The fence. We all have our fences. We watch others through the security of them. Sometimes it even lets us judge the one`s on the other side. “Vermin”, that is how the teacher who teaches the young boy and his sister in the “The boy in stripped Pyjamas” describes the Jews as.
But you never know with fate. It is known to change. One day you are a prince, the other you are the very same vermin you scoffed at. We can always cross over. That is what happens in the movie. A German boy, befriends a Jew boy in a concentration camp. The German boy, Bruno lives in a house which is near the camp and one day he happens to meet this boy over the fence of the camp. A friendship develops. Bruno, promises Shamol, that he would help him find his dad in the camp, who most probably is dead. Bruno digs the ditch deep enough for him to slide through to the camp. Both kids, really do not understand the true nature and purpose of the camp. Their innocence is not able to grasp the magnitude of it.
The last scene of the movie, is perhaps, exactly how death is experienced by anyone who faces demise through cruelty. The people in the death camps are never told that they are sent there to die. They are all just marched into these camps. When commanded to undress, they tell each other, perhaps it might be for a shower. The feeble reassurance that “do not worry, nothing too bad will happen” does not last long. The fear that something unimaginably horrible is going to happen to them only grips them as the lights are shut out. Their screams however do not silence the death knell. You see the helpless banging of the door, a futile, last attempt to escape. This scene left me numb. No one escapes. But just as the lights go out, we see the two little friends holding on to each other’s hands tightly. By the time Bruno`s mother and dad come to know that thier beloved son has escaped into the cruel world becoming one of the “Jew workers” it is too late. Ironically, the father is the one, who is in charge of the concentration camp.
We all have our moments when someone from the other side of the fence, needs us. I remember this homeless guy, I could not help. I could not sleep for a few days. He was just twenty two. I tried my best to help him, but I could not. But, I know he knew that I cared. What made me care? I just felt, it could have been me in his place. His face still haunts me sometimes. I cared, because, it could have been me in his place. It could have been me born into the circumstances that he did. It could have been me who was not strong enough or faltered. Sometimes it just takes one slip and your life can spiral out of control. Not everyone is strong, some people fail, some people falter.
Strangely enough, the last scene in the movie also made think of me being a vegetarian. Aren`t all slaughter houses, concentration camps? Don`t all living beings, cling to their lives?
Fences. We sit comfortably within them, looking down upon or ignoring the less fortunate on the other side of the fence. But never be too comfortable to feel smug. Fate has its own funny ways. Now I understand why simplicity appeals to me so much. It is closest to your core. You are your very true self in times of tragedy. There is no room for an image, a lie. There is no room for a facade. There is no room for brands. Enjoy all these things, but never get too smug about luxury, your materials, your intelligence, the things that you have. Do not rub them too much into other people`s eyes, so that you can feel superior, enjoying the fact that you can make someone feel envious. Basking in the realization that you have something that not many have. But be just a bit cautious, you never know when you might cross the fence. When you are stripped naked of all of these, you would stand only with your humility. Looking out for kindness not judgement.