Journeys are eventful – whether they cap a bout of tedium or open the vistas to serenity, they make their presence felt. And sometimes, they do both.
On a recent long-haul flight, I did what most people on such flights do – watch movies. But I also watched what most people on this flight didn’t – “The Preparation”.
The Preparation is a South Korean movie, released during 2017, and tells the story of a mother and her son. Ae-soon runs a small shop in the city; it is no posh delicatessen and gives her meagre to average income. But her astute handling of the money and indomitable spirit to live keeps her and her 30-year old, intellectually disabled son, In-gyu, afloat.
In-gyu is a grown-up and tentative child who doesn’t understand anything beyond sleep, food and play, and attacks people randomly in an act of proactive defense. Despite receiving frequent flak from his mother, he doesn’t change his ways except for the times when his glutton tummy makes a demand and he succumbs to his mother’s instructions to answer its call.
On this humdrum wave, sails along this family of two quietly until a day arrives with a dreadful news: Ae-soon is diagnosed with a terminal illness. She doesn’t have more than 6 months, 1 year for the excessively optimistic.
‘What shall happen to In-gyu after I am gone?’ – This is the first, and the only thought that besieges her immediately and doesn’t let go. With every knock for admission at special schools, government establishments and family homes turning futile, the noose of worry and fear tightens around her neck and her nights merge with days of helplessness.
When every exterior source of assistance gets wiped off, she takes it upon herself to train her son to stand on his feet and live independently.
But does she succeed? And does he stand up?
Well, they did for me. Because I shed silent but copious tears at her steely resolve but closing eyes. Because I puffed a hurrah at his small victories and clutched my heart at his every fumble. Because I couldn’t bear the thought of death coming between a mother and her child, especially a child who defines death as a trip to heaven for a short party with good food. Because I tapped the display screen inadvertently to wipe her tears and hold his hand. Because I took a look at my mom sitting next to me and uttered a prayer for her presence in my life.
Because Go Doo-shim and Kim Sung-kyun breathe such poignant breath into their characters that life reflects in their demeanors, bringing me closer to mine. There is no sentimentality, no excess, no varnish. What there are instead are pragmatism, intuition and versatility.
“The Preparation” came and hit me like an unexpected wave, knocking me soft and leaving me with gratefulness. Watch it. It might take you on a journey of gratefulness too, and much more.
[Images courtesy koreaboo.com, izlesene.com, 2tin.net]