Not Your Mothers Movie Review

I am a writer because I also happen to be an insomniac… at least the nights I do not fall asleep at 9 p.m. sharp. Tonight, is not one of those early nights, and I have actually had to pull myself out from under warm blankets to quite the thoughts running through my head. Downloading them in MS Word normally works better than a glass of hot milk or a shower.

My days, however, have been going well. They’ve been marked by some realizations that have had a positive impact. Sunday, March 4, 2007 I’d stepped out for brunch with some activists friends. (We’re calling ourselves American Muslimah Activists (AMA), or so I think.) “I’ll be back in an hour and a half,” I said to Farhat as I left him with the kids. No resistance, no questions. Same scenario at 4:00 p.m. that evening. I wanted to see ‘Blood Diamond’ before it left the cinemas, and needed my movie fix, as well. ( I am a movie junkie.) I knew the children had something to eat for dinner. With a quick good- bye, I left hubby with the kids. With no servant, rare is the day that he and I watch a movie together in the cinema. Squelching my guilt at leaving the kids again, I told myself I needed to seize the moment and actually do what I wanted to do. That bit of advice to myself is precious because I don’t know how to have ‘relaxed’ fun. I write for fun. I am an activist for fun. I email for fun. Plus, I am an expert at making myself miserable thinking of the really ‘fun’ stuff I want to do, without actually making the time or effort to get it done.

As for Blood Diamond…. Well, I went to watch a movie and I came away with new eyes. That $4.50 I spent on the ticket did more for me than a series of sessions with a therapist would do. It left me without even a fraction of a reason to complain about my life. How dare I…, I who have health, food, heat on cold winter nights, peace and security,… how dare I complain? The kind of terror chronicled in “Blood Diamond” is the everyday reality of millions, both in Africa and elsewhere.

Leaving the theatre, I realized how I’d become the person who notices only the black dot on a white piece of paper. I saw clearly, that no matter how good things were getting, my focus was on the one or two things that were less than perfect, and that colored my entire perspective of how my life was. I returned home, actually wishing I was more pleasant and happy like my husband, instead of the high-strung, grump that I am by default. Talk about paradigm shifts.

Finding fault with him and being dissatisfied in general, I saw, had become second nature. This when, MashaAllah, MashaAllah, things have never been better. Yes, he can be the kind to put himself first, but he is also the kind who doesn’t gripe and groan, if his wife wants to leave the kids with him and go to see friends, or a movie. He is also the kind who will do the laundry and take out the garbage. How had I forgotten to value the good things in my life, the good things about my spouse? How I had not seen that it would make me a happier person, if I could begin to truly appreciate all that met my needs in my relationship with him? How had I never, ever seen that it would do me good to learn a thing or two about attitude from him? And I told him as much, much to his shock. I sincerely apologized for being Mrs. Grumpy so regularly, instead of being Mrs. Farhat Ali Khan.

Haranguing the kids, I realized, had become another hobby. Instead of talking to them nicely, and asking of them politely, and punishing them in moderation if they didn’t listen, I nagged, nagged, nagged. That produced no results, leaving me the archetypal bitter, angry woman.

Blood Diamond mirrored many parts of the world, as they exist today. Darfur is not some far off concoction. It’s a living breathing people being made homeless, living in fear. Babies, women, kids, men are killed as a matter of fact, while others die of starvation and diseases, even as I write this minute. Bosnia, wasn’t some piece of fiction. Boys and men were slaughtered by the thousands. Palestine is littered with cluster bombs, just as Afghanistan is a bed of landmines. It’s no secret. “One of the most deadly legacies of the 20th century is the use of landmines in warfare. Anti-personnel landmines continue to have tragic, unintended consequences years after a battle and even the entire war has ended. As time passes, the location of landmines is often forgotten, even by those who planted them. These mines continue to be functional for many decades, causing further damage, injury and death.” Cluster bombs are no different. “These are bombs that contain many little bombs. When they are detonated, the bomblets explode, spraying shrapnel in many directions. The small pieces are not effective against armored personnel but are devastating to civilians. Many of the bomblets do not explode, however, and are left to lay on the ground until someone, often a child, comes along and sets them off accidentally, like landmines, litter the ground with the potential to explode years later. There are said to be thousands in Kosovo.”

These aren’t things that took place thousands of years ago. This is today, yesterday, the day before. How could I have lost perspective, so truly and completely, of the value of focusing on the positive instead of the negative in my life? I, who grew up in India, seeing shanty hunts in the shadows of skyscrapers and beggars at doors of restaurants asking for mere coins when the people inside splurged like there was no tomorrow? I, who see the challenges refugee families face, as the grapple to piece their lives together? How had I allowed myself to turn into an auto-pilot grump when life was so good to me, by God’s grace? Women need at least three daily glasses of milk, or its equivalent in calcium supplements, to keep mood swings at bay. Apparently, I was running way low on my quota.

Well, it’s better late than never and I hope my eyes stay wide open. My heart, too. I hope I will continue to have friends who will tell me to get a reality check, instead of fueling a pity party. I pray, too, for peace. I pray that I can donate to every cause that rallies against war, injustice and the killing of innocents. I pray that every person who is able, does the same whether in words or in monetary support. I pray that every parent can sleep at night, knowing that their children are safe and will have enough to eat.

In scripture, there are verses that speak of us being accountable for our gifts, be it talent, wealth, health….. I have come to see clearly, that we who have been gifted with peace and security, we will be questioned by God, as to how we used those gifts for those who suffered without. Watch ‘Blood Diamond’. You’ll see there is no way we won’t be held accountable, on the day of Judgment, as to what we did with peace and security when the rest of the world was aflame. .