I found the time to go watch Maleficent. I don’t regret it. The film could have used a tighter plot, but it was worth going for the sheer screen presence of Jolie.
I thought a great deal before writing this post. I was wondering about it was ill-advised to speak freely so. I rarely do. I have become remarkably adept at couching life in stories that carefully filter the living out. I think this is important enough to write plainly about. So I’ll make an exception.
Young Maleficent falls in love with a boy who strays into her woods. He gives her on her 16th birthday a true love’s kiss. I don’t remember if I was kissed on my 16th birthday. I do remember the first kiss though, and I am lucky enough to have faith in love because of the first experience.
Watching Maleficent reminded me of several episodes in my life, some pleasing and some tragic.
I remember a man who embodied most of the vices King Stephan had. He resented most good things and he had resented them fiercely in me. We first spoke of communism, and then robotics, and then academia, and then literature. We had much in common, hadn’t we? I was quite taken with him – he seemed freshly different from most Indian men I had the misfortune of attracting until then. The communism, the robotics, the academia and the literature were enough, I thought. He couldn’t stick to his stand on anything. He was quite vocal in calling me out as bold or brave or other things and had told me on more than one occasion that those attributes were wrong. He had done his best to drive home the point that a family as an unit would only work if the woman was subservient to the man and was willing to sacrifice her career for that. His view of sexuality was alien to me. He considered sex a tool in games of one-upmanship. It was a view I could not fathom at all. I have many faults but sexuality is one area that I have a better grasp of than most men and women, thanks to my early experiences all of which were sweet and wholesome, and thanks to my intuitive understanding of it on an emotional level. So there was this man who embodied all the vices Disney’s Stephan had, but had his share of virtues and a brain quite enchanting. Marcel called me nine kinds of a fool. Fools in lust or love are rarely willing to listen to good advice. I was no exception.
The scene where Maleficent wakes up without her wings, where we are shown her grief at what was done to her, is one of the more powerful depictions of loss that I have seen on celluloid. Having never had wings, and having never had wings stolen from me, I cannot say that I have felt exactly the same. However, in the summer of 2012, after I had left Atlanta disillusioned and heartsick following an episode I have no wish to recount here but which ended up with me waking up on the morning of the solar eclipse in May 2012 to see the consequences of the lies and the manipulation wielded by the man I should have never trusted enough to let come so close, I suffered two personal losses, one of death and one of harm, after which I believe I outrank most my age in terms of life experiences had. I had left Atlanta heartsick and betrayed. I returned three months later with that being the least of my concern, after my summer of losses. Yet, it was not without consequence.
“Why?” I had asked, shocked and disbelieving, for I did not know that someone could be so lacking in the most basic tenets of honesty or honour in the immediate aftermath of intimacy.
“You are a brave girl. You’ll cope,” he had told me, and smiled.
It is a horrific thing to undergo. I strongly recommend that others stay away from such messes.
It would have dictated the rest of my life for a long time, and he would have taken pleasure in that. I was lucky. I had known true love’s kiss before, under the rainclouds of Kerala. I had known what it was to be a man’s muse in lines of charcoal on canvas. I came to knew a man who had his crosses to bear and bore them gracefully, and yet found in himself heart enough to care for another and time enough to play Skyrim. I came to knew Sibelius, and learned to laugh again under the fall awning of Emory, and learned to take delight in the little joys of living again on the sprawling lawns of his family home. I returned in the December of 2012 to the hyacinth, and in 2013 I met Yoda. I can scarcely complain about my lot in life. It has been a deucedly bright one so far.
I am grateful for the love I’ve been given freely in my life. It doesn’t change the fact that I still hold deep in me a sense of regret, hurt and hatred for what that man tried to wreak upon me. He tried to break me, to take the ‘boldness’ and the ‘bravery’ and the ‘forthrightness’ and a hundred other things that he hated seeing in me. He hated that sexuality was a mess for him emotionally. He hated more that it was easy for me to understand since I harbored about it no negative or shameful associations. He hated that I inspired affection in other men quickly and tried to cheapen it explaining it away any way he could. He hated that I didn’t tell him ‘everything’ about my writing and writing contracts. Such resentment and such deliberation in malice does not come without consequences. He did the most he could to drive it home how much he hated it all, and he reveled in the consequences he had wreaked. (“You are a brave girl. You’ll cope.”)
There is the scene in Maleficent where she says that she likes Stephan begging. She does mean it. I remember that. I had liked it, later, after a few months, when the tables were turned, and he had more to lose than I had, when I had returned stronger after a hyacinth’s grace, when he begged. I savored it deeply. I still do.
In the end, it is not his actions or malice that unsettles me. It is that I had been naive and foolish enough to think that nobody could hide malice well enough in words and touches. We are all good actors and liars, but some are better at both than the rest.
I was happy for Maleficent, when she kisses Aurora and the girl wakes up, when she believes again in true love’s kiss. It does exist. I am grateful everyday, since I was thirteen or so, for being able to live secure in the knowledge that it exists.
I am happy that she got her wings back.
Marcel told me that I’d be all right and that he would be around to tell me ‘I told you so’ in a couple of years. He was right about the first. I wish he had been right about the second.
Perhaps, one day, I’ll have lived enough to forget that there was someone in my life who held vices we are shown in Disney characters, and that I was foolish enough to have overlooked them for the virtues that were plastered over them. I’d like to stop feeling that sharp pain of the past each time I see similar situations play out in life or on celluloid or on the pages of a book. It is fleeting, given that I have better matters to lavish my thoughts, memory and emotions upon, but even the sliver of a moment when I remember makes it unforgivable.
I’d like to forget.
Until then, I’ll nurse well the lesson I was taught – most men and women are confused about many things in life. They have no idea what they want, and when they see someone who has a clearer head or heart, they will hate, resent and covet the person all at once, and if they get the chance, they’ll drag the person down into the pit of confusion where they live out their lives.
TL; DR. Go see Maleficent. Jolie is a feast. The cheekbones, the wings and the horns suit the woman.