Max is drawing as Paul comes into his room. Apparently he is sick. Paul takes a piece of paper from Max’s room, opens it in the kitchen and sees a somewhat disturbing drawing of a huge bird (eagle?) looming over buildings.
Sunil brings Paul tea. Paul gives him the photo he left. Sunil asks if he is familiar with “Survivor” and when he says no, he describes it. Sunil is astounded by the show — that participants are willing to compromise all of their values for $1 million. Paul asks if he is concerned that the show will taint his own dignity because he watched? Asks if he plans to watch again and Sunil tells him the time it is on. Paul comments on Sunil’s animation as he talked about it.
Sunil tells Paul he would be pleased with him because he is trying to be different. Trying to express his frustration. Two nights ago, Julia was in her exercise room and he couldn’t read because of noise of her music. He went to ask her to turn it down. He couldn’t ask her though because of the level of her activity and how punishing she was to herself. Paul says he watched her for quite a while then? Sunil says Paul must find that amusing. Paul reflects that he uses the same kinds of words to describe the female contestants on Survivor that he uses to describe Julia. He shows excitement when he talks about both the show and Julia. Sunil gets out his tobacco.
Paul recalls Sunil talking about Arun’s visit to india with Julia and how excited Arun was. Sunil says Arun seemed excited that a woman like Julia would be his wife. Kamala had found a Bengali girl she thought would be a good wife for Arun and Julia was a great contrast to her. Paul asks if Sunil finds Julia beautiful. Was it hard to watch them being affectionate? It was more than affection, Sunil says. He says Julia kept adjusting her sari and it kept falling off her shoulder. Arun kept trying to help her, his hands touching her skin and Julia responded. Kamala saw it and was embarrassed and left the table. But Sunil stayed. The next day as soon as Arun woke up he was off to see Julia. They were to meet the couple at the hotel. Sunil went to their room and as he reached the door, he could hear them and they were being intimate. Sunil becomes emotional as he recalls what they said to each other. He stayed there. They came out, saw Sunil and Julia was horrified and fled. This was what precipitated the argument with Arun . Sunil says her behavior, her intimacy with Arun was not acceptable, that Julia was not a good match for Arun .
This past week was the 30th anniversary of his marriage to Kamala. Arun and Sunil prepared a meal and garland of flowers. Julia came and tasted one bite and then said she had to go to a dinner for a young author. Sunil thinks she placed her personal desires ahead of family by going. The author was handsome and young. Julia speaks often with him on the phone. He says she left wearing a very provocative dress. Julia sat next to him and looked him in the eyes, took his hand and kissed his cheek and said she was sorry she had to leave. Arun took care of the children. Sunil is very disapproving. He could not sleep, wondering if Julia would still be around in a year. Paul asks if he thinks Julia is having an affair. Sunil asks Paul if he thinks she is. Because if it is true she will bring great shame on the family and deserve a harsh punishment.
Sunil says in America the culture has turned people into consuming monsters. He knows it is a struggle to put family and honor first. Paul observes how intense Sunil’s feelings are. He asks where those feelings come from. Sunil relates how he became close to a classmate not long before he met Kamala. He was smitten by her. They became a couple. Paul asks what happened? Long silence. Sunil says they stopped seeing each other before graduation. It had become very intense very quickly. Paul asks if he chose to be with someone of the same caste. It was what was important, Sunil says. And he had never told anyone about this until he told paul. He tells Paul he must never tells anyone about this. Paul reassures him. Sunil presses on what circumstances he would reveal. Paul again reassures him. Sunil lights his cigarette again.
Paul asks if it would have mattered if he had told Arun about his own experience. No, he would have married Julia anyway. Sunil says he has no patience with those who do not live a principled life. Paul suggests that even as he honored her memory and had a good life with Kamala, he might also have regret that he ended with the woman in college. Paul says he suspects Sunil was disturbed when he heard Arun and Julia in the hotel but he stayed. He stayed because he was intrigued. And even a little jealous. Sunil asks why he would be jealous of a marriage with a vain woman having an affair Paul asks if Arun is jealous of the other man. Paul notes how detailed was his description of Julia when she went out. He wonders if Sunil feels betrayed by Julia and not just on Arun’s behalf but personally. Sunil reacts very strongly by crying. He then says what an interesting theory and gives Paul a check and asks him to check that the amount is correct.
Paul says he is sorry about how the anniversary evening turned out for him. Sunil gets up and thanks him as Paul is in mid sentence. He touches Paul and thanks him and leaves.
The episode starts showing us Paul being solicitous and gentle with Max who, as Paul said to Adele last week, is making rather dark heavy pencil drawings. The one Paul takes with him seems ominous but we do not really know what it is about.
Almost immediately we see Sunil’s concern about corruption of values and loss of dignity as he talks with Paul about Survivor and Julia. Paul does a nice job connecting the two as Sunil has discussed them and also that it is when talking about these things he disapproves of that Sunil becomes animated and intense.
I haven’t gone back to check, but it is my impression that each time Sunil has talked about Julia and Paul suggests that Sunil has feelings that go beyond disapproval of Julia, Sunil takes out his tobacco and smokes. I would love it if Paul made this observation, because what Sunil does is meaningful behavior. Think about it — smoking smoke fire desire.
Also recall that last week, Sunil talked about encountering Julia in her towel and this week we learn that he stood outside the door when Julia and Arun were being intimate in the hotel in India. He cannot acknowledge his own voyeurism but he makes the association to his own ill-fated attraction to another woman when he was in college. For Sunil, duty and doing what is appropriate trumps desire and pleasure but that does not mean the desire disappears, only that it becomes Shadow for him.
A little Jungian theory here. Consider what Jung said of the anima:
There is [in man] an imago not only of the mother but of the daughter, the sister, the beloved, the heavenly goddess, and the chthonic Baubo. Every mother and every beloved is forced to become the carrier and embodiment of this omnipresent and ageless image, which corresponds to the deepest reality in a man. It belongs to him, this perilous image of Woman; she stands for the loyalty which in the interests of life he must sometimes forego; she is the much needed compensation for the risks, struggles, sacrifices that all end in disappointment; she is the solace for all the bitterness of life. And, at the same time, she is the great illusionist, the seductress, who draws him into life with her Maya-and not only into life’s reasonable and useful aspects, but into its frightful paradoxes and ambivalences where good and evil, success and ruin, hope and despair, counterbalance one another. Because she is his greatest danger she demands from a man his greatest, and if he has it in him she will receive it.[“The Syzygy: Anima and Animus,” CW 9ii, par. 24]
Now, think about Julia and how preoccupied with her Sunil is. She is carrying what we call an “anima projection” of Sunil’s, which is to say that he sees in her this inner feminine side of himself, of which he is unconscious. And she activates the struggle, set aside when he chose to marry Kamala, between duty and desire. Sunil must see Julia as wrong, as dangerous, as a bad wife to his son because she calls into question the choice he made for himself so very long ago.
I also located the El Greco painting which Sunil mentions in this episode. Consider what he says he sees in it and then see the image for yourself.
El Greco: Lady with a Flower