WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE HAD THERE BEEN NOTHING ?
Original Title : Eku nothoka hole ki thakil hoi ?
Year : 2023
Language : Assamese
Duration : 7 minutes
Shooting Format : Digital
Genre : Experimental, Documentary
My mother, who survived couple of strokes in a period of 3 years, has a fear of succumbing to amnesia. She fears forgetting all her loved ones. A recurrent nightmare where her husband, daughter, and son disappears and she’s a young girl who’s chased by a mob haunts her. Being a Muslim woman who passionately follows political events, she fears the erasure of several significant movements in the country’s recent history led by women from marginalised communities from the memory of the nation. The film is an attempt to reflect on the intimate relationship between my mother’s fear of her amnesia and the collective amnesia of a nation.
Screenings : 1. Marseille Underground Film and Music Festival, 2023 ( MUFF 5 )
2. Personal Cinema : Mehdi Jahan (A Collection of Films by Mehdi Jahan), Millennium Film Workshop, New York (Curated by Alex Faoro)
3. V Fronteira International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival, Brazil ( Official Selection, 'Cineastas na Fronteira' )
My mother survived two life threatening strokes within a period of three years. She has a condition called General Anxiety Disorder and experiences panic attacks every now and then. Of late, even though she has a very strong memory, she fears succumbing to amnesia and as a result, forgetting her husband, daughter, and son’s faces. She often mumbles incoherently during her panic attacks and later, she tries to recall what she must have thought during these attacks. The tumultuous socio-political situation of India at the moment, owing to a wave of far right sentiments leading to oppression and violence against people from minority communities with an alarming frequency, often triggers my mother’s anxiety. Being a Muslim woman who passionately follows political events, she fears the erasure of several significant movements in the country’s recent history led by women from marginalised communities from the nation's memory. Her train of thoughts remind me of my paternal grandparents' Sufi storytelling style, since they are quite discursive, circular, and fragmentary, but the pace at which she narrates set them apart since it’s very frenetic. It feels like a sudden eruption of thoughts which rupture the spatio-temporal reality of the events, where events from various times and spaces blend into each other in such a way that they seem seamless and discordant at the same time. She recalls her dreams and nightmares, the common theme linking them is the fact that they are all related to major political events in the last few years in India where several significant protests were led by women, such as protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill in Assam and Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, the protests by farmers from Punjab against farm acts that were passed by the parliament of India in September 2020, the protests of women from Manipur against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, etc. In her narration, her personal memories get inadvertently and inevitably intertwined with political events. It feels like looking into a bioscope where images are played randomly but together, they evoke something not only very sensorial but also, political. I wanted this film to be very faithful to what my mother experienced during this recent period of immense distress and allowed the strong sense of loyalty to my mother's narration to guide me towards this film.