Pain

self_portrait_2.jpg

‘Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird’ 1940 (oil on canvas)

It was the first year of undergraduate studies and I remember Slam Books were very popular at that time. I had mine since the end of school days and only a couple of pages were left to be filled. There was a long list of boys who wanted to fill my Slam Book, but I wanted to learn only from two of them. To answer one of the questions, when asked to describe me, one of them wrote, “a beautiful girl who does not smile as much as she should…” I probably did not know then that it was true.

I first came to know about Frida Kahlo‘s self-portrait in the Bengali movie Antaheen (2009). I did not watch the movie when it was released but I watched it much later. When they showed the painting in the movie, it looked surrealistic. Her face had a somber expression, she was surrounded by a monkey, a cat, and a hummingbird and wore a necklace of thorns. with blood dripping from it. I was very intrigued. Being a huge movie buff since childhood, I remembered that the movie Frida (2002) was nominated for a number of Academy Awards – I have a special place for Salma Hayek and maybe that is why I remembered it. I immediately researched about Frida Kahlo and found her other paintings.

When I looked at them, I was taken aback and frankly, very shocked. Her portrayal of herself seemed violent and sometimes, just looking at the paintings was painful. Since childhood I have been very intrigued by the human condition. I remember when I went to Belur Math, as a child, instead of being mesmerized by the beauty and calmness of the place, I was fascinated with the young monks who lived there. For months I could not stop thinking what led young adults to leave their homes, every contact with their family and choose a life like that. But over the years, often the inquisitiveness would turn into sadness and since I knew I would be sad I tried to push these thoughts to the black corner of my mind and forget about it. That is what I did in case of Frida. I closed the images, and suppressed my inquisitiveness. Maybe I was scared that if I went digging in I will discover something that I did not want to know about.

Many years passed and in 2013 I visited MoMA in New York city. MoMA was fascinating to me, I will write a whole another post about how much I felt inspired after I visited MoMA if I ever get that much time. There, once again, I came across works by Frida which were not as violent as the ones I had seen on the internet before. I was curious and wanted to watch the movie Frida, but when I watched the trailer I decided to watch it later and then I kept postponing it, because I was not sure I will like it.

In 2014 December my friend visited La Casa Azul in Mexico City. When he came back he brought with him tons of photos of the place, specially the kitchen and he told me that I would have loved that place. I kept looking at the photos and kept wondering why would I have loved the place and if really I would. In architecture I prefer very modern clean lines, simplistic furniture, light colors and bright open spaces. This place looked quite the opposite. It was loud and rustic and the kitchen tools looked like art, not really useful. But it was fascinating. Every corner of the house looked like the person who lived there had paid special attention to it. I have not been to the museum myself so I am not sure if the Mexican authorities kept it as Frida (or may be Diego) had left it. But I like to think it is.

I started reading about Frida and what her work represented. Why did she portray herself in such violent details? What did they signify? I came to know about her accident, her chronic pain, her political activism and her tormented relationship with Diego Rivera. A few months later I watched the movie Frida, which depicts the professional and private life of Frida Kahlo. It stars Salma Hayek in her Academy Award-nominated portrayal as Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, Diego Rivera. If you have not watched it yet, I highly recommend it. Salma Hayek‘s portrayal of Frida Kahlo is poignant. I loved the cinematography – throughout the film, a scene starts as a painting, then slowly dissolves into a live-action scene with actors. I was moved when I watched the movie. When I watched the movie I had already read so much about her, so I was not expecting to be overwhelmed like that.

There are many good movies that you watch and forget. There are good movies that you watch and remember. And there are good movies that influence you. Frankly it was not the movie itself, but watching this movies was like the amalgamation of all the information I had collected about Kahlo. This movie stayed with me. Even though many good things happened in 2015, it was the saddest year of my life. In my experience when you are sad for a long long time, that sadness becomes something physical, like a pain. Like a pain through your spine, like a lump in your throat, like a migraine that no medicine can cure. In no capacity I am comparing my pain with that of Frida’s but as the year progressed, I started to identify with her more and more. I have wanted to write a blog about the movie or Frida Kahlo for a long time. But it seemed a daunting topic. But in the past few months I found myself going back to her work, specially her self-portraits again and again. I have never been that girl who uses others’ pictures as her profile photo or borrows fancy quotes to describe her feelings- because I always felt that was very pretentious. But somehow, I feel that I can identify with Frida.

In case of Frida, the more I learned about her life, the more I started to appreciate her work. Initially I thought her work was grotesque and violent. But now I feel that there was a lot of passion and depth in her paintings. In her works, some people notice only her uni-brow and moustache, some people see only pain, but I see irony and humor along with the pain that she felt. I think what draws me to her is that she was a fighter. Many incidents in her life could have diminished her spirit, like the crippling accident, the health issues, or Diego’s infidelities. But she was not crushed by anything. She reminds me that: Pain… is strength.

All photos are sourced from Google.

I envy Heath Ledger

photo

I am running on a strange clock. When people ask me when I got this bug, if I was traveling and got jet lagged then I laugh inside. I reply ‘No, may be I just stayed up late one night and from there… ‘. But deep down they know me, they know how disorganized I am and that is not something I am proud of…

So one weekday night I suddenly planned to get back into schedule. I went to sleep early hoping I will get up early, best at 7:00am, and start living life like a regular person. But fate had different plans… there was a thunderstorm at night (being in Nebraska that’s not uncommon) and the sound woke me up at 3:00am (how rare is that… I pride myself on being the heaviest sleeper in the world, a fact that my friends and family will be more than happy to confirm).

So unlike my nature, I woke up at 3:00 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I thought about working or reading a book… but my darling MacBook Air was right next to me.., and I try to use it at every opportunity I get. So I went to, where else, YouTube. I browsed through a few of my subscribed channels and finally decided to watch a movie. Recently single and thoroughly disappointed with the men of my race, I have been considering interracial dating and this movie ‘Blind Dating’ attracted me naturally. Don’t watch it… no matter how cute Chris Pine looks ignore that movie… even though it’s available for free on YouTube, please save your sanity and a few minutes of your time… So yeah, it was unwatchable and still I was not sleepy. So what else was available for free? One of them was ’10 Things I hate about You’. Now I had heard good things about the movie from many people. But who watches a teenage chick flick which takes place in high school? Also I hate to admit it but I never liked Heath Ledger much. Specially since he died due to drug overdose. Although I admire his acting skills and all, and ‘The Dark Knight’ is one of my favorite movies of all times, but I have always been a supporter of the underdog – just because he was already so popular made me cringe. Also I always thought his death gave him unfair publicity. Anyways, at 4:00am in the morning it’s better to watch a teenage movie that you have heard good reviews about than watch something like Blind Dating once again. So I relented. Oh and what a movie it was! I mean it takes place in a high school! It’s based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew!! Who would have thought this movie will have two totally strong and individualistic characters?! I loved the movie. You see, it was all a conspiracy, I had to go to sleep early, there had to be a thunderstorm, I had to wake up at 3:00am, go through the torturous Blind Dating, and I had to watch this movie and fall deeply in love with the movie, with the characters (Kat & Pat). I am not very proud to admit it (I’m on the other side of 25 and I should be busy completing my Master’s thesis right now) but I have watched the movie 2 more times since then….

I’m also doing this #100happydays thing on Instagram where you find out one thing you were really happy about that day, and of course the character of Pat and the hopes of finding one like him in real life made me really happy. So again, unlike my character I posted a photo of him from that movie on my Instagram. I would never do that unless it was the #100happydays stuff and guess what… I got 10 more followers and crossed 100 followers on Instagram and that photo of him is the most liked photo of all times on my Instagram (makes me kind of irritated that a simple Google search and stolen pic can do that when no one notices when I spend hours trying to capture good photos to post there). But that’s beside the point… It’s more deep or weird or childish (as you prefer to call it)..

Since I was very young I have always been obsessed with dying young… and dying violently… I want to die in a car crash… a violent car crash and not die immediately… anyways, that’s kind of morbid. I always wanted that and frankly I still do… Let alone anybody else, I myself never understood my obsession. It was never about dying young solely, because I also fancy getting a terminal disease. I mean no disrespect to anyone who is suffering or someone who lost a dear one. I feel if I know that my time on earth is limited I will be able to live my life more fully. But that is stuff for a different post.

Now the problem is I envy Heath Ledger. To know his popularity you just need to go on Instagram and look at how many profiles are there on his name, where people post only his photos time and again, again and again. I mean you can always do a Google search and be overwhelmed, or you can just turn your head and ask the person sitting right next to you what they think about Heath Ledger. I mean ask the next stranger on the road now, and I kind of know what you’ll hear – something on the lines of ‘What a talent wasted for eternity!’.

His youth, his talent captured in time… he will always be good-looking, he will always be talented… he will never grow old, never lose all his hair…. never wear a hideous piece of clothing again or commit a fashion faux pas.. He will never abuse paparazzi again or behave badly with someone.. more importantly, he will never act in a bad movie again, or even give a poor performance in a good movie, his talent will never die… He will always be young and beautiful and talented… People will always mourn his loss from this world.. and he will be forever etched positively in our memory… I’m jealous!

P.S. It is meant as a light-hearted comic post. Please don’t take it seriously. No disrespect to anybody intended.