Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is a social misfit who leads an extremely routined life between her office and home and nowhere in between. Naive to the ways of the world, she lacks the knack to pretend and speaks exactly what she thinks. This often makes her the topic of gossip in her office, but she doesn’t care. Her life is all good and fine with zero friends or family, except Mummy.

If you pick up this book then keep your favorite stuffed animal or pillow around and also a box of tissues because Honeyman’s characters are so humane, warm, and vulnerable that you would want to pluck them from the pages and hug them and cry. This beautiful story has every possible hue and color of emotion. Eleanor’s story made me laugh and smile. It punched me in my gut and made me bawl and weep. It made me angry, scared, and worried too. And there were times, when just like Eleanor, I was completely fine.

The prose is simple and elegant and peppered with Eleanor’s gallant vocabulary to provide the readers with just the perfect taste of her character. The book is aptly divided into three parts – Good Days, Bad Days, and Better Days and each part is exactly what it is titled. This stands as a fair warning for the part where the writer has dealt with the darker shades of abuse, depression, and dealing with toxic people.

Notwithstanding, the story seamlessly transitions from darkness to shades of positivity and strength and beautifully portrays the importance of kindness, friendships, self-love, and self-esteem in life.

Gail Honeyman has delivered a treasure trove as her debut novel. This is an alleviating and brave story of Eleanor’s struggle to let go of old wounds and insecurities and make space for self-acceptance and friends. Pick EOICF any day. But be ready to be undone and done all over again.

Outrage is the new ‘vogue’

Disclaimer: I am human and I am not perfect. The views expressed herein are just my opinion and I do not mean to impose it on anyone. I respect the fact that everyone has their own point of view and theirs might not necessarily be same as mine.

Last evening, while scrolling through my facebook timeline I came across a video shared by one of my friends. I am pretty sure that by now most of you would have either watched it or heard about it. Yes, I am talking about the Vogue Empower video which features 99 women-of-note from India, featuring a piece written by Kersi Khambatta, recited in the voice of Deepika Padukone and directed by Homi Adajania. If you haven’t watched the video yet, then watch it here.

Since the video went viral, a lot of strong reactions have been stemming from people all over the social media. The reactions are both positive and negative. When I first watched the video I reshared it on my facebook timeline stating “This is powerful”. The video has that effect on women. But looking at the flak that it is getting from people, I feel it has not gone down well with many, women included.

I was not aware of the furor caused by the video until my brother pinged me asking about the video. He said he wanted to watch the video and wanted to know what the hullabaloo is about. He said that the video has created quite a controversy and I replied saying “some people just need some topic to outrage and I don’t find anything controversial in that video.”

When I asked him what he thought about the video, he said that it is bound to offend male ego. He said on one watch it seemed that the video’s sole purpose was to kick men’s ego and boost women’s ego. It was then that I realized that the video will obviously have a different impact on the two sections. It is definitely very strong.

My brother clearly explained me that just because he feels that the video hurts men’s ego, doesn’t mean that he is against women empowerment. As well as I know that guy, I know he is one person, who holds women in high regards and well agrees with the evils that women around the world are being subjected to. We have had long discussions on these issues many times and never once has he come across as someone who is in favor of male dominance.

He went ahead and explained me that, if a person looks at the video as a piece of art, the narration especially, then it will serve the purpose. This got me thinking. I guess the part that hurt the people most was the narration which talks about women being open to sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage etc. which are a taboo in our society. If only people could realize that the piece is more symbolic than literal in nature.

What I understood from the video was that, it is a message to both the men and women in the society. It asks men, not to take the women in their lives for granted. If one listens carefully, it asks men to value the love of the women. It also goes ahead to caution men to not be a fool to think that a woman who comes home early is all virtuous and the one who comes late is not. It also sends a message to women that, no one can really empower them unless they themselves work towards empowering themselves.

But, let us chuck discussing and outraging about this video. Personally I feel it’s frivolous to spend our tempers and time over fancy awareness videos. Yes, Vogue Empower is investing and roping a lot of eminent people for their cause. I am not belying the work that they are doing. But, the main irritant for me is the unnecessary importance that is being given to this video. Why can’t people rather talk about the real actions that are being taken towards the social issue of women empowerment?

Another point that had cropped up through this video factions the society into feminists and menists (fairly a recently coined word). Few people think that being a feminist means bashing men all the time. I don’t know how exactly feminists are supposed to be, but irrationally bashing men is so not feminism. If asked about feminism, I would like to favor the opinion given by Emma Watson as a UN ambassador for #HeForShe campaign. She has aptly put that feminism is not about man-hating but more about achieving gender equality.

I have myself gone through a myriad of changes in opinion while witnessing all the outrage that has been going on out there. At a point of time, I was skeptical to even put up this post as I was not sure whether  what I am trying to say would be taken in the right spirit or not. But then, as I said earlier, everyone has a right to their opinion.

I am now tired of discussing this video. In fact, I never understood the point of outrage in the first place. As I have said earlier, I would rather concentrate on reading, hearing and talking about the real actions that are being taken rather than a publicity campaign. Also, I want to say that, whoever has watched the video are people who are educated and have access to technology. Considering these two facts, I feel I can safely say that all such people are capable of rational thinking. And if the same is true then I guess such enlightened minds can decide what is right for them and what is not.

I don’t think the video is going to alter the cases of adultery or extra-marital affairs in any way. If a person has to get into an extra-marital affair, he or she will get into it irrespective of the fact whether they see the video or not. Moreover, half of the oppressed women for who such campaigns are being run might not even be aware of the video. Do we see the pointlessness of it all now?

There are few questions though, the answers to which I wish I could figure out.

Why the social media junta of our country only pick at the one negative point of any social efforts that are being made for any social cause?

Why the positive always gets shadowed by the negatives?

Why people take so much pleasure in talking about negatives rather than positives of anything for that matter?

I really would like to find out some answers to these.

And just so that I could end my post on a positive note, I will talk about something really heartening that caught my attention more than the vogue empower video. I want to share the story of the village Piplantri in Rajasthan where daughters are celebrated. Here, every time a girl child is born, 111 trees are planted in celebration and taken care of. And that is not all. Read the entire story here, if you want to know more about it. This is what makes me happy. This makes me more hopeful. And mind you, here are people who might not even be aware of the Vogue Empower Video. Let’s take some lesson from them.