Log Kya Kahenge? Bahot Kuch!
What was I thinking, assuming that a prince on a shiny Air India plane would come from a faraway land and bequeath me to live a love like a moth’s to the flame and no one other than the two of us would have a say in it? How dare I? How dare I question the age-old traditions that value a woman who is devoted to an abusive marriage like a moth to the flame because she got married to that man, because she said those vows and because well, ‘Log Kya Kahenge’. And just imagine, ‘Log Kya Kahenge’ if they found out that I am living with a foreigner, a charming prince from a faraway land, being with whom has brought me face to face with the values I had only heard of.
From people on the street to those back at home, everyone’s wondering, more like worrying, when we are going to take our vows and have a million dollar wedding to sanctify our love; because love is not enough for love. Love needs to have a tag, a 400-people feast, and wedding shoots for Facebook and Instagram ogling. Imagine, only till yester-month, I was laughing at these photographs that are all red and flowery and have spent the past one week discussing marriage because my mother who is the only knower of our little secret wants this settled. Owned. Named. So, if the world sees me walking with this man, they know that we are tied together in a knot. And what if not?
Well, for the ‘if nots’, I have some people take me for a characterless woman because I walk with a foreigner. One offered me a piece of advice to prevent being banished from Hindu society (this man himself drunk in a temple town) and another offered me a few nights to spend with him for if I could live with a foreigner, I could live with any man off the street. No thanks. And no thanks to Chitrakoot in U.P which we ran away from; to avoid prospect honor killing, when we were there once.
Only a few days ago a priest, who knows me as a Hindu Brahmin (not that it matters), saw us sitting hand in hand with such rage that I burned with his disapproval for the rest of the day. If that wasn’t enough, for the past two days two men have spent their morning energies on harassing us to their best. So much so that my lover, who has almost always felt welcomed and loved in India is surprised to see this side of its otherwise loving lot. These are the same ‘selfie please?’ people who used to stop him to get pictures clicked with him because he is a foreigner but considers it decadent or worthy of repulsion to see him walk with me.
We get all of that, every day. While some reactions are very exciting, many others make us feel that we are doing something wrong, really hopeless. Some days are so exhaustive that we feel like we’d rather not be together than to go through all the stresses of making people outside of this relationship love our love. People close to us indicate wedding sweets as an option to make the bitter truth acceptable, and strangers in restaurant chew their food with such bitterness like scorning at their Idli would have me love my lover any lesser. And yet, there are some other, really safe strangers, who assume me to be an Israeli; I assume, because they think no Indian girl to be up to such vice.
Named, Unnamed, Naked Love
I bow down to the reality though. My lover and I, we are a cultural battle. But we are almost always in the glory of our glowing love. Our minds are filled with what-ifs of the coming days, hearts filled with love today and spirits involved in eternal lovemaking. When we walk the streets of the temple town that we currently have built a home in; some scorn, some smile, many think we are beautiful together; many others spew such hatred that could make the nations fall away. But we see hope. We see hopes in people who think it is possible for them to be with people they love too; no matter the caste, creed, race or religion. We see hopes in uncles that we meet every day who smile at us; knowing of our secret, loving of our secret. I see hopes in this man, an Indian father to an Indian daughter, who told me yesterday that we look beautiful together. He approved of what we shared and felt. And this gives me so much hope for the little girl that he’s growing to be independent of her value system.
This gives us hope for love to be accepted in any form: named, unnamed, naked. This gives us the belief that love doesn’t have to be bordered and bound but to let breathe in the morning sun. Breathe in. Breathe out. We have realized that no one can ever choose who to fall in love with. If I could, I’d choose someone as centered and calm in my home country, my religion, my areas of interest, my kind of taste in music. But I can’t and he can’t and you can’t and you know that.
Living with a foreigner in my home country of India has taught me to be brave, to fight not only for our love but for love; love that breathes between many but is denied, locked in a box and thrown into the ocean. It gives me hopes that love like moth’s to the flame is almost about to be accepted, one relationship, one struggle at a time. Living with him has given me so much strength to embrace my true ideals and let the conventions be for the ones who believe in it. I don’t live this relationship to prove to the others how this is possible. But their reactions and apprehensions give me so much strength to fight and make the human love as the most natural convention to be embraced unnamed, naked.