Sunday, April 28, 2019

Understanding self-deception through “Nayantara’s necklace” (Part-2)

In the previous article titled, “Understanding self-deception through Nayantara’s necklace – Part-1” we looked at a cyclic three-stage process of self-deception. The three stages are (1) Feeling “I am imperfect” (2) Identification of object causing imperfection (3) Striving to acquire the object. The process is deceptive because it creates an illusion that I am progressing towards perfection. Many of us may be trapped in the cycle of self-deception most of our life. Of course, one needs to investigate and find out. Does life offer opportunities to step out of this cyclic trap? Yes, all the time. Let’s go back to the short film “Nayantara’s necklace” directed by Jaydeep Sarkar and see how life created opportunities for Alka (Tilottama Shome) to reflect and step out of self-deception at least for a little while.

Questioning absoluteness:

Alka has dinner with her school friend Girish (Gulshan Devaiah) who is now a CEO. During their conversation, Alka projects the image of a “perfect Alka”. She says she travels abroad two-three times a year, loves five-star hotels and they are planning to visit the US the following year etc. In her image of perfection, these travels, five-star hotels, etc. are absolutely essential. Girish, on the other hand, admits that he feels exactly the opposite. He finds the five-star hotel ambience superficial. In fact, what he likes are mundane things like watching TV at home, sitting with kids who are doing homework, etc. Girish’s job demands that he live in five-star hotels and he does that under these circumstances. However, he doesn’t consider this lifestyle absolutely necessary.

Interactions like these where we meet or read about people for whom what we consider absolutely essential is not so important are not uncommon. And they create opportunities for us to reflect on the absoluteness of our necessities.

Questioning perfection:

When Alka returns home from the dinner, she discovers that Nayantara’s (Konkona Sen Sharma) husband has shot his wife, son and himself. They were in huge debt and bank guys were after them. Alka learns that Nayantara, the person whom Alka idolized, was subjected to physical abuse all the time. Seeing all this, Alka’s image of perfection gets shattered and she returns the borrowed necklace back in Nayantara’s car. Nayantara and her family perhaps at one point could afford a lavish lifestyle. Circumstances had changed. However, the necessities didn’t. Perhaps it created conflict resulting in extreme action.

The image of what is perfect is governed by absolute necessities – be it religious rituals, political ideologies, scientific theories or spiritual states. Once we see that there is nothing which is absolutely necessary, everything becomes context dependent. What then is the meaning of perfection? Every moment the context is different. What is meaningful in one moment could be different from what is meaningful in the previous moment. It demands openness every moment.

To summarize, we are saying that self-deception consists of constant striving towards an image of perfection which is a collection of absolute necessities. The illusion of progress is powerful and deceptive. However, the absoluteness of each of the necessity is questionable. And life creates opportunities all the times for us to question the absoluteness of these necessities. It needs openness to listen and observe.

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