Monday, January 18, 2010


Recently I saw an interesting TV-ad which presented the current mantra of 'celebration' in a new light. Boy celebrates with friends the demise of his live-in relationship, as fidgety girl waits at an adjacent table, alone, perhaps on a new a boyfriend. Of course, a 30-second advert cannot show all the details, but the suggestion is quite well-done. And it makes one think—especially old timers like yours truly—about some of the things which have changed.

And it also makes me think of a well-known quote from the Upanishad which runs like this: It is not for the wife that the wife is dear... but for one's own sake. Brilliantly conceived and truly spoken, it's an inspiring utterance. (In patches like these, Upanishad lives up to that high reputation Max Müller has guaranteed for it, as "Himalayas of the human soul.")

Which immediately returns me to the problem at hand. At least some of us are haunted by the spectre of dangling loose in a society where we don't belong. The boy is unperturbed by the fact that he has been dumped precisely because he was looking to be dumped; the relationship's gone stale in a few weeks or months or whatever. He also knows that he's at the tip of the tongue of social possibility—girls waiting to be known, worlds waiting to be sampled, more ditches, and more celebrations. The ad is not shown from the girl's viewpoint, so let's not digress to discuss that. But we note that for her, too, there are distinct possibilities, though she might not have gathered a group of friends to celebrate how she'd just "dumped" a boyfriend. And yet, at least some of us might have noted this situation, this 'cause for celebration' as a bit far-fetched. It doesn't sound 'right.'

Why is it so? There are many reasons, there can be many reasons, but for those in the ditch, it all means little, for it hits them hard like a never-ending nightmare, and means just one thing—outright rejection. It is an unqualified, total rejection from everything. First, their minds cast them out. When this has been done, they are totally on the outside, waiting to come... into their own. They cast themselves out of their own home, their temple.

A reason is only for justifying and means nothing for the tormented. And now, let's look for a few in the vain hope that it will be of interest to some convalescent. I've passed through this stage at least thrice in my life, at three different points differing widely in circumstances—so I guess it should be helpful. While I was down, no reasoning of this sort entered my mind. Somehow, it all got patched up. (The best remedy is a call to immediate action. Love, and crushed crushes, are all the monopoly of an idle mind—an 'ideal' mind.) So, in a bulleted format: ~
  • Love is often a 'scarce' resource. Though potentially every human being of the opposite sex (mostly) is a candidate for your attentions, there never is such a superabundant choice. 'All visual treats do not into a delectable fare translate.' Most often, there are several practical limitations on what we can have, and when we have sorted it out, we do our best to fool ourselves that is is indeed a case of "love at first (sigh)t" or whatever.
  • Love is often exhausting, especially when you have to contend with a lot of antagonistic factors, such as when you belong to different religious or economic backgrounds, are widely separated in temperament, and so on. These, I'd also note, are the marks of a true love, and not an arranged one, and a situation where the parties, at least one of them if not both, are likely to get involved deeply.
  • If love is not a romantic interlude between engagement and marriage, in which case it's all stage-managed and the bride's folks gradually tune themselves in to the fact that she'd an expendable bit of expensive trash decking her down to the drains (at their expense, of course), it can be a very expensive moral commitment.
  • In this case, and in this case only, a lover is what we hope to keep from our occasional brush with a society we despise in every other way. In a way, a lover is "winnings." It is what we keep from the battle. It is the only thing we went into battle for; it is the only thing we kept our appointment with society.
  • Gradually, brick-by-brick, we make the effort to get to know the other's feelings and way of thinking. This is the first big mistake, a relic from the hippie-age. (More about this later on.) Then, when we have sufficiently "scouted" the surroundings, and convinced ourselves that we have done our bit of the moral commitment, we dig in and try to install our own designs. (Reciprocity, or, "one confidence deserves another.") This is a painstaking process, one which is often lavishly embellished by fringe benefits of an eager and obvious kind.
  • If it does not go away in a few months (most likely it would not), then you already pass into the 'mature' stage of a man-woman relationship without ever having lived together. The ride is downhill from then; at least, 'the honeymoon is over.'
  • Hopes and longings, and sunny wishes for a life together, are coldly replaced by platitudes—completely phony, but very real and alarmingly threatening for the parties concerned. They are almost fooled into believing in scruples, almost as if they have been married or committed for ages.
  • They begin to blindly look towards marriage as a solution for their problems. Marriage is the end of youth and the beginning of maturity; but in the case of our overs, this stage is only a heightened stupidity. They start to believe in something which they had silently denounced at the beginning of their 'friendship.' This is where the trap closes.
  • The boy, if he can, will wait for as long as he could...but practically, the boy cannot wait forever. Economical considerations far outweigh any other in this stage. If both are financially independent and employed, they will most likely marry, for they know there are no more possibilities, no more exciting possibilities, left for them. But if not independent, the girl's folks busy themselves and find her a husband. (This is the classical situation, at least in our state.)
  • Very rudely, the lovers are shaken out of their dream lives and threshed on the hard floor of reality. Words fly, there are blames, but finally, it all amounts to one thing: the girl on a pedestal watched by a thousand, and the boy in a sanatorium or on valium.
All I have to say at this point, is that it is all too much bother for so little. It doesn't really matter as long as you choose (not) to marry; it is not the person but the process. I wouldn't think you'd choose someone whom you'd regret, of course; but as long as you are aware of what you're doing, then the rest of your world shouldn't collapse.

A home, it seems, isn't built in a day.


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