My neighbors cage

Bird cages become terrible things if you think about them. They seem to come from a ancient manors covered in dust and with white drappings over furniture. When empty there’s a soft melancholy that comes with rusted, black bars that might break if you pushed hard. A swing is just more lonely when there isn’t a bird on it.

Putting a bird in won’t makes things much better. I’m not one for heavy handed metaphors but it’s hard to image any contentment coming from anything that could claim the entire sky, being restricted to a tiny cage. It’s damnation. Insanity for birds and condemning man to be a callous and unfeeling thing, amused by petty, pretty suffering. Color the cage with your own horrid indifference, the bird might not have much time for you either.

My neighbors either poets or masters of atrocity have gone a step further. In their grotesque tower that looms over the entire neighborhood they got a cage on the highest floor. Rather than put any birds in their cage, they’ve found themselves a better metaphor- they’ve caged light. In a corner they’ve wasted for a concrete, meaninglessly stylized balcony that no one can reach they’ve put a solitary light bulb that’s lit for no one in particular.

In fact I don’t think anyone would bother to look that far beyond the trees, street lights and other squalor all the way up a rich mans house. Maybe they think it looks good no matter how futile; another ornate holding for us to want. I’m not sure they’d take much notice of it themselves so there it glows, in an uninterrupted darkness. Unseen and meaningless, trapped above us all.

The woman far away

Crimson clouds behind the walls,

Roosting near a crow caws.

Here she weaves her brocade;

The river girl seemed to fade.

Made of gray yarn like the rain

In the lonely room insane.

Hedda Gabler

It isn’t often you enjoy reading about cruel characters who manipulate,cheat and drive people to kill themselves but Henrik Isben pulls it off.

I don’t really read a lot of plays, but Hedda Gabler makes me reconsider my indifference towards them. You’re thrown straight into the thick of the story. Huge revelations, twists and explanations float by, unnoticeable to all but the most observant viewers. To the outsiders in the play, the characters must seem like happy, well off and respectable people. But we the view see gratuitous amounts of dissatisfaction. Unhappy meaningless marriages, deception, affairs, manipulation, jealousy. These aren’t happy, well adjusted characters we’re dealing with.

Hedda Gabler and all the other characters are bound by their past, by their genders, by their failings and try desperately to find a little happiness or at least escape boredom. Hedda despite being cruel, manipulative, exploitative remains a likable character. It feels wrong to call her an anti-hero. There only a few lines about her past, but that’s all you need to know about her struggles to stick to gender norms. She is her fathers’ daughter, Hedda Gabler, and not Hedda Tesman, Tesmans’ wife.

Tesman is a kind soul, an ambitious and dedicated scholar and husband but without great talent. He’s naive, spoilt and oblivious to the many many times he’s been hoodwinked. His rival Lovbog tarnishes his reputation (along with that of his lover) and wastes his talent and Hedda aids his destruction. Thea, restricted to the sidelines, can only watch silently as her life is ruined and her work destroyed.

When boredom, rebellion and independence are no longer an option, death becomes Heddas’ solace. When all the other characters are able to put aside their own frustrations and realize Hedda has shot herself, it is said “People don’t do such things”. Even in death the characters are bound by the need to be respectable  and polite.

A medium length play that might annoy quite a few with its dark, bleak approach and cruel characters, Hedda Gabler manages to be an engrossing look into the minds of people desperately trying to deal with the boring world polite society tries to create.

Poor Rapunzel

Poor Rapunzel locked away in her room, her corner, her gender. Poor, poor Rapunzel. Didn’t she understand it was for her own good? Why are women so blond yaar? We just have their best interests in mind but they never see.

Look at her now. Choking down tears. What’s the point in suppressing tears? She looks so ugly like that. Don’t even get me started on how annoying the muffled sobs of girls are. Why is she ashamed? If she was a boy we wouldn’t have let her cry. If she was a boy all these problems wouldn’t be there. Now who will marry her? She looked like a cow, but now she’s a buffalo.

What is this short hair hungama? Doesn’t she care about her looks? It is not Indian culture. We’ve lost our standing now. All the neighbors have seen. They’ll say look at that girl; they’ll never come to her wedding. She’s marked. She’s almost worthless on the marriage market now. We let her color her hair. We sent her to medical. But still she cut those beautiful locks.

She’s lucky. She doesn’t understand. If this was Pakistan, no? How much more a villager would have done if she’d gone all over the city after with a boy who, god forbid, might be Muslim. So lucky she is. Anywhere else this would call for an honor killing. She’s lucky a beating is all we gave to remind her of her place, to punish her for cutting her hair. Now we’ll have to find a better astrologer. The family will have to sell a few kidneys, but hopefully we’ll find one of these Americanized boys for her. Some of them like short hair.

But we? We are martyrs. So much we have to suffer. This would never happen in my Grandfather’s day. This would never happen in your Great Grandfather’s day. What to do? Kids these days. We should have been smart and kept her at home. One day a prince will take her and make her his long haired prize, just you wait.