Millennium Post

Nothing wrong with public display of love

Two newspaper articles recently caught my attention. The first quotes the father who killed his daughter and her boyfriend in the Rohtak district of Haryana for eloping as saying, ‘Whatever I did was right and for honour. If others also follow the same path, such things (love marriages) won’t take place.’ The other article points out that more Dalits are marrying out of caste, ‘in the phenomenon long suggested by social reformers as the best tool to weaken the barriers of caste segregation.’ Ironically, my mainstream newspaper carried these pieces on the same page.

Over lunch the other day, India’s most famous cinematographer Ravi K Chandran told me that he and Hema ran away and got married 23 years ago. ‘Why?’ I asked, perched atop my urban liberal worldview, born of (at least) two generations of relatively easy love marriages. ‘Why are you surprised?’ he asked. ‘In most of India, the only way to marry for love is to run away and do so.’
Most traditional societies and religions don’t like love. It is no surprise that in feudal, patriarchal states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, MP, Punjab and Rajasthan, this most basic of all emotions (and its sexual fallout and/or social culmination in marriage) is so scary. Love is blind, and deaf to reason, ‘honour’, society, status, money, norms. It beckons their young (daughters, in particular) away from their fold, un-enslaves them from ‘mummy-daddy’, and makes them — gasp — free-willed. It breeds in young, reckless minds and hearts, and feeds on Bollywood happily-ever-afters, romantic notions and lust. It grows in the generation gap like an insidious sapling in a wall crack. It is a subversive, idealistic idea that disregards social, political, economic, religious, caste barriers like no preaching, media or education can achieve.

One would think that education and its spirit of questioning would rid people of some of these abstract, inconsequential and often preposterous notions.

Wealth — with the opportunities it provides to broaden horizons, travel, and be exposed to more world-views and cultures — can be a double-edged sword. Though successive generations tend to be less religious and rigid than the ones before, I’ve sometimes found that my wealthier peers have ended up surprisingly conformist when it comes to love, marriage and parents’ expectations... perhaps because they feel they have more to lose.

A good love story makes for happy people, happy people make for happy citizens, neighbours, fathers, mothers... and in a culture of hate, one can see why that would be a problem. And we are, globally, a culture of hate. A recent study found that anger is the fastest spreading emotion on social networks. We’re okay with Public Displays of Anger, Aggression, but—to quote a Facebook status update I recently read—’hold hands in public and the police get its knickers in a twist!’

Even in our movies: rarely does violence — senseless, stylised, raw, revolting — ever receive as much censure as the humble bedroom scene. Break that down, and one wonders what norms we’re setting: that love, lust, happy-making things are not okay, while anger, hate, dishoom-dishoom, yeah, they’re just fine, signs of masculinity, justice, society.
Next Story
Share it