A reluctant Tamil interpreter fed up of her fight against the situation facing Asylum seekers in Australia is ready to walk away from it all when she drawn into the world of Selvi, a victim ... Read allA reluctant Tamil interpreter fed up of her fight against the situation facing Asylum seekers in Australia is ready to walk away from it all when she drawn into the world of Selvi, a victim of war. Touch is a bilingual "Tamil and English" Australian Short Film written and directe... Read allA reluctant Tamil interpreter fed up of her fight against the situation facing Asylum seekers in Australia is ready to walk away from it all when she drawn into the world of Selvi, a victim of war. Touch is a bilingual "Tamil and English" Australian Short Film written and directed by Ghirija Jayarraj . The story explores the plight of Asylum seekers in Australia and m... Read all
But, of course, violence is real. One cannot not see violence. It is something we must see and acknowledge. And it is something we must address. In many nations we see one group of people or more singled out for an extra dose of violence: African-Americans in the US; the Uyghurs in China; low-caste Hindus in India, and now increasingly Muslims as well. It's important to see this violence and it's important to speak out against it because, as Martin Luther King said so very well: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
For our own sake, for our children's, even if for no higher altruistic reason, we must see violence and recognize and condemn it. I twice abandoned "Touch" anticipating having to face up to violence. The third time I did watch through.
There is the violence that nation states quietly and routinely subject their own to for the sake of economic and political gains that accrue to political overlords, and to those who fund the political overlords for their own selfish interests. There is also transnational violence that drives entire industries and economies. We know that Julius Caesar went to war in 80 BCE because he were deep in debt and had to do something to avoid the debtors' prison. So he went forth to loot and plunder and capture people to sell as slaves. Today American presidents cook up excuses to fuel perpetual wars around the world to keep a lot of US industry working and a number of its people employed.
The victims of the violence that our governments visit, whether upon their own people or upon people in some other land, that violence ravages the lives of many. Many who are not silenced, not killed, must flee, and it behooves us all, all across the world, to provide sanctuary to people so traumatized and uprooted.
"Life is mostly froth and bubble Two things stand like stone Kindness in another's trouble Courage in your own" (Adam Lindsay Gordon)
Produced by Ghirija and Gopi Jayarraj, siblings, "Touch" is a movie about a refugee, Salvi, who flees Sri Lanka for Australia. It is by way of being a supplication to us to look kindly upon people who have suffered, people ravaged and brutalized, people who have had to flee. The movie tells us again, like Shakespeare once did that
"The quality of mercy is not strained It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath It is twice blest It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
"Touch" is also a testament to the kindness of strangers. What does it help for Nicole to massage Salvi? It did not strike me first as something that would be any use at all. It took me a while to realize that the act of touching someone really is the core of this movie as it is also the core of our lives. There is no better way to show our love, our belongingness, our caring, our compassion than by how we physically touch another person.
Those people we abhor, those are the ones who become untouchable to us. The exclusion of shudras in India, the separate toilets and water-fountains of old for Whites and Coloreds in the US: the withdrawal of contact is everywhere a symptom of hate and intolerance.
It is a mother's touch, on the other hand, that gives us our lives. It is a lover's touch that gives us some of our greatest pleasures. So yes, I understand now why it is important that Nicole should offer Salvi a massage. I understand why Ghirija and Gopi call their movie "Touch".
Give it the twenty-seven minutes it asks of your time, and you will find it a benediction of sorts. Ghirija and her family had to flee Sri Lanka or die when Ghirija were but two years old. Today she is a Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancer, a movie producer, an artist of great sensitivity, and she is all that that because her family found sanctuary, first in India, then in Australia.
And it is true I think that people who lose everything sometime in their lives, if they survive, they have a great deal to give all the rest of us who have not had to pass that trial by fire they worked their way through.
- Oct 7, 2019