Love Aaj Kal

-Riya Nagendra, II B.A. English

Aside from the usual tales a grandmother is known to tell her grandchildren, mine often told me the story of my parents’ meet-cute. An encounter worthy of a movie, it starts off with my mother rejecting a chance to study in the States and choosing instead to work with the villagers of Varanasi. She travelled alone by train to the village of Sevapuri, her heart fluttering nervously (was it her heart fluttering or was it her mother’s; worried for her daughter?), only to be received at the station by someone from the group she was to work with. Of course, that someone was my father, who (according to my grandmother) fell in love with her at once.

I always imagined the scene with sepia overtones or in the style of a typical Bollywood movie from the ‘90s but it tickles me that it happened in full colour, in real life, around thirty years ago. Love stories from different generations are easier to process if they’re in the form of art but it’s always truly incredible to listen to stories of your family members’ romantic escapades.

Some of these tales are so full of the clichés you see in books, it makes you let out a good-natured groan, or go “oho!” and you wonder if Oscar Wilde wasn’t right in saying that life imitates art far more than art imitates life. Sharu’s parents, for example, come from different ends of the country (one from Kerala and the other from Assam) and their marriage was initially opposed – a tale as old as time; but love like that can’t be denied for long!

Those of us who had crushes in high school, only to be told off by our parents, (“There’s time for that later, focus on your studies now!”) will enjoy this one about Nevedetha’s mother’s classmates who were just twelve years old when they fell in love and, of course, everyone thought they were crazy and tried talking them out of it. Their parents, as expected, were worried about their academic prowess but they proved everyone wrong by topping their class (in fact, both of them competed with each other for the first rank) and keeping their relationship strong. Despite a few fallouts here and there they always ended up back together – and have now been together for 33 years!

There are also different kinds of love to be considered, especially when arranged marriages are concerned. There are so many cases of amiable companionship, rather than something that would be traditionally classified as being ‘romantic’, and these relationships are no less – they take a certain amount of respect and empathy. Falling in love can sometimes be very easy (especially if, like my grandmother, you’ve lived next door to your partner all your life), but relationships can be tenuous – they need care. Things have changed between this generation and the past ones and so have people’s needs – especially since we’re becoming more aware of what we, as women and humans, are capable of doing. There’s a balance between independence and commitment that’s hard to strike – but it always helps to sit down (preferably with a cup of tea and some murukku) and talk to your parents, grandparents, and numerous aunts and cousins about their experiences.

Their stories live on and you learn a little more about life.

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