Plank in my eye

That morning - I had mixed feelings. I was going to meet Leo for the first time and was excited about it...but was also scared that, in person, I might not like him or worse yet, he might not like me. Our's was a typical 21st century NRI self arranged marriage. In any case, what I want to write about now has little to do with our first meeting [ I will ellaborate on that in another post :-) ]. So without deviating too much, let me get to it. That day one of the things we were talking about, to make ourselves feel less awkward, was recently watched movies. Karthik ( who was kind enough to accompany his friend) did a great job of making us both feel comfortable. And I remember he was the one who brought up the movie "Crash". For those who have not seen this movie, bluntly put, its about racial discrimination and how everyone of us (regardless of our race) are prejudiced and have pre concieved notions of people just based on the color of their skin. Leo and Karthik raved about this movie and I went and watched it the very next day. Needless to say, I loved it. However, it did not touch me or hit a spot in that special way that some movies do. I realized at the time that it was because, although I could understand the interplay of the emotions of the characters in that movie, I could identify with none of them.

A week or so back, there were notices posted on the doors of all the apartments in our complex. It was about a couple of "incidents" in a near by apartment complex - two African American males had stolen some stuff at gun point. Their descriptions were given...and the usual warnings were issued. I really did not think much of it...Untill last night that is. It was about 8.30 PM. Leo and I were in the living room watching "According to Jim" and having our dinner (Tomato biryani), when we heard a loud rap on the door. No one, I repeat, no one has ever knocked on our door at this hour before...well except when we order Pizza of course. I went to wash my hands and looked through the peep hole. The person had already knocked twice by then. I saw a very tall well built African American male - he knocked again and I could sense that he was getting a little impatient by now. Well the next part is what prompted me to write. I did not open the door. I just stood there not able to decide what to do...My brain had not formed a coherent train of thought - it was as if it was an inverse involuntary just would not give my hands the command to open the door. At this point - Leo got up and washed his hands and went in to put on a shirt. The gentleman had knocked almost 5 times now. I literally went and hid inside the bedroom. [Jeez was I overreacting!]Leo finally opened the door and did not hide his annoyance at being interrupted during dinner. I could hear them talking and then heard Leo shut the door. I came out and asked him what all of that was about...what did he want... Leo showed me his keys with a queer expression on his face. Then explained to me that the gentleman was a neighbour and had wanted to let us know that we had left the keys on the door. He was being kind. That was it. You can imagine our embarassment...

I couldn't forget it the whole night. I felt so terrible at having passively insulted the kind neighbour. And now I could feel the powerful message that the movie "Crash" had conveyed. I kept thinking, "well, I have not been a victim of discrimination so far, so I can't really identify myself with the movie".It was like a slap on my face when I realized that I was actually on the other side of the fence last night. This verse is for me: Matthew 7:5 "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"