‘Life is not meant to be flawless.’ – one of the most beautiful lines by Cecelia Ahern that really spoke to me. To me, Cecelia Ahern has always been an author with depth. Her books, when read on a surface level, seem a little ‘out there’. However, they always come with a deeper and a very direct approach to life.
One of my favourite books remains ‘The Time Of My Life‘ where the concept was that a person with some sadness or issues will receive a request for appointment from their ‘Life’. This Life could be of either gender, of any temperament and of any attitude. As we progress further with the reading, it is clear that the underlying idea is – the more of a mess you are in, your life becomes more unpleasant and ugly. It is basically a physical manifestation of the state your life is in.
We never realize what we are doing with our lives, unless we give a long and hard look at ourselves in the mirror, or picture our life as a third person and see what condition he/she is in. That requires a huge level of objectivity which is very difficult to achieve.
Cecelia Ahern usually writes fiction centered around a female protagonist, and hence covers a lot of important issues that women today need to know, understand and get out of.
Coming back to the quote I started with, her novel ‘Flawed’ again has a very unique concept. It talks about a very judgmental society which brands people as flawed (literally, with a tattoo on various parts of the body) for making errors in judgment. The premise of the novel is that there is a legal system to punish illegal acts, but there is a Guild established in that particular society to punish ‘immoral acts’. As the novel progresses, the line between moral and immoral is thinned, liberties are taken, and humans being humans, rules are twisted for self-gratification.
When we read the novel in this literal sense, most of us will be able to relate to it, as it is easy to see who is going wrong when someone paints a picture for us. But in reality too, if we draw a parallel, the conditions are very close to the actual society we live in. Although our constitution and legal system provide for punishment against illegal acts, we get judged all the time for ‘immoral’ acts and branded as ‘flawed’. However, while doing so, we completely lose focus of the fact that the act of judging someone for our gratification itself is an immoral act. This, in fact, is the true immorality, which the society is unable to see.
For example, in the context of our society, the same people who are scared to have daughters, are the ones who fail to teach values to their sons. We are a society of hypocrites. We have hairy bare-chested men deciding how much skin a girl should/should not expose. The same people who say ‘men will be men’ when they try some stunt on a woman, try to judge a woman for wearing or behaving as she likes (which doesn’t hurt anybody, except their so-called religious sentiments).
Do we even have any values at all? How far apart have we taken cultural values from human values? Why is the threshold at cultural practices rather than someone getting hurt?
Somewhere, knowingly or unknowingly, we are promoting a value system which says it is criminal to be a victim, but not so criminal to be the offender. We are promoting a value system which says you should not leave your valuables lying around. But if you do, it is okay for others to take it.
The more I observe our society, the more I understand why people prefer sons to daughters. Somewhere it is always more convenient to be the offender rather than the victim. I am sure people here think ‘better to have a rapist than a victim’. A rapist still has market value for marriage (after all boys will be boys eh?), but a victim doesn’t (she must have done something to entice the boy!!). We don’t even give women a chance. Despite that, women live, flourish and succeed. And then we call them the weaker section!!!
So if we have to judge someone, let us judge ourselves and our behaviour. Let us focus on our achievements and be wary of our failure in doing justice to others.
So here is a big thanks to Cecelia Ahern for making us think of a society with more women achievers, women as central characters and a society more open to ‘flaws’ of a woman.