Closing Argument


I do not have a closing argument. I saw Mulk two weeks ago and I enjoyed it a lot. It was a nuanced and subtle depiction/analysis of the relationship between religion and terrorism and our perception of the same. What I liked most was that it comes across as a soft handed approach to deliver a message. There are no explosive or aggressive tactics to bring forth a powerful message. One of my favorite scenes is the closing argument delivered by Tapsee Pannu in the end. With that argument she ties the entire story together; she talks about the philosophy of ‘them and us’- that is, when we come to identify with a certain faith/ideology/group of people, we create a mental divide between us and rest of the world (them). No matter how fragile she seems at times during the proceedings, it is impressive how beautifully that argument culminates the series of arguments that we see in the second half and how strongly her argument hits home, you know that you’ve seen this ‘them and us’ unfold before, you know that you’ve done this at some point.

I was reminded of ‘The Good Wife‘. I was reminded of all the episodes where the lawyers prepare an approach to defend their client. The proceedings last for days, the approach sees multiple shifts and ultimately it all comes down to that closing argument where the lawyers highlight the strength of their case, challenge the opposing counsel and milk the sympathy of the jury in their favor. You don’t win with a feeble closing argument.

If you look closely, your family arguments have a closing argument too, that final set of words meant to deliver a turbulent blow and suspend the dialogue. However unlike legal dramas, these closing statements may not be coherent, they just have to bear a strong impact to intimidate the other person. In my opinion, there are a set of classic closing arguments, that I always hear in family arguments. No matter what the subject of the argument be, it always ends in:

  • I am going to stop talking to you completely.
  • If you pursue this any further, our relationship will cease to exist for me.
  • I am going to leave this house.
  • I swear I am not going to do xyz – insert subject of the matter- irrespective of how much you coax me.
  • How many years do I have left now.

Like I said earlier they may not be coherent at all but they have a emotional impact and they all emphasize how vehemently one feels for their side of the argument that they did not shy away from articulating these statements (read, threats). It is like check mate because how do you argue against these statements. You might be tempted to repeat the statement thrown at you but you will only lose ground on doing so because there will be no authenticity to what you say and that will only translate to a lack of conviction.

I am not much of an arguer when I am home. It is not that I am not prone to anger but I do not vocalize it rather I bottle it. I find arguments unsettling and investing energy in fighting that is going to unsettle you rather than the opponent is a futile act. Also, I never win. In the few arguments that I have participated in, nobody takes me seriously because (a) I do not relentlessly pursue my case, I give in mid way and (b) I do not have a closing argument to gain an upper hand.

If I consider arguments 1 to 3 listed above, I can never use them. I am too timid to issue such threats because firstly I do not say such things casually out of spite, anger or irritation. People who argue often tend to say such things because they believe their words will have no value as soon as their anger fizzes out. Secondly no one will believe me if I say any of this because they know I am too much of an emotional fool to act on them. They know that I am too weak for detachment and hence they will not be intimidated. Of course I can bluff, I can try feigning sternness when I say these things. But I am not a good at bluffing either, I do not even bluff in a game of bluff. That is how hopeless I am.

I will be a complete failure at argument number 4 also because it is extremely easy to make me do something- send me on a guilt trip. In fact you do not even have to intervene, I will volunteer myself into guilt. Chances are that in the middle of the argument, I might already be feeling guilty for saying something harsh. After that I will start my mental pep talk to arrive at a compromise. It is in fact comical when I say that I am not doing that particular thing while I have already begun working at that thing even before the last word is out of my mouth.

Using argument number 5 is completely out of question because I believe it is manipulative to use aging in your favor. I can never be comfortable using that one. And then I am 25, average life expectancy rate does not make it an effective argument against my parents.

Since I am not a good arguer, I am the spectator and the mediator in my home – the Hermoine to the arguing Harry and Ron. You have to choose a role in the house and I opted (or imagined in my head) to be the mediator. However like I told you before, I find arguments unsettling and the distaste just keeps growing with time. Over the years I have been asked that if I find the mediation to be so exhausting then why do I engage at all, why not give up on it. Even I have been contemplating on the same lines lately, however the answer hit me last night. At the end of an argument, everyone knows where they stand, which door they are headed towards and what are they going to do then. But I know nothing. In the end they will all head in different directions and I will remain sitting where I am. I am scared that if I do not try, will I have anyone or anything left in the name of family at all.

The image has been sourced from Flickr and licensed here.


From where I see it


I watch a movie every Friday with my parents. Well almost every Friday, regardless of what movie it is. This weekly act has earned the stature of a family tradition. Obliging the said tradition, I ended up watching Highway earlier this year. The world, precisely my immediate circle was abuzz with talks about this movie. Yet all I managed to pick up was that it was an Imtiaz Ali movie starring Alia Bhatt. At the end of the day, my WhatsApp status read

Imtiaz Ali needs to see a shrink.

Why was that? Because I hated the movie. A friend who was anxious to watch the movie picked up a casual argument with me over my status. Not wanting to reveal the plot to her, I simply told her that I did not enjoy the movie and hence the status. However she did not give up. It was the next day, the day after that, the one after that but she did not quit her relentless pursuit to make me change my opinion. Her family had watched the movie, they loved it. A couple of her friends termed it philosophical. She just wanted me to say that I was wrong.

Then came Wednesday, we were in an Investment Management lecture when she told me that her friend loved Highway. This friend went ahead to say that the only reason that I disliked the movie could be that I am stupid and it was beyond my mental facilities to understand the nuances in the movie. I had disbelief painted all over my face. Here is a person who hasn’t even watched the movie trying to convince me of its brilliance. And another person who has never even met me commenting on my intellect. Ignoring her remarks I smiled and looked away. I started reading a book on my phone. A while later she snatched my phone from me because she was getting bored. She told me that I was being selfish in ignoring her and our other friend. That I should initiate a conversation that involves all three of us. That I cannot be right about everything every time. Right then, I cried. I cried for two hours. I sat through an English lecture where people were having a heated discussion on ‘IPL and its impact on Indian Cricket’ and I simply cried. The strange thing is that she didn’t even notice me crying.

I will tell you what happened. It was the beginning of things going wrong in my life. I had suffered a grave loss, I went horribly wrong with an essential interview, my finances were going upside down and even my loyal calculator had begun to fail me. When I was called stupid, it validated my worst doubts. Because that was how I was feeling then, ‘Stupid’. The moment I was called selfish, I felt betrayed. I had spent twenty days bottling up all of my emotions because I did not want my sadness to permeate into anybody’s life. I did not want my rage to hurt someone. I was putting forward a strong front. The least that I expected from a friend was to not belittle my efforts.

To me, Highway was a half baked attempt at depicting the emancipation of a young woman. Imtiaz Ali’s female characters are cosetted young women who are restrained by familial expectations, always seeking an opportunity to elope and begin a new life. Yet either they are half witted or half willed to execute an escape. In Highway the protagonist is kidnapped, thus being presented with the sought after escape that she sub consciously longed for. She is gradually drawn to her abductor who drags her, beats her and keeps her under bondage. May be it was the Stockholm Syndrome, even then I had difficulty in accepting her affection. In the end when she steps out of her house in a chauffeur driven car to run a fruit processing plant, a venture financed by her father, I do not see that as liberation.

This is my humble opinion. You ought to have yours, probably different than mine. But that is the beauty of them, opinions are subjective. They are not right or wrong. From your vantage point, the world assumes a color and from mine it assumes another. Is it a reason enough to place ourselves at a conflict?

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To Humble Beginnings

Daily Prompt: Origin Story.

Why did you start your blog? Is that still why you blog, or has your site gone in a different direction than you’d planned?


Daily Prompt: Origin Story

What do you do, when you have this teeny-weeny iconoclastic streak within you, that is you have questions which you have resisted yourself from raising, sometimes because of social protocol or because parents aren’t really fond of unconventional kids, are they?

If you sit down and tell your` parents, ‘Listen, what is the rationale of getting married, leaving my family behind to embrace someone else’s?, they are going to think that their otherwise pragmatic daughter has perhaps gone nuts.

What do you do, when you are madly obsessed with anything fiction?

The days when you are devoutly following Dexter and Revenge and you jump off you couch cheering, ‘Go Amanda’ or ‘Yay Dexter’, people meet you with cold glances, doubting you for a sociopath in making.

And the time, when you fret over Peter’s arrest in White Collar, you don’t get a there-there, all you get in response is, ‘What baffles me is that even after all these years, you still can’t distinguish between fiction and reality.’

When you catch an early show of a movie, you don’t have anybody to discuss it with unless you want people to scream ‘Spoiler Alert’ when they see you.

The day when you google something and you do not get worthwhile results because no one on the world wide web shares the same sentiments about the thing as you do let alone consider it’s worth googling.

What I did was, one evening, I sat down in front of the computer and made a blog on WordPress to showcase my pursuits and experiences (as the header, the Gravatar profile, the About page and the links to blogging portals say).

So, did Expressions come into being so easily and promptly?  The answer is, no. I have thought about having a blog for four years now, but I never made one.

You see, I have never done anything extra ordinary as well as extra curricular in my life. What I have simply done, is cramming up textbooks, understanding concepts, putting them down on an answer sheet and scoring straight A’s. And what I suffer from, is the low esteem syndrome, something which makes me perfect to play the protagonist in a romantic comedy (Here, I just made a mental wink to God, that maybe it is time for you to take cue and throw a Dylan Singh Shekhawat at me). I always was too conscious to break a leg, too cacaphonic for being a nightingale and too fragile/delicate for sports. But I could always write reasonably well. Sadly, when I saw budding J.K. Rowlings around me, I wondered who would sit down and read the jibber-jabber of an amateur writer.

I am a very quiet person but a very observant girl. So over the years what I had become, was a cannon ball of information dying to explode. Blog seemed to be an apt platform for all the bottled up emotions and thoughts and thus on the evening of June 8th, 2013, I reflected over my long summer vacation to do list and point no.4 caught my eye, ‘Palak you  have to make a blog, you won’t score well in your exams if you postpone this any further’ and thus being the fearful person that I am, I created a blog.

What I did not foresee then, was that, writing a blog post is going to be the highlight of my day. I anxiously wait for the daily prompt everyday, work out a way to write down something worth reading, sometimes making use of the third person or sometimes poetically capturing the essence of the challenge. Expressions has reminded me of my love for writing and of course given me a talent to boast about in my curriculum vitae.