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Fear & Insecurity

A conversation with a wise girlfriend you’re seeing after awhile can be food for thought. As you exchange titbits of information about news and the then and the now, there’s realization and growing up that happens in those very moments.

I mentioned a name, quite unconsciously with reference to something else. She picked it up and probed. So I told her some. And she told me what she knew, coming from a different source, a different angle. As we put the two together, her story and mine, we created an idea, based on the framework of the person we discussed.

There are of course the men who never got used to the fact that women got a vote, the right to their own bodies, education and careers as well. But there’s a different sort of man around now. This one has had ample time to get used to it. Maybe he had a strong mother. Perhaps he grew up with an ambitious sister. Or maybe he was just sharp that way and found himself the company of women like that.

That means he’s had the time to not just understand and appreciate their motives but also see their Achilles heel, hidden as it may be. The women of today are just as human as the ones that came before them. And hence, we have our own brand of insecurities and fears.

The thing is, my wise friend said,

A guy who sees that insecurity and tries to exploit it to his advantage.

Don’t we know him? We all do, we’ve encountered him at various points of time. In the case we discussed, there was a girl who my friend described as ‘not conventionally good-looking’. The guy in question knows this and seems to be using this over her as a control game. The reason this clicked was that I know when he tried a similar strategy but with a different tactic. He used age instead of looks.

Now the guy in question is of barely any, if at all, consequence to me. The reason this stayed with me is because it brought me back to my own experience of an abusive relationship all those years ago. It’s been very difficult for me to answer questions like why I stayed with him and what hold he had over me.

The answer is of course that he knew my fears and took advantage of them. No one is so strong that they have no fears. And nobody is so guarded in a relationship that keep all their secrets. But those secrets can turn into ammunition in the wrong hands.

Strangely enough our conversation earlier in the evening revolved around fairness creams. I was trying to explain why the idea of having worked with them at some point of time in my career is something I carry with heavy guilt. She admitted that she had used fairness creams for a good while herself. Then she said,

Strange as it may sound, my moment of reckoning came when I read about the Aishwarya Rai-Salman Khan relationship. To know that a woman like could get battered was to realize that it had nothing to do with looks whatsoever. And that’s when I stopped needing those creams.

Hmm, interesting. So we have our fearful secrets and we have even more furtive ways of getting over them. Those close to us can turn traitor. While those on a completely different world from us, can be our salvation.

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Long Distance Relationships

Let’s be honest. Given a choice, I would never pick a long distance relationship. I mean, what’s the point? Like DeePad says in Love Aaj Kal,

Kya fayda? Relationship ke jo achche things hai woh nahin.

(What’s the point? The benefits of a relationship aren’t present.)

And yet, I guess long distance relationships do happen. No one gets into one for the sheer joy of it. It’s practical (like the movie says) and we live in a world of super-pragmatism.

Anurag Kashyap makes an interesting observation (in his commentary of Dev D – quoted in context only, not words).

In that time, people used to write letters to and wait for months to hear from each other. In this day and age, they talk every day, they chat and email. They are a part of each other’s lives. They are emotionally connected. So the frustration is just physical.

Interesting point that. It isn’t just the sexual deprivation while being completely fulfilled on all the other fronts. There is that loss of a tangibleness in the relationship. For a hardcore sentimentalist like me, I wonder where’s the romance in memories of emails and phone conversations?

There is of course that sense of incompleteness from not really know what the other person is looking like at the point of time. Is he smiling, does she incline her head to one side when I say her name? Even more, in detail, I can explain the delicious aroma of the samosas frying next door but can he really grasp the entirety of what I’m saying? Does,

I’d love to be sharing them with a hot cup of tea with you on a day like this?

..even begin to cut it? Truly, a look is worth a thousand words and more. There is so much that words can’t say, after all, that my eyes can.

Which brings me to think about the last time I had a long-distance relationship. I think the biggest problem with it was that you may still be able to sustain a relationship long distance. But to build a relationship long distance…that just seems impossible to me now.

I think what also happens is that one tends to overcompensate for the lack of physical proximity with an extra serving of emotional intimacy. For what else is our compulsive social networking, our minute-to-minute status updates? We miss the physical company of other people and probably we are all such a lonely generation that we wander into the excess of forced emotional closeness.

To come back to the long distance relationship, I must admit that there is also something vaguely appealing about it, in equal measure. There is the convenience and practicality masquerading as ‘respect for the other person’s choices’.

There is the supposed trust and comfort levels that we associate with being able to have a relationship with two physical addresses. Perhaps it is true that some measure of trust does exist but in today’s day of disposable relationships and where marriage itself is an ambiguous term, I think it is largely about shutting your eyes to what you don’t want to face. Somehow a relationship whose manifestations are no more than an email inbox and a mobile phone just seem easier to shut away or even ignore. (I rather expect this statement will cause some uproar so I’ll clarify that as everything else on this blog, it’s just my point of view). What can be more attractive to a generation of people hungover on choices and control?

There is a certain romanticization too, of the other person, of the special bond etc. But when it comes down to it, people are just people, it is our individual experiences with them that make them special to us. And there is that undefinable something that draws us to a particular person and not another. I’m just saying that we’re ignoring that altogether in a long-distance relationship.

It’s like perfume. There’s no point trying to describe it, you  just have to get close and smell it to know what it’s like.

Versions of this article are also posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty and Love Beckons.

History

These things never go away.
If there has ever been history, it will show even if you are in the same room.

Yes, very dramatic. And perhaps romantic. Heartening, even to some.

But reality seems to indicate otherwise. Attraction, like everything else, is impermanent. Or perhaps I’m only thinking of fancy and not real lust.

And yet, the novelty is so much a part of the attraction, the first time round…I often wonder what keeps couples together after years and years and years. Sure, there is the comfort and caring and real depth of a good relationship. But attraction?

And if you don’t stay a couple and meet several years and other people later, is it a given that things wouldn’t have changed? I don’t think so. People change, times change, tastes change too. So who knows, a re-union could be a real re-union…or just a history lesson. I’ll lay my chances on the latter.

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A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

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