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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

18 June 2003

For some, the smile never ceases: No matter what...

We – me and my son Venkat - were watching an old movie –“Life is beautiful” – It was about concentration camps and gas chamber – something all of us have heard, read, seen on movies several times. But every time you see it, you can’t help a chill running down your bones. So it was this time too. And as usual this time too I felt ashamed as human being that such things did happen in this age – where a whole lot of community / people were treated as dirts and were killed like flies. Even today terrorism and war kills people enmass. But Hitler’s way was different. He pulled ordinary folks from ordinary lives and systematically numbered and wiped them away systematically. The silence of the wife when she comes home to see a ransacked house and finds her husband and kid missing, is poignant.

But what struck me was the hero’s positive – the –never-say-die- attitude to life. Guido, the jolly, take-it-easy- guy is bundled along with his toddler son to one of these camps. His wife , an Italian, insists that she be taken too. But they are kept in different camps. Through out the stay, Guido hides the hoary situation from his son and tries his best to convince his son that they have come for a game, that they are actually living in an excellent place. And that at the end of the game whoever score 1000 points will get the first prize – a battle tank. The story revolves around all that he does to communicate to his wife and keep his son in good cheers, building on his lies about winning the game and the tank.

Two scenes touched me. As soon as they arrived at the camp. The kid tells dad, “ I didn’t like the train ride. It was very bad.” Guido immediately passifies, “ Yeah, it was very bad. Don’t worry. We will take the bus back home,” knowing very well, that there is no “Going back” for them. On another occasion, the kid asks dad that he had heard that people were thrown into fire. Guido rushes to explain.” Do you really believe that? I know wood is thrown into fire. But People? You mean you just pull someone and throw into fire? Impossible. Don’t believe them.” and he laughs.

And the final scene when the allies tank really enters and the kid’s eyes pop out in incredible joy. He mounts and takes a “victory” ride. When he sees his mother on the way, he jumps out and rushes to her. As the mother hugs him he tells her with great pride, that the “Game” papa told was really over and they really won the tank. “ We won, we really won.” Little does he realize that papa was shot by the nazis.


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