Is it not a matter of choice?


After long discussions with colleagues and friends, and reading here and there on the topic of live-in relationship, I was about to give final touches to this post when Mahesh called in. It was about the posts on the same topic on his blog.
The posts and the comments those posts have evoked really amused me. How can we be so stubborn to stick to our point of view just for the sake of defending it!!! If we say something is wrong in other person’s perspective, then we overwhelmingly want to prove how right we are in thinking so- and get this much mesmerized with our line of thought that we fail to see other lines running parallel to our own.

Mahesh writes a story depicting two extreme values of the society, where one female takes it the wrong way. And then starts a discussion, which eventually turns out to be a war of words where almost every one is sticking at either of the two fronts - one pro and one anti; and some onlookers dropping their shells in between.

Now, coming onto the topic itself… My questions are- Have we actually understood the meaning of live-in relationship? Do we think it only means promiscuity, or a person can be committed even if name of the relationship is live-in? Do we want to discard it just on this ground that it is a foreign concept, and foreign concepts are always unethical and invite doom? Do we see it as a threat to the marriage system? Do we really think that this will make life of a woman more miserable? Do we not want any label other than ‘marriage’ for the commitment and honesty between two individuals? Do we not want to give a female that freedom of choice and decision, which a male has enjoyed since times immemorial? Are we adamant on this opinion of ours that a male is always a cheater and he can’t be in love? Are we of the opinion that a live-in will continue to be as such for always and it will not culminate in marriage? And does a live-in invariably mean that it will start with a physical relationship?

I think the last point is the real reason behind such howls and cries that so-called ideologists are making. They reason that by giving live-in relationships a shield of law we are actually legalizing pre-marital and extra-marital relations. But, do such relations not exist or will not exist if it is not legalized? Just check the various social surveys being conducted in India. The results will make your jaw drop to your knees.

First of all, if we keep on arguing keeping in mind that a live-in relationship is a bypass of marriage system or is on the opposite end of it, we are not going to reach anywhere. No relation, no name and no law can bind two people except for honesty, love and a mutual recognition and respect for each other’s emotions, space and individuality. Can we guarantee these values by just tying nuptial knots between two people? Can you guarantee that a male will not cheat his partner if they are married? Can you ensure a lifelong relationship after marriage? Alas, not!!
Then, can’t a live-in between two individuals be an umbilical cord for institution of marriage? Yes, why not!! We colleagues were discussing this topic the other day. A very senior colleague said quoting a lesser-known Bengali writer of fifties who later migrated to Britain - “Two individuals very little known to each other and not even accustomed to smell of each other’s sweat are made to sleep together after marriage. What makes them do so? Law, not love.” Now, will just the law decide with whom you have to stay for life? Should it not be matter of choice? Should a person not select who should be his or her life partner and with whom one wants to be in an intimate relationship?
Well, this equation, which arises out of an arranged marriage, may not bother a person who is not averse to one-night stands; for him it will be just another fun night. But just think of a person for whom a physical relationship is an expression and extension of love and trust, and for whom it is nothing less than an eternal wish to blend and be one with the person he or she loves; the person who always longs for a little touch of a loved one, and a slightest press of hand is enough to soar the spirits to their highest. Such feelings are largely true for a female. So, not her dreams come crashing upon her when she has to be intimate with a total stranger?? One can easily understand how much pain her soul must be enduring.
So, does a live-in give a male a free hand to exploit females or does it give a female a freedom of choice she deserves. One knows fairly well how male-dominated societies have been treating females – history vouches for it. But freedom of opinion and decision has largely been absent. Those who are making outcries that live-in will make woman’s life miserable, actually fail to or don’t want to appreciate the brighter side of the concept.
A live-in does not exactly mean that a female has to be forced to be in relationship. It is her choice. In the process of living together, live-in partners do come to watch each other closely and know each other. All the aspects of their personality lay bare to each other. And over a period of time, if they feel comfortable and attached enough to live together for life, then who is stopping them? It means a female has a choice whether to go into a relationship or not. It is the nuptial not of hearts and trust, and not governed by law. And such relations are by and large more honest and long-lived.

And even if two partners go for physical relations only, then is it not happening already in the society and is there any law that stops two major people from staying together or entering in such relation on mutual consent? What difference will it make to such persons if live-in is legalized or not. Again, it is a matter of choice.

Noted painter and poet Imroz had recently said in an interview- “In the present system of marriage, most of the times two people meet just once before marriage. Is it enough to bind them together for the whole life? And even if they meet more than once, that is not actually for understanding each other and deciding whether they want to live together or not. In the name of understanding, they try to be artificial to impress each other lest the engagement should break. And on this artificial base, a relationship is built. And many people keep on carrying the load of marriage despite being comfortable in it. They just don’t live this relation they bear it. If we expect honesty in keeping a relationship alive, then why not be honest in ending it if we know it actually does not exist!”

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