The other day while waiting to collect my order of idli-sambar at the neighbourhood food court, I noticed on the television above the counter the news of Sania Mirza calling off her engagement. Thankfully, the telly was on mute and except for the cheesy graphics I was spared the horror of the reporter’s agony and angst ridden repertoire. Later I came across the news again in the paper and liked what the lady had to say about the break up. Something to the tune of – “We were friends for years, but found ourselves incompatible as fiances”.
Every relationship has its own tale. Like the opening lines of Anna Karenina:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
It often takes a lifetime to realise that relationships do not always work out the way they were expected to. There are the ones which take off like firworks and then fizz out. Or the ones that start burning like a slow fire with wet wood and then glow bright, spreading a comfortable warmth. Often relationships come a full circle and don’t know where to go next. Especially when people have known each other for a considerably long time, that by the time they come together there is nothing new to discover about each other (#notmyquote). They become partnerships or just households. Secure and staid, but without any heartaching emotion. Often leading into territories where dilemmas, questions and justifications of faith raise their heads.
People come together with myriad yearnings – love, compassion, physical bonds, security, freedom, and sometimes even impassioned calculations. Some things work out, some others don’t. The ones that don’t, need attention. And without resolution they stay on, like the throbbing of an age old migraine. Painful, yet ignored by a practised habit. Most often than not (especially here in our country), people carry on with their long-dead relationships for the sake of societal norms, ranging from family pride to the stigma of being homewreckers or just as their own personal choice (a nice post related to this here).
I was drawn into a discussion the other day about two films – When Harry Met Sally and The Notebook. Both were extremely enjoyable, but I had my own reservations about them. The first assumes that men and women can never be friends and eventually ends with the protagonists getting together. While the latter has the female lead returning to her first love, leaving behind a fiance at the last minute. Both were ideal solutions to seemingly complicated situations, which would make most of the audience happy. While Harry & Sally effectively seal the ‘fact’ that other than lovers there is no possibility of men and women to have any kind of non-romantic-but-emotionally-caring-buddies relationship (*), ‘the notebook’ on the other hand dilutes the complications of the quagmire that the lady finds herself in. On one side is her memory of a whirlwind teen romance which was nipped without a closure, and on the other end was a mature romance between two people who have seen more of the world and had connected at a stage of their lives when moving towards a stable and mellow bond would come with the least of regrets. In anycase, the fall guy had hardly spent enough screen time for the audience to feel much sympathy for him and he made way for the first love. I would have liked to know how this couple overcome the awkwardness that generally creeps in due to the time spent apart, or how the lady gets over the guilt of cutting short her second relationship that must have been at an extremely intimate state (perhaps the book deals with it better). Or how Harry & Sally settled household matters and other mundane stuff. Well, these are perhaps the least of the worries that cinegoers would like to indulge in.
People shape their perpectives from what they see around them and then nurture them with their own experiences. Cinema is a primary source for a lot of young people to form their opinions of ideal relationships. And these mostly end up in monochrome. Binaries of extremes, that churn out moony eyed expectations. Imho, relationships have so many vivid and nested shades. Even when things seem to have come to a stop, there are the hidden undercurrents that makes it easier to share and care for each other. Some call it habit. Probably, it is also a mix of guilt-ridden sense of responsibilty that one is unlikely to desecrate. However, these shades are generally not visible, unless a person shares a relationship into a considerable depth. It is unfortunate that the monochrome visions often miss these lines in between and by the time they figure it out, the depth sucks them in. A possible solution here would perhaps include widening the horizons from personal experience, but then that brings with it, its own set of complications. And honestly, I don’t think our society is liberal enough (not just in patches, but entirely) yet to handle such lifestyle changes.
Moving on, these two lines from the song ‘Uff- yeh ada’ (Karthik Calling Karthik) have stuck into my head.
pyar agar hai mujhse pyar jataa ke naach
jaan-o-dil jo hai teri mujhpe luta ke naach
Roughly translated they read – if you have love for me in then show it while you dance, give all you have to it while you dance. I believe this is true for every kind of relationship – not just romantic ones. Whatever you feel in your heart for a person (friend, lover, sibling) don’t hold any of it back and give all it takes to make it honest and worthwhile.
* apparently if it hurts to share a friend then its definitely not friendship any more… #notmyquote, but that was a convincing argument during the discussion that can perhaps measure when people can no longer be ‘just friends’ and have moved onto the next stage.