Love is the wildest human emotion granted to the oppressed as a liberating tool. However, a dejected society wants to control the staple flow of love-energy that is light as air and heavy as a drowsing thought. We’ve made love a conservative adaptation. Ever since childhood, love is among the first things parents and others in the family and society constantly reinforce to a child. However, that love is not the one that can confidently declare its sumptuous abilities to live the fairy tale dream delivered in the utopia of children stories.
Each child has her world and prefers living in it. She constructs identities, names, architectures, human relations, and tries to navigate the tenderness of one’s emotions in that civilisation. In that childhood utopia, we find the highest achievable standards of life, mental and physical health and love as a process of human-photosynthesis. There we consume and exhale love. This world is so beautiful that one who is privileged to have such childhood often wants to live in it. The child wants to freeze the time zone of that journey. However, as soon as it notices the child living in her wildest imagination of possibilities, society seizes this from her.
Mad, insane, senile are some of the oft-repeated vocabularies inserted into children’s mental dictionaries as they attempt to grow. Why is it that society wants one to regulate one’s actions to a fixed discipline of life? We are capable of living the way we want to. After all, independence and autonomy are what we constantly seek.
The men in India need to be mothered, which is to be loved properly. This mothering requires mothers to affectionately indoctrinate their feminine love and fathers to withdraw their patriarchal decree. In whole, men need to be feminised in their love. The femininity of love has no gender, neither sexual orientation. It simply talks about the other in tender, calm and responsible way. The entire Indian-man make-up is to thwart motherly affections and instead gangsterise one’s posture to present phallic manliness. Polygamy as a ritual of celebrating one’s manhood is now part of cultural hooliganism. Patriarchy sucks up everything human values endear and instead bolsters one’s flail terrors. A man is not taught about woman sexuality and her needs. In the absence of such education, the love that child was taught turns out to be a lust pacifying anger. To mistreat a woman and denounce her sexual autonomy then becomes a reason for one to be a man. Due to the lack of sexual dialogue in our society, many husbands and wives have difficulty encountering their suppressed needs and desires.
After repeated assaults and attacks, society asks the victim to be forgiving. How can one muster courage to deny the possibility of hatred and revenge, by matter of mere confession on the part of the convict? Love then becomes a cheap ticket sold in the market of bodies. It doesn’t bring the awesomeness of its full potential. Love is not a practice, it is an ethic. One lives by it. Why love the one who is hell-bent on destroying you and ensuring that your credibility is devastated? People from mountain tops will sermon like the pontiff about the beauty of love until the assault reaches their shores. Therein they start finding self-preservation. Then one questions the credibility of love retailers who preach love as didactic. Estimating love through religion becomes smuggling of stolen human emotions.
This irreligious and badly made definition of love is only there for preaching but not practice. Once in a while perhaps there is an occasion to celebrate the moments of love. How do you teach this to a child who has been robbed of his/her innocence, when 40-odd million child labourers toil in the field, on the road, at construction sites, begging outside temples, streets, foraging in the junkyard?
We continue to witness such spectacle and have charitable, momentary pity. Even we might think of doing something but we want to activate our most powerful brain cell — forgetfulness. We would like to forget and move on. Offer justification — we cannot do any thing, or worse, ‘they are in this condition because they deserved it’ is our blunt reaction. We all have done something of this sort once in our lifetime. Redemption for ourselves is only what we seek. We have categorised human emotions and our response to a calamity based on one’s last name.
In this practice, women and men take active part. In a society bound by the religion of endogamy, loving is a treacherous act. Love is pure and impure. Loving is poisonous vitriol. Only mad people chose to love and test the audacity of its limits. Any sane person would follow the ritual of Indian life. Birth — teenage — grow casteist — youth — become an agent of caste — heterosexual marriage — transform into mature casteist — to children transport casteism — old age — despise everyone — death — die a casteist.
In India love is not free. It is strictly put in chains, bound for generations. If one dares to participate in love, the love giver and receiver face unmeasurable wrath. Parents and society who teach us so much about love do not demonstrate how to love. They become hypocrite agents of such troubled narration. They inject conditioned love that is impossible elsewhere but possible in caste conditions patrolled by strict rules.
The child upon witnessing such a story goes back to the doors of his/her imagination that is infused with carefree possibilities. That state of free mind is incumbent to breaking barriers and halts on enjoyment of freedoms.
This article first appeared in the print edition on November 17, 2019 under the title ‘The slow muffling of love by society.’ Suraj Yengde, author of bestseller Caste Matters, is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and a recipient of the Rohith Vemula Memorial Scholar Award. He curates the fortnightly ‘Dalitality’ column
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