanchipuram with Sunder who had a few tears when I left NFSC. He hasn’t changed either. As always, it was equally exciting to hear long intellectual words of Muthu sir and Mohanamma’s long chat about her two sons. I could make all of them smile the same way I used to. That was a success. While leaving I carried a wonderful photography book created by my good friends from NFSC, about the art form Sarikala Chhau. Later at home, I was glad to see my father seeing it with interest. Value of good work!

The next day I walked around searching for Hope Foundation at Medavakkam area to see my baby girl Joshna, but nobody in the locality knew the new location of the AIDs home. It showed the stigma common lot still carry for AIDs infected people. I remembered Joshna’s mother’s words about their struggle of relocation because of people’s behaviour.

I had to leave the search mid-way and return back for my bus to Kerala. What else I have had done.

After two days there was an exciting shoot on anti-tobacco campaign organised by Kurup sir, with the medium of traditional Kerala art form Kadhakali. The same day I had a very promising chat with actor Captain Raju who was so down-to-earth to voluntarily spend time helping me shoot Kathakali visuals.

Life’s journey… continues…

No comments: