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Aditya Seal is Aditya Seal to the world, but to some of us he is our ‘bachcha,’ and bachcha in Hindi literally translates to ‘my child.’ A dear friend, who happens to be a heavyweight lawyer representing the who’s who of our country, was having coffee with me last week. Customarily, I refrain from taking telephone calls when I am with friends, but considering this was from my office, there was no recourse than to answer it. While I was on the phone, my mate sat brushing his index finger vertically across the screen of his iPhone. At a point he stopped and directed the screen towards me. I narrowed my eyes and discerned that it was a post on my Facebook wall that displayed ‘My bachcha Adi looking dapper yesterday at the Star Screen Awards’ accompanied with the picture of him at the awards. “Have you changed his diapers?” asked my friend, in his lawyer-like air once I was free from the call. I grinned and replied; “One does not have to change their diapers to feel the love one feels for them like they are our own kids.” My friend smiled. “How old is he?” he enquired studying Adi’s photograph carefully. “Would it suffice if I’d say that he’s fifteen years younger to me?” I added with utmost calmness. “Aha,” he exclaimed, as he leaned forward and patted me on my shoulders, “now, you are justified in saying that he is your bachcha, old man.” I chuckled and thought to myself that indeed the love for ‘your own’ is rather an extraordinary feeling to feel. You meet. You click. Without any anxiety. Without any fuss. And it continues that way indefinitely. Similarly, you don’t love your people with a plan. You love them because you love them with all that you have, and that is all that matters – that unconditional and infinite love. “What are you thinking?” quizzed my friend as he gave himself up to a sip of coffee. “That the one thing that people never tire of is love, especially, when they are at the receiving end of it,” I made known. He raised his coffee cup up as if to give me a toast across the table, and I raised my coffee cup too in order to return his gesture of faith and cheer.

Debate it as much as you may, but I think that the love between friends and family members is rather the purest variety of love. For that matter, any type of love where there is no involvement of sex is the purest form of love. It is what I would label ‘greedy-love’ as we derive a certain sense of high in loving them for our own pleasure, but when it comes to the opposite sex, then the equation changes completely. As much as we Homo sapiens live for sex, it is sex alone that sometimes culminates in destroying our peace and health. That is why we feel crushed when we lose a lover, because love of the opposite sex is selfless, but mind you, in the most utterly selfish way. How so you may ask? Well, the single pretence of ‘I am like this but I am adapting myself to this’ that each of us perform is primarily to remain loyal to our subconscious primal instinct, i.e., slip into each other’s skirts and pants at the swiftest available opportunity. That was the law of survival. For that ultimate moment we play-act, and in turn fool ourselves into thinking that we are being selfish, when in actuality we are being selfless. I say this most confidently since despite what your friends or your family members do, if your bond with them is strong, you will survive anything in a blink, but when it comes to your lover, the moment she slips, or the moment you slip, the world, for both, turns upside down. This is where love with the opposite sex is nothing but a thin kind of predetermined ‘give and take’ love, something that can be replaced with someone else, when we feel that the time is up with the one’s we are involved with, whereas, the love we feel for those whom we call our friends or family members, is everlasting.

Given that we are on the topic of love, let us delve a bit deeper into the realm of love with the opposite sex. I apologise if I am making it sound one-sidedly stiff here. I am heterosexual, and therefore, I would not be in a situation to enlighten what it is to feel such intensity for someone of my own sex (like some are known to feel), so I urge people of that nomenclature to kindly read this without holding any prejudice against me.

Call it happenstance, or a design of nature, but while I was mentally scripting this piece this morning, I happened to stumble into a poem about love by William Blake at my library at home. Blake begins with giving us a warning.

Never seek to tell thy love
Love that told can never be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears –
As, she doth depart.

Soon as she was gone from me
A traveller came by
Silently, invisibly –
O, was no deny.

I read that once, and then I read it once more, and I knew that it was an unhappy poem that meant quite literally that if you happen to be in love, then it is best you keep it to yourself. That you can talk about that love, but the instant you talk about it, you aren’t actually talking about it. He means that love is quite a mystery, and if it isn’t a mystery, then it is nothing otherwise. He also states most vividly that in the joy of love there exists a strange desire for the death of such love, and that is what we see so unrestrainedly around us nowadays.

Love comes in various shapes and sizes; nonetheless, the love we seem to celebrate in the society these days is anything but such a magnificent example of it. We are living in a world that is more visual than cerebral, where our attention span is nearly zero, and where our imagination is prohibitively restricted owing to our inability to read and wonder. The digital generation perceives the human body, or the feelings that it evokes in them in the manner of a graphic interpretation, where there is an unswerving obliteration of the mystery associated with love, the feelings it evokes, or what the body feels when our love explores it like one explores the expanse of a prosperous garden to discover that one likes this spot and that flower, this fragrance and that mood. Feelings are vocalised with such insensitivity, and so much of the bare body has been exhibited to everyone in the media that the modern child knows everything the child needs to know on the subject of food, sex and love, but does not know what it is to actually feel what it is to appreciate the taste in food, savour the enticing engagement of sex, and surf the undulating waves of love. 

Not that the current decade alone is responsible for such an erosion of the feelings of love. If you turn back the clock, you will see that when reading was the chief luxury of the day, novelists have spoken about sex so frequently that it has lost its mystery and become no less pornographic. The work of Henry James, as critics claimed, was highly pornographic simply because he tirelessly revealed the details of the sex life of his characters. Leo Tolstoy, whom one admires for his range, was one of the most saintly sinners. His Anna Karenina made everyone fall in love with her, despite that she was selfish, pleasure seeking, avaricious, reckless, insensitive, had dreadful tastes in the men that she loved or married. Even then she upheld a mystery that was fortified in her beauty and charm, and it made it impossible for any man, who read on her, not be able to feel himself not falling entirely in love with her. It is this precise inability to grasp the mystery of love that leads her to her own suicide, wrecking her husband’s career, and in the probable death of her lover as well. In no other work of literature is the depiction of the mystery of love so very mysterious.

Whether or not you think that it is one of mankind’s greatest stories ever written, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is nothing but another attempt at refined pornography. However outstanding the directors, or impressive the actors, both the movie versions that were made could not feature the heroine in Lolita’s actual age. If the girls chosen were to be twelve years old, no matter how beautiful they were, the very idea of an old man with a girl that young would make the idea sickening. When the novel turned into a sensation, and the movies went on to become legendary, societies began to act them out in real life. A girl of Lolita’s age was kidnapped and murdered, and one suddenly realised that the book had such a devastating impact on the reader and viewer that to talk about it, or recommend it to anyone after that murder had become revolting. Don’t we see a little bit of that in the state of love these days? Hasn’t it turned into something frivolous? Where its very sanctity seems misplaced. Let’s not go too far, when parents go looking for respective partners for their children, it is not based on compatibility or the idea of love, but on appearances and wealth that they select the partners. This is where I feel that it would not be inappropriate for matrimonial websites to cut out the crap and merely advertise in big bold letters – Cocks Searching For (Wealthy) Cunts.

If I were to ever be in those matrimonial spaces, my profile would read thus – “I am talking about love. You know, real fucking love, like walking along the banks of a river holding hands.” And if ever there were a female soul out there who could pick up the nuances in my declaration, then I would know at once that she was the one–my soul mate–and I would delete away the double-standards I harbour in me for that race, or for the way they manipulate us men, and place her, at once, in the same ‘greedy-love’ list of people in my life that meant the most to me.

The Swiss writer Max Picard once said something that sounded rather like the poem by William Blake:

Lovers are the conspirators of silence. When a man speaks to his beloved, she listens more to the silence than to the spoken words of her lover. “Be silent,” she seems to whisper. “Be silent that I may hear thee!”

What I infer from those words is this: she is not asking him to ‘shut up’ but is only asking him to ‘stop talking’ and the difference in that is everything, just as it is in art and it is in love. Drawing from that you can see, love of the opposite sex, and sex with the opposite sex, appear with a plethora of absurdities and complexities. No love comes without sacrifice, and no poems without suffering, and after having fallen into numerous pits of abject despair with women, I am today in a zone where I am happy with engaging in it with the women I want to, and most decisively at my yearning, than to do this dance of life that lends it no concrete meaning really, merely for the sake of pleasing the world, or that someone with whom, once the lust starts to diminish, one will eventually learn to despise exactly what one went ‘head over heels’ in them.

To conclude I would say that we must always take sides. Neutrality helps the autocrat, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Hence, the side I am taking is of my bachcha. Agreed, I might have to forego the daily comfort of a woman’s warmth, or if I am to put it blatantly, a well to dip my stick into at will, yet, what provides me more bliss, when I weigh it on a scale of checks and balances, is in taking care of my bachcha, who I know is irreplaceable, who I know might need me, like he would need each of us who are his support system to be there for him, regardless of the fact of whether he draws upon us for support or he doesn’t, the day he opts for the daily comfort of the warmth of a woman. And that would be a moment tougher than changing diapers. A diaper is like the unsaid mystery of love; you take out the shit and throw it away, but the heart is what stands to test when you see your kids in love, and that is where, we, the big brother’s have to be resilient for our kid brother’s, even if we are to find ourselves deeply dented inside on seeing them endure the normal course of life until they are each ready to write their own poetry.