It was early morning of 3rd December, 2022 when I reached home from Bengaluru Airport on my return from Kashmir. Having slept in the Flybus, sleep has bid me goodbye and a hot cup of coffee fortified my body enough to remain awake for some more time.
I switched on the TV and what do I see? A film titled Life of Pi, a beautiful movie that had an Indian theme and actors including animals, no less a Bengal tiger by name Richard Parker. The film had won many awards, including Oscar.
I had seen this 2012 film twice before in the theatre. I was mesmerised by its visuals and action, paying casual attention to its dialogues. But this time on TV, I listened to what the 16-year-old protagonist of the movie Pi Patel was saying. There were sub-titles too.
Story revolves around a South Indian family that ran a Zoo and for a reason decides to move to Canada with the animals on a Japanese ship. The ship sinks. What caused the ship to sink, the only survivor Pi Patel (the tiger too survived) did not know.
The time Pi Patel spent on the life-boat and the small raft with Richard Parker is the main stay of the film. And herein comes the thought of God for Pi Patel as often as he needed to assure himself of some help coming to save him and Richard Parker. This is because, probably, that Pi was raised in a Hindu family, but at 12 years old, he was introduced to Christianity and then Islam. However, he decides to follow all three religions as he “Just wants to love God.” After all, as some one said, each religion has imprisoned the God it has fancied in the prison called the Religion! However, for Pi Patel only God mattered not the Religion. Wise boy indeed!
The confrontation between Richard Parker, the animal and Pi Patel, the human being was such, the man Pi Patel says, ‘He (Richard Parker) was so bad he brought out the evil in me.’ Yes, when some humans become Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, the other good humans perforce will have to bring out the evil in them to save their lives and survive. That, perhaps is the existential law and also the moral of this monologue by Pi Patel in his relation with Richard Parker. If our country suffer from this kind of a situation? Don’t accept (your situation) blindly. But think religiously. God works in mysterious ways. Despite Pi Patel’s moral code against killing, he compromises and kills fish for food for himself and the tiger for survival. But what if religion is darkness? Find your own light to find out what is there in the darkness. That could be the reason why the Father of Communism Karl Marx called Religion as ‘the Opium of the people.’ Not God, I suppose.
Pi Patel tells Richard Parker, “Welcome to Pi’s Ark”. But what it meant to Pi Patel thereafter? Hell. He sees Lord Krishna in the fish! Food for himself and Richard Parker. ‘Hunger can change everything one believes in.’ I thought of religious conversion as I listened to this dialogue.
One interesting dialogue was ‘we cannot communicate (with Richard Parker) but with God’s grace we can train him.’ Some idea for the law-enforcing authorities, I guess. But ‘above all, do not lose hope.’ ‘Come out Richard Parker. It is beautiful.’ ‘I have lost my family, I lost everything,’ says Pi Patel. Meaning, yet he has not lost hope.
Finally, when things turn bad, Pi Patel says, ‘Thank God. I am ready now to die with Richard Parker.’ God may give him up, but he is not ready to give up God. Rather he thanks God!
‘God gave me time to continue my journey. I do not know what to say,’ Pi Patel says being on the floating island from where he soon reaches Mexico and lands on the solid earth, on the beach where Richard Parker walks out on him (like an ungrateful fellow) without any remorse, without even looking back at Pi Patel for a last goodbye. For Pi Patel his life’s journey continues beginning with the Japanese Insurance officials, the Doubting Thomases, whom, in desperation, he feeds with two stories of his sea journey for them to choose from. Like Pi Patel had choice to choose between Religions but he chose God!
An amazing story of our life, life’s journey with ‘animals’ to live in our midst and yet God’s grace comes to the rescue of good people like Pi Patel, no matter the religion is darkness.
Last Word: If religion is darkness, God is light !
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