Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

While watching “Zero Dark Thirty”, it left me the impression that there’s no work and life balance in being a CIA agent. The tortures (which sparked controversy) and the manhunt operations seem to leave you with almost nothing but danger. Still, I find the film quite intriguing in a way, especially its main character.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenplay writer Mark Boal had complimented well to bring up together the unspoken cringes of history and humanity in this docu-drama film. The film, I find, is not solely on victory of an operation alone but on how history can never be founded solely not on the cold texts of words but from a silent litany of humanism that tries to be hidden in a harsh world.

While much points from this film is worthy of discussion, I’d like to focus on Maya’s character. Actress Jessica Chastain had pulled well such a character; the humanity of a woman covered beneath a steel-like character in order to prove herself in the tough world of men.

Maya is one tough CIA agent whose determination to get Osama Bin Laden (who has been code named as UBL) tend to show her as hard as she can be more than the men around her. The film seem to have emphasized her to be of a stronger personality even over her male superiors. While one played golf for a pastime in his office and the other passes a few minutes by talking idly on the phone, Maya is the one pictured as totally focused on the manhunt for the notorious leader of the Al-Qaeda group.

I find her character almost inhuman; her focus on her job gave her no time for a lovelife or even having friends. When she arrived late at a dinner in the before-then bombed Mariott Hotel in Islamabad because of delays over checkpoints, her colleague reminded her “We’re socializing; be social”. At the run of their conversation, she was asked if she had any friends at all; to which her silence marked “yes” as her reply.

Here is a woman who was willing to disregard feelings to make sure they would find what they was looking for. In her disappointment that no team was deployed at Rawal Pindi to search for the man linked to Bin Laden, she told her team, “I don’t really care if you guys get sleep or not”; even though the team leader told her that to look at such a place is dangerous and that how tired they were. She told the Navy Seals who were to pull off that operation that would be the death of the Al-Qaeda leader, “You’re gonna kill him for me.”

Yet, in the end she reveals herself as a woman, almost broken because of the cruelty of such an operation. No matter how she was bent and focused to make sure that the one she was looking for was found after more than a decade, she did not gave herself regards when the body was brought to their camp. Rather, she cried over the ordeal that was crushing her humanity within her from the beginning.

Maya, as she cried alone in the plane, must have not told anybody how heavy the weight of this manhunt operation had been on her. She lost colleagues and the few friends that she had, pushed away the balanced normal life anybody could have, while maintaining possessiveness on this mission. I just got lost on what pushed her to be almost obsessive in this mission for all those years. She could have left herself almost nothing just to make sure it’s done. I just wonder after all that manhunt ended, how her life would be after?

There’s humanity in every one of us. Whether one is a soldier or a terrorist, he’s still human. No matter how we make ourselves look tough or cold before the public, there is still the soft edge within us that make us human. We are not created to be emotionless as machines. Maya tried to disregard emotions as she focused on the strength of her mind. Although she got what she looking for, in the end, I believe she was never fulfilled at all.

We might have been totally focused in our tasks. It’s good to be determined, tough, and focused. But though being successful in what we’re doing, if we don’t have the most important things in life, there is never a balance. It has always been said that the most important things in life are unseen. The mind, the skill, and your career may be lost but yet recovered again. But love, friendship, hope, and peace are just some of the things that will forever stay…unless disregarded in vain.

The manhunt operation was a success. But if Maya had balanced herself with the friendship and love of the people around her she might have been a stronger woman from within. But I guess she had another secret for this  she did not want anyone to be weakened by revealing her weaknesses as a woman. Rather, in order to see this operation pull-off in success, she sacrificed herself much…for her country and for her people.

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