CIA : A Review

18 May

A Malayali can speak many tongues – English, Tamil, Hindi.  And a Malayali can speak none of them properly.  At times a word can reveal as much as about a world as an encyclopedia.  The magic of this demands a magical writer such as Borges, in “The Book of Sand”.  The improper tongue of a Malayali tells us about the many journeys she is forced into.

Last week I watched the latest Amal Neerad offer, CIA which, ironically, stands for Comrade In America.  This naughty title is a clever mix of the various motifs of the film – this is the story of a comrade who desperately should reach America and who should beat the most advanced surveillance technologies to it.  The protagonist is a communist party worker and in the first half the movie plays on some of the established images of the party over Malayalam film history, such as the fallen worker who keeps the red flag standing (also seen in Adimakal Udamakal, Janam, Arabikkatha, etc) the taunts in the domestic space which mixes the personal and the political (Sandesham), etc.  While the first half thus plays on a familiar stylistic line with some high voltage Amal Neerad exuberance thrown in to it, it is the narratively weak second half which is more interesting inspite of its shortcomings.

CIA narrates the story of Ajippan, of a Roman Catholic family from Pala in Kerala, a south Indian state.  Ajippan is a hardcore communist and an active member of its student wing who in his moments of inebriation has Marx, Lenin and Che Guevara for company.  Ajippan’s communist enthusiasm is not shared by either of his parents but the latter are fond of their son and overlook the political differences.  The motor of the narrative is Sarah – told in flashback – the Malayali girl from the USA who has come to pursue her undergraduation in the same college as Ajippan. Concerned about their daughter getting married to a to-no-good communist, Sarah’s parents call her back to the US under false pretense.  Ajippan comes to know of this and is soon informed by Sarah that her parents have fixed her marriage against her wishes and the marriage is to take place in a few days.  Ajippan wants to desperately get to the US but is aware that with nothing to show, he will not be granted a visa, and even if he is, it will be too late given the very days he has before Sarah gets married off.  Ajippan is soon informed by his cousin in the US that he could try another, and a very dangerous, route – from Nicaragua, Indians have visa on arrival, to the US, via Mexico, as an illegal immigrant.  Ajippan finds himself with a motley crowd of illegal migrants – a Spanish speaking south American family (we do not know where they are actually from), a Chinese, a Pakistani, a Sri Lankan Tamil, and a Malayali female.  They now have to find their way across the Mexican border, each for their own different reasons. This adventure forms the second half of the movie.

South America is a familiar territory for Kerala as far as movie reception is concerned.  South American movies are a regular fare at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).  But for a few exceptions, like the south American influence in TV Chandran’s movies, and the familiarity with south American national football teams, the region usually draws a blank.  It is in this context, and inspite of many drawbacks including a total blindness to everyday life south of the US, and hardly anything straying away from the highways (the movie plot moves through Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico), that the movie can still be billed as a tiny step towards a new decolonial imagination.

The decolonial project has been pursued with much vigour by south American universities who look forward to concerted intellectual efforts from global south to sidestep unmindful applications of Eurocentric thoughts and building organic response to one’s own locations. One of the objectives of decoloniality has been to establish a dialogue among the global south which will help us imagine a past and a future which does not require the mediation of the global West (what is also called the North Atlantic).  Projects with different temporal and spatial orientations make up this project of global south.  Some of these projects, for example, study the cultures of Indian Ocean imagining (placing it in our consciousness, rather than conjuring) the pasts that seemingly far flung places share with each other.  Thus we have studies of individuals traversing these regions (Sugata Bose), of the literary networks spanning the region (Sheldon Pollock, Ronit Ricci), the diasporic movement in the region (Engseng Ho).  Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land is a brilliant literary bringing together of this Indian ocean past with the contemporary, spanning the region from the Nile to Mangaluru via the Arabian Gulf, revealing our shared pasts and the geopolitical realities we are locked in now, even as we are so far placed from each other through ignorance and prejudices.

The second half of CIA, a road movie, is a conscious placing of Kerala in the context of the global south.  It is definitely not the first movie to do so.  PT Kunju Muhammad’s Garshom (1999), Lal Jose’s Arabikatha (2007), and Kamal’s Gaddama (2011) have done it in the context of Arabian Gulf.  But CIA does this better on three counts.  Firstly, Gulf is associated with low-skilled migration and their harsh living conditions in popular cinema, and it is somewhat commonsensical to make the connection between the working class of different nationalities. The relationship continues to be in the register of class struggle.  The US is on the other hand associated with richness and the managerial class. South America, on the other hand, except in relation to football and occasional mavericks like Hugo Chavez, is an uncharted territory for Kerala.  Secondly, the earlier films established personal connection between nationals of the global south – such as with the Palestinian in Garshom, the Chinese hawker in Arabikatha, the Indonesian housemaid in GaddamaCIA, on the other hand, makes a connection of history and ideas, of movements in historical time we hadn’t really given much thought to – through the images of statues of the Christ, the cross, the graveyards, the communist party office, etc.  Thirdly, CIA does all this very much within “New Generation” fast pace, intercuts and splash of pop art without recourse to the social realist style that characterized the earlier films, the advantage being the novelty of the treatment itself.

CIA takes communism away from the ‘global’ movements of Europe (remember that oft-repeated dialogue from Sandesham: ‘Dare you say a word about Poland’ – ‘Polandine kurichu oraksharam mindaruthu’) and places it on the one hand in the very local – Malayalam-speaking Stalin, Marx, Lenin and Che – and on the other hand with that of South America.  At the same time CIA also plays on the motifs that establish the other connection that ties this region in south India to the south Americas – Catholicism.  One hopes that the cosmopolitanism of below that is at display in movies like CIA gets mapped on to the lived culture within Kerala which is a destination for internal migrations in India.


3 Days of the Condor : a review

14 Mar

The wet streets, the smoke emanating from a corner of the frame in a desolate night, the breath vapour, the cigarette(s) (though the number is quite few) is all there, but if you expect a run-of-the-mill noir from Sydney Pollack’s 3 Days of the Condor, you are about to smash against the windshield.

There are too many small, quaint, and big and bold statements in the movie, it subverts many of the stylistic expectations of the noir, and yet is very much part of that stylistic family.  Consider these following facts: our protagonist here is not a Private detective, not attached to the environs of the street, not a lonesome figure out to rub against the world and doesn’t care about its hard edges – no, he is that sample of the romanticized exquisite good life – a reader of fiction.  And not just that, he works amidst books, and he reads detective stories (ok, so not quite the high taste) from around the world.  If film noir is studied as a stylistic quality which fascinates us with the fascination of watching (Oliver Harris’s [see Citations] example is Robert Siodmak’s 1946 movie The Killers, one can also think of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, or Psycho), the fascination of 3 Days of the Condor, and this is the second definitive distinction, is with reading itself – reading fiction, reading photographs, reading the weather… It was the French New Wave which fed on American noir and spoke of camera stylo.  In 3 Days of the Condor we have a homecoming of a profoundly influential style.  Thirdly, the central question of the movie (and I avoid spoilers) is about the unseen politics of publication itself – the protagonist notices that a very ordinary detective fiction in Spanish published from Venezuela is getting translated to languages which cannot boast of prolific translations – like Arabic and Dutch.  He smells something odd, and soon the cleaners come calling.

The feel of the movie – its slow paced melancholy with occasional bursts of action is still resonant and one cannot help but be reminded of such contemporary (and decent) cold war thrillers like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011, dir. Tomas Alfredson) Syd Field [see Citations] mentions 3 Days of the Condor as “one of the unheralded great movies of the 70s”(p.116), and this is what led me to watch it.  In many ways the movie is a complementary of the other 1975 great: Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon – this is where the personal intersects with the political, and a political order almost receding to the past, while in 3 Days of the Condor we have the world politics barging into the unsuspecting personal life of the protagonist.  And I cannot immediately think of a more prescient movie when it comes to world geo-politics.


Field, Syd. 2005. Screenwriting: Foundations of Screenplay. New York, Delta.

Harris, Oliver. 2003. “Film Noir Fascination: Outside History, but Historically so”, Cinema Journal, 43:1, pp.3-24


The Salesman review

12 Mar

With The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi is back with the stories of the Iranian middleclass, and for the second time he has made waves and dared to breach impenetrable Academy walls.  At the centre of the drama is again another traumatic act of violence, one which the characters should live through; all the more painful because they should also deny it while not being in denial.

Reminiscent of About Elly (2011) not just in the repetition of the lead actor Taraneh Alidoosti but also because of the playfulness and spontaneity that mark the establishing sequences of the film, Farhadi has however turned over from thriller to drama. The Salesman is a deft interweaving of the superbly technicraftive American play, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which the couple Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) are playing parts in, as Willy and Linda.    The dysfunctionality of the family in the play is contrasted with the functionality of a robust middleclass life which comes with the normative elements of semblance of gender neutrality, geographical mobility, and consumerism. As violence finds its way in to the private life of this couple, the dysfunctional family of the play breaks down and the breakdown of middleclass normalcy is signified by the substitution of colours and spaces in the film.

The movie opens with a scene of emergency.  The apartment in which Emad and Rana stayed until then is giving way thanks to the work of heavy machinery outside.  This then requires them to move elsewhere in the city.  This enforced mobility is also a celebrated mobility.  The film opens with indoors but soon moves to spaces that gesture infinite continuity outside the frames.  The city, the set of the play as seen from above, the passageways that denote more rooms on the way in the new flat they occupy, all of these point to a liberation from the confinement of the space which was trembling and soon to be grounded.  This implied infinity of space outside the frame is complemented by the material richness caught in the frame.  The colours of the movie turn lush through the bright red and velvety black of the theatre, the soft tones of the green room, the many cartons, pairs of shoes, clothes, shampoos and lotions, and face mask that linger on the screen declaring to us the irony of an unseen Iran where the bauble trying to pass off as understated is in a hysteric symmetry with the irony of the fully clad woman, Miller’s Miss Francis, having to say that she is improperly dressed thus implying Willy’s infidelity.   Farhadi’s middleclass is a tactile reality even as it plays out its aspirational irony in the theatre.  It is the breach of the personal which bridges the gap between the public and the private in the film.  One by one we see the richness of the screen replaced by steady intensifying affect of frugality.  The infinite space return to the closed ones, those of the parking lots, dilapidated homes, darkened classrooms, etc.

What is remarkable about the film is that it conveys a crucial bind of living out (rather than in) the modern, that the distinction between the private and public is also a distinction between plenitude and scarcity of language in these two spheres.  The crucial drama in the film is about maintaining a knowing private life and a repressed public life.  The ingenuity of Farhadi is not in exploring ever new ways of entering the space of the public but of anguishing over the ways to keep it away.  And the audience is neither the bearer of knowledge nor the one who is kept at tenterhooks, but that very epitome of modernity, the doubting subject.

Klapisch’s Erasmus Children

8 Mar

Last week I attended a workshop on internalization of education at Manipal, organized by Manipal University and funded by the EU and a speaker there quipped, but also wanted to be taken seriously, when he said that one of the lasting contributions of the Erasmus programme to the integration of Europe has been that this programme, which is now thirty years old, has also given rise to one million Erasmus babies, i.e. those babies who were born out of couplings of Erasmus students as they were in the programme.

The moment I heard this serious joke I remembered that I know three of them, two born out of the coupling of Xavier and Wendy, and one between Xavier and Isabelle; but not when they were all sharing, with several interesting others, a flat in Barcelona, but a few years later after both of them had gone through their own individual heartbreaks.

I am speaking about the Spanish Apartment trilogy here, beginning with The Spanish Apartment [L’Auberge Espangole](2002), and followed by Russian Dolls [Les Poupées russes] (2005), and then the final instalment, The Chinese Puzzle [Casse-tête chinois] (2013), all written and directed by Cédric Klapisch.

In the first of the three we have Xavier in pursuit of the edge that would fit him in the world of suits and long corridored offices enrolling himself for an Erasmus programme and travelling to Barcelona.  As we reach the second one, the characters are inordinately long past their fun years.  They were chirpy and energetic once, running, cycling, exploring their way through the bright sunlit streets of Barcelona, even as they waged their small battles over the space in refrigerators, the flat, and in each other’s lives.  As we travel to Russia, the atmosphere is gloomy.  We go there for a wedding, but it’s dank everywhere.  The grey exteriors are matched by the motif of deliberation, hesitation, and of finding grandeur in systematic nature of the dragging everyday rather than the spontaneity, the randomness and the wildness that characterized their lives back in Barcelona.  Many of the characters are missing in this second edition and even those who are there put up a painful sense of having left one phase of life behind.  In other words, ageing.

The third edition, the Chinese Puzzle, seem to say that forties is the new youth.  Once again, Klapisch makes some bold sweep of colours and presents us with a New York yet unseen.  The Chinatown here is not the threatening place of alter-law of the noir days.  The conspiracies here are now are merely the workings of a benevolent coincidence.  The third installment brings back the raw energy of the first, its playfulness – including the playing around with representational modes – is as entertaining, and it recasts the hallucination of Xavier from its gloomy environs to pleasant ones even as they are still driven by the same sense of insecurity he lives through.

If The Spanish Apartment is characterized by crowded interiors and sparse exteriors, the outdoors are jam packed in the New York edition.  And when Xavier gets too lonely indoors, he always has the company of German philosophers.  Had the sequel to The Spanish Apartment come to an end with in the bleak and deserted suburb in Russia, one would have never gotten over the hiraet of returning from a foreign exchange programme where you could feel the world once again in all its sense of wonder, and then look back at it after a few months with the certainty that you will never live those days again, except as some kind of sublimation.  Thanks to the last one, Chinese Puzzle, at least one can age with some sense of life intact.  You know, Hegel is right, and he has explained so simply  – all nothingness is the nothing of something.

after the mango season

7 Aug

As he smelled his fingers again, beyond the many shades of her unwillingness, indecision, acquiescence and regret, he could smell mangoes and summer.

The thought of mangoes brought to him the pain of loss. As summers approached after the season of dandelion, the air smelled of mangoes, first that of the watery ones and then that of the fleshy ones.  The more watery ones, muttikkudiyan, are the ones you tap on the ground, punch a small hole on to it with your teeth, and suck it in, as the juice drips through the corner of your lips, to your checkered oversized shirts, to remain as a stain there, one among the many similar ones of blood and snot and the orange ice candy at Abu’s shop.

The more fleshy ones were always a more communal than individual experience. In the evenings when the sky turned violet, the young ones from the house stood guard, hiding behind the plantain leaves. The children from across the main road came under those violet skies to steal the fleshy mangoes, muvandan, tathamma chundan… He always enjoyed when the fired the first stones on those hapless kids, still in their white shirts and green trousers or skirts waiting all this time after school for the shimmering violet sky to arrive that they could find alibis in the ghosts of children drowned in the nearby pond. Ghosts never fled that neighborhood, but those children, Dineshan, Seinaba, Muthu, Kunjon, Malu, they all did, under the raining stones and calls of animals they detested.

In the afternoons when he and the others gathered around their grandmother as she sliced the mangoes, their fathers and uncles and occasional guests from distant relatives sipped milk tea and discussed politics and intra religious rivalry and the true meaning of Oneness of God and whether or not women can enter mosques and the doctor in the neighboring village who can cure cancer. When only the seeds were left one of them would give an alarm cry. A concerned uncle or aunt or a neighbor who had just come to fetch water from the only non-dried up well responded, “What happened?”

“Please stand guard for this mango seed” the children burst out in laughter, as grandmother chided them for their irreverent behavior.

The mango season was gone for long now. The floods from the sky turned the mango flowers deep brown and then black and dead. The years brought most of all, empathy with those fleeing children, rationality against the drowned ghosts and partition between uncles and aunts and mango plots. Worst, it brought him the stubbles on his chin and the cigarette in his hands.

He tried smelling those fingers again. Beyond the maze of her smiles at the corner of her lips, fear in her eyes and the deep redness on her nose, he could smell the smoke in his own eyes.

one evening, suhra

7 Aug

As she tried swinging herself in her grandfather’s rocking chair, Suhra scattered into hallucinations where her grandfather’s snores from the next room turned themselves into words, and the words into bullock carts and contorted faces; a world which she ever often visited but could barely reconstruct even when the contortions of the real world with its unintelligible language, the unpredictable fists of laughter, rage and numbness and the confusion of ages her uncles succumbed to yearned for a story that she could say to herself. This was Suhra’s own world, and she couldn’t bear it. Everyday she wished for an intruder, for someone to penetrate her secret world, secret not by any jealous intentions but by the cruel coincidence of being torn apart from the rest by a language which was abnormal, not shared.

Her uncles defied the generations by their laughter, by their howls. They scratched on all the wooden surfaces of the house, fought with each other and the invisible enemies, chatted with the djinns, plotted with Satan. They were for Suhra caught in act in their own long monoacts, and each one presented all the moods. They were for Suhra inscribed in every setting sun and every shrieking cricket, in every drop of the fresh rain of every year-tidings of an end and promises of a future but ever caught in roles nullifying each other and themselves. Others say they are mad; and she couldn’t decide if mixing up of ages, places and characters was insanity or just a game that just went too long because her grandfather forgot to terrorise them of the creatures of the night that haunts every child who plays in the courtyard at the dusk.

Bullock carts frequented her hallucinations. There was a bullock cart everywhere in that house- when her uncles would go, in their varied timings, into the crawling years of their childhood; in each coconut that were thrown to the coconut room every time the plucker was benevolent by his presence; when her grandfather, dead except for his snores at the siesta time and his demands for black tea at the waking hours, would then narrate the story of a long journey which was the beginning of it all.

Neighbours avoided visiting that house. The few times she overheard them, “god” punctuated the few sounds that were spoken as frequently as their sighs. But they all did utter “the bullock cart driver”.
“a driver’s luck, what God wishes…”
“the luck to run a long way, God alone the giver of all the good and the bad”
“the driver who travelled a long way”
“Marakkar doesn’t actually deserve so much, …God’s test I tell you.”

She was not out of their conversation either. “God protect her, it’s a girl”
“Heir to a treasure, but what to do, whatever God wishes, happens.” She had heard enough of the treasure already. What intrigued her was its location. It can’t be in this house, she knows every nook and corner of it. She has upturned the hearth, dipped the sandbag in the chimney an extra time each time she had to clean it off its smoke with the hope that a bag –a yellow silk bundle of gold and diamonds-might just be pushed to sight by an extra push. She emptied the overflowing coconut room but all she could find was the snake skin peels. She even made Kanaran dig a few more pits last week in the pretence of planting a few extra plantain. ‘But it’s not the season’ he reasoned, but soon succumbed to the girl’s wish. He too knew of lanes beyond reason’s beat.

But what did she need the treasure for? What will it fetch her which she is in dearth of? No one was going to accept her –the figment of sanity waiting to be flooded by the madness around her, the focus of many a story of djinns and seas and bullock carts, the magic word that evoked piety at the tea stalls and the women-quarters. She was just too painfully sane, realizing all of it by herself. She was beautiful, the bedroom mirror said so; she was sweet, or how else could she be loving the rains; and she was fourteen, and was as good since she was nine.

As she swung herself into the multitude of her hallucinations, she relived the story of the bullock cart. Marakkar’s bullock cart, the trader from Hadramaut, the long journey to the plains, the trader’s daughter, what does her face look like, the fists she got, the healer, the green curtain at the entrance, marriage…
No, the healer, the green curtain at the entrance, fists again, lashes, marriage…
No, fists again, lashes, instructions for immediate wedding, consultation with the cart driver, marriage….
No, consultations, refusal, lure, marriage…
A bullock cart, wheels of gold, piles of gold blocks, a girl, a goldsmith…
Suhra was there, her grandfather Marakkar, he was also a boy.
A long journey to the plains, green plains, yellow plains, the bullock cart, no one to drive, passers by shouting…Suhra was not there. A yellow bag falling off from the cart…
Suhra was the yellow bag…
Shouting, howling…

TEA. That was her grandfather. Suhra jumped up from the chair. It was forbidden to her except for the siesta time when her grandfather would sleep and wait for a dream and she would tread the memories that ever were. “Tea”, the voice was unmistakably louder. As she ran to the kitchen, she noticed there was life behind her. He grandfather, after years of being content with the one window and half a room view his rocking chair offered, was slowly limping his way to the kitchen. “Fronds,” he shouted, “bundle up some fronds fast, make me a torch of it.” His voice was feverish. Casting aside tea plans for the moment, she rolled up a torch immediately, and lighted it by the kerosene lamp at the kitchen sill. Her grandfather grabbed it from her, ran to the tallest coconut tree, pulled himself up to the tip of the coconut tree though the raindrops dragged him down a few times, grabbed the crown of the tree by his left and waved the torch-bearing right violently, “here, here, here”.

And then, he came down, limping than ever, showed signs of fainting, and then signalled to Suhra to be carried to his bed. As she rested him on his bed, he told her in her ears, “I had the dream, they are ready to return it. They are on their way.”

Suhra hasn’t seen her uncles after that. In her hallucinations, her dead mother has taken the place of the trader’s daughter. The yellow bundle was taken by the two Arabs on the way. That evening they dropped in their house to give it back to her. They have been staying there ever since. Grandfather talked to them as if he knew them forever. Two Arabs, dressed in white tunics and chequered lungis. At times she felt they closely resembled her uncles, but they talked in her tongue, and talked of her past.

And Suhra is yet to open the yellow bundle.

The Dreamer

6 Aug

The red cigarette of Isabelle still eluded her. The beret, the blue gown, the chained hands, all looked down upon her with contempt. She had cut each part of that Eva Green poster, pasted it all in isolation, in different parts of the room, all beyond the reach of her hands, as if to remind herself of her own inferiority. Only her eyes could reach them. The cigarette-less Isabelle, with the crack extending from her lips to beyond her face, betrayed the mossy patches she tried to hide behind Isabelle’s feigned anguish and her golden brown hair. Today the contempt and naughtiness Isabelle’s downcast eyes emanated seemed to engulf her, as the elusive blue smoke of her un-ashed cigarette.

She had first fallen in love with that cigarette. Stuck between her lips, the redness was bleeding to plain ash, grunting, moaning through all the joys between her lips. Stuck to them; resolute not to fall off the tender hooks which still breathed life in her. The cigarette always looked away from her, as the glitter of parvenu from shanty existence. It was that unattainability that lured her to be one of its unseen fumes, to be puffed away, after the one deep inhale of reeking pleasure. It was that glamour of aloofness which led her to the mouth which smelled of secrets and forgetfulness and sounded of spring thunders.

If only forgetting was so easy.

On a wet September afternoon when her blue kurta still hugged her from the chillness of the just concluded rain, she felt at one with the glistening road, the fragrant earth, the reddish brown bricks and the shivering leaves, and he sat at a concrete side rail under the giant tree, a cigarette in one hand rested against the rail, while the other slowly scratched an imaginary line out of his face. She remembers that seeing him had at first tormented her, as if she was thrown out of an illusion of familiarity and oneness with the world and being the only one in the world, to an invisibility she couldn’t bear for its insignificance. His eyes were lost to scribbled images within himself, his fingers uncaring of the wet earth. If only he had touched the earth, if only its wetness had got to him, he would have noticed her as she would creep into him through earth’s veins. If only he had touched the earth, she would not have felt the need to conquer him, his sights, his probing touches.

It was still weeks before he first offered her a coffee. The lightning nights of late October reminded her of fury in nature, in herself. The clashes in the heaven, the numerous wings of Mikaaiyl and his army of angels, woke her up each night to flashes of crimson brightness in her abdomen piercing its way up as a band of misery around her forehead. A war demands a vanquisher. And honorable death.

The first time he invited her for a coffee her high pitched chirpiness was drowned in his silence. She spoke of her love for poetry, the turquoise floral print slippers at the nearest mall, the sleep inducing coffee versus the waking up coffee, the latest design on the ten rupee phone recharge coupon, her passion for collecting others’ stick-it notes from their doors… He smoked one cigarette, passed half of another to a friend.

The first time he spoke to her, he spoke something about a war and a book. He spoke to her about the air and fury, and she wanted to hear of the earth and its wetness. He spoke to her something about a thousand flowers; she wanted to hear about the oneness. He spoke of the cures of the future; she was still missing the familiarity of the past. Yet, he spoke very little, and she wanted to hear more.

The red beret on Isabelle jeered at her. If only forgetting was so easy.

The single coffee gave way to double coffee. He spoke about emancipation and body. She was puzzled how her body could be the end of the whole cosmos within her. He spoke of her headscarf, and being generous with shame that the world may drown in its own scriptures. She, of the written words’ life and inevitability. Now he spoke of oneness, she of difference.

On a cold December morning she deemed it unfair that an extra piece of cloth should separate her from millions of colder companions on earth. She felt the urge to be, once again, one with the world and with him within that one shroud of humanity, to dream together of warmer crimson skies. His sight will be hers now, and so will his probing touches.

Isabelle’s chained hand feigned captivity. In this war of sights and smells, the vanquished and vanquisher were just role plays.

And honorable death, an empty signifier.

(inspired by Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers)