Please note the magnificent Anish Kapoor that stands proudly at the most prominent spot in Monte Carlo - right across the casino! My daughter Avantikka remained unimpressed after I kept gushing each time we passed it. She sniffed, "What's so great about it? Circus mirrors perform the same function - they distort reflection!" Oh well.... what do you guys think??
This appeared in The Week last month....
The sad saga of Jaya and George….
Sometimes one wonders about the tricks life plays on unlikely characters. Jaya Jaitley and George Fernandes shared an extraordinary relationship stretching across forty years. They were more than mere ‘party colleagues’ at the Samata Party, and did not hide their special friendship from anyone, family included. It was assumed they had commonalities that went beyond socialist ideology. It was obvious they also shared a deep emotional bond. If people gossiped, it didn’t faze either of them. And so it remained for four decades…. till George Fernandes was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their lives changed overnight. Suddenly, Jaya was declared a persona non-grata by the people around George and denied access to a man she clearly loved… and who loved her. Now, nobody can really question the exact nature or quality of that love… not even Georges’ next-of-kin. Which is why it strikes me as being particularly sad that the Delhi High Court has refused to grant Jaya permission to visit George at his residence. Justice Manmohan Singh’s order states “She is neither a proper nor necessary party to the present suit and she is not in a relation with Mr. George Fernandes as that of the plaintiffs. I am of the considered view that the visiting rights also cannot be granted.” I’m sure Jaya is devastated. And so would George have been had he known about the developments.
One cannot question the wisdom of the learned judge. But in rare cases like this one, it seems particularly pathetic and frustrating, that two people who had devoted their lives to one another and were perceived as the closest confidantes by those who knew them, are not permitted access to each other, even if it is merely to say a final goodbye. No matter what the legalities are in this case (and certainly George’s family knows the minute details surrounding those), it’s still a shame that the woman he spent the major part of his life with ( for better or worse ), cannot be by his side when perhaps, he needs her the most! Why? Because Jaya and George do not possess that vital piece of paper which would legitimize their relationship and give it a name, an ‘official’ status, that society feels comfortable with. And more importantly, the law of the land upholds and recognizes. Jaya and Georges are not alone. There are other high profile ‘friendships’ ( to use a convenient euphemism) that have had to suffer similar indignities. A legendary Bollywood love story comes to mind. According to the grapevine, when a superhero was hospitalized after a serious accident on the sets of a film, his then lady love was not allowed to visit him at the hospital where he hovered between life and death for several months. Something similar was noted about a powerful, pioneering tabloid editor and his attractive ‘associate’ of several years, who was ‘banned’ from visiting her mentor when he suffered a stroke. In most cases, it is family members of these famous patients who start behaving like high security personnel or bodyguards. They suddenly re-discover their long forgotten love and devotion, as they protectively hover around the ailing person. Possessiveness takes on a new meaning as these near-strangers decide who can or can’t visit the seriously sick individual. Often, the subject of the diabolical dog-in-the-manger game is oblivious to these behind-the-scenes machinations. Nobody bothers to ask this one human being what his /her wishes are. It’s all about control and insecurity. Most times it is about money and property. Long lost family members emerge out of the woodwork to make sure nobody can stake a claim to their precious inheritance! When the honorable judge made a reference to ‘sentimental interest’ in Jaya’s case, I suppressed a small smile. I suppose sentiment counts for very little in the eyes of the law. And nobody is prepared to believe that there could be people – women in particular – who are not blood suckers and bounty hunters out to exploit a mentally or physically disabled partner. Who knows what the ramifications of the Jaya-Gerorge case really are? Only the two of them knew and understood the nature of their life together. It is nobody else’s business to pry or pass judgment. One can only hope that the person this affects the most – George Fernandes – is spared further humiliation and mental agony as he struggles to hang on to what remains of his fragile existence. We, as a nation, owe the ‘Giant Killer’ this much.