I recently read an essay on Love written by my friend Tejaswini of the Baba Yaga Project that touched on the complexity of love while praising Brokeback Mountain. That touched a chord in me as I reflected about love and its myriad problems.
I started wondering about all the times that I had gone wrong trying to find love and then the realization dawned on me that compared to a lot of people , I was extremely fortunate.
The first (and only) time that I was convinced that I had found my 16 cow wife (to use her parlance), I failed to communicate to her what she meant to me and lost her when I was busying myself trying to acquire the 16 cows that I needed to impress upon her what she meant to me . You ask me , why did I wait instead of telling her ?well my communication skills being what they are , I might have benefited from schooling in communication theory instead of computer communication theory .
The next time was more complicated , I was fully immersed in hedonistic pleasures while she kept telling me how much she loved me. After a prolonged period of reading classics together in intimate privacy , it slowly dawned on me that perhaps I did love her and proceeded to tell her that how much I loved her , however wedding bells did not follow . Instead she proceeded to tell me that she had found her paramour from her teen years and she was in love with him and had always been . I was baffled beyond comprehension . But I tried to salvage by writing poems and letters and eventually hit the proverbial bottle and I realized too late that begging was the worst possible thing to do for any self respecting human being. Circumstances did provide me with an opportunity to reconcile but fear of repeating history would not let me forgive and forget .
The next time was colossal stupidity on my part , she was perfect for me in every sense and yet I clammed up. To this day , I keep wondering what on earth possessed me . I watched Silver Linings Playbook recently and there is a quote by Robert De Niro when he is telling his son to go after the woman he loves “Sometimes life reaches out to you and you have to grab it back ” . And as if that was not enough , the friendship that I cherished so much and that I had so desperately hoped to preserve was lost as well.
The fourth time is strange in the sense that I was not in love with her at all but I have never experienced such intensity of affection and love from another human being. It was so intense that I was forced to get a restraining order on the advice of a friend who worked as a police captain. He was convinced that she was so attached to me that she might decide to have me around as a permanent fixture , preferably in an jar of embalming fluid.
So having advertised at least four failed attempts at love , who am I to talk about love ? Well the case that I am making is that love is complicated . I like to believe that I am of above average intellect (contrary to existing evidence), fairly sound in terms of emotional stability (my fragile ego makes me rock solid) and every one of these girls is extremely intelligent ,extraordinarily beautiful and a happy well adjusted marriage was certainly possible in each case (well in the last one, I might have had to get well adjusted to the bell jar) and yet it seems like an insurmountable task . So now that we know love is complicated , what am I driving at? My question is when we are well aware of the myriad intricacies and problems that is involved with love , why do we as a society insist on throwing monkey wrenches for well meaning people looking for love ? I am referring to those people who don’t fit our definition of “Normal” love ? Our narrow comfort zones of love usually means man-woman relationships provided they belong to the same religion , same race and in some extreme cases we even look for the same background, financially and culturally.
Brokeback mountain discusses one such case where the freedom to love is denied to our fellow human beings and trying to assert that right could cost one their life . While Brokeback Mountain is a wonderfully touching story with memorable scenes ( my friend mentioned that there were scenic backdrops of Montana though I cannot remember anything more scenic than Anne Hathaway in the backseat of the sedan) , one story that truly does bring tears to my eyes is the story of Alan Turing . Me and millions of programmers around the world owe their livelihood and everlasting gratitude to this sensitive genius who could rightly be called One of the (two )fathers of computing . Another everlasting debt that western civilization owes Turing is the fact that without him, the Allies would not have cracked the German Enigma codes as quickly as they did and the war on the European front would have lasted several more years. In the movie “The Imitation Game” , we get to see the attempts of the administration to “cure” him of his “sickness” . He proceeded to commit suicide as his hormone therapy went awry, though in my mind it is not suicide but cold blooded murder sanctioned nay mandated by a society that could not accept that homosexuality could be natural.
I was married to a southern woman for a number of years during which time , I traveled in the south (the American South East) and experienced racism first hand . There were a few times that it was impressed upon me that I should be glad for living in such enlightened times because barely 20-30 years prior , I would have been lynched for being with a white woman . In one case I was told bluntly by one of my sisters in law that I should not have children with my wife because that would be a sin in the eyes of god to bring forth a child of mixed race. In all fairness , I do not wish to provide a negative view of the south , they are an extremely hospitable people , gracious and loyal to a fault but I did find a few interesting exceptions over the years and several reminders of my “unnatural” relationship.
A friend of mine whom I have known forever has married outside her religion to a Sikh man. He is a wonderfully charming and urbane man who is a delight to talk to. I have had a few opportunities to drink with him and he is fun to be around and he is a wonderful father to their two children . Recently we had an opportunity to meet a classmate who was visiting so I drove her over to Palo Alto where he was residing and after a wonderful lunch, were driving back across the Dumbarton. I love driving over the bridges in the bay , love looking at the water and the mountains , probably the engineer in me marveling at how nature has been tamed by the ingenuity of man however that day I was busy trying to console my friend who was seething with raw fury . She had posted some family pictures with her husband and children on Facebook . Our classmate told us that he and his wife (another classmate) had seen those pictures . One of the comments that his wife had made was querying who the man in the picture was . To me that question rankled of stupidity, to my friend it rankled of insensitivity , to her it seemed like the whole concept of her being married to a Sikh man was so incongruous to people that they could not even bring themselves interpret a normal family picture of her , her husband and their children . Marriage and love is tough enough without having to endure nonsense like this.
Religion , race ,sexual orientation are not chosen by people . We are all prisoners here , prisoners of genes , social norms and pernicious traditions like religion so why does torturing our fellow human beings and denying them the basic human rights to seek happiness come so naturally? I don’t know ,which is why it is not enough to “Live and let live” , we have to transcend to “Love and let love”