I love silently watching my parents when they are together.
My mother does her chores in the kitchen and my father stands there, cracking jokes about her weight or pulling her cheeks. He often succeeds in getting her pissed, so that he can appease her, later, with more jokes about her weight and kisses on her cheek. It is a beautiful sight.
But had I not witnessed these, they would not have been believable sights. Can a man who is so disciplined that he has never missed a sunrise in his life, and despises desserts, romantic movies and travelling, ever fall for a woman who hates jogging and cannot control her urge for buying jewellery, all of which look exactly the same? Can a woman who is extremely sentimental and loves gardening, fall for a man who does not believe in buying roses, even on Valentine’s Day? Had I not witnessed these, I wouldn’t have believed them, at all.
It surprises me because I know the type of men I like and I fail to tolerate even a mild sign of digression. My perfect man should be a connoisseur of art-house films, have libertarian views regarding public policy and should not be a teetotaller, for sure. He should be okay with first-date kisses, talkative women and my vehement hatred for religions. But most importantly, our reading lists should match, when it comes to books about world history, at least.
When I started looking for the perfect man, what surprised me more was the fact that there were too many of them. All so kind, with hearts so big that they could gather the soul of a woman easily. We talked about everything – from college education to Donald Trump, how to trek the Everest or how we interpreted “Forrest Gump”. However, during every date, we reached a moment where we ran out of topics we’d prepared to talk about (just like the empty whiskey glasses). Thereafter, the ‘looking-into-each-other’s-eyes’ bit was so awkward that we had to kiss, so that we didn’t have to talk to one another.
Whenever I was dropped off at my place, I used to watch his car drifting away in the fog to places I would never bother to visit, and wonder if the problem was with the perfect men, or with me. Or, was it just the sad state of affairs?
I used to stare at the empty roads – wide and smooth, but empty just like my life. During such moments, my mind wandered to the times when I was in school – when everything was much easier, because political opinions were yet to be formed and the taste of music did not matter much. Getting a glimpse of each other in the morning assembly was enough to get you through the day; sharing a tiffin box was sure evidence that you could share your lives with each other and the only affordable dating place was the evening tuition place, where you talked through messages written on bits of paper that you later planned on saving for the rest of your future. What happened in between those times when eyes meeting in a crowd was enough to make the day memorable for years – and today, where you forget people the very next day even after having made love to them?
We live in interesting times where we can still afford to love people living in different cities and marry after the testing rituals of dating and living-in. But what happened to the butterflies in the stomach, and where are the first kisses in abandoned staircases, which had no expertise but were the most promising? Where are the withered rose buds pressed between old books treasured in the most secretive corners? Flirting skills, cosmetics and sharp intellect are all there – but where is the chemistry, the holding of hands in crowded buses that almost felt like some kind of vow? Where is the vulnerability that made you feel warm, instead of sticky and sweaty, on nights you spent with a random lover? So many Tinder dates – and yet, all we are looking for is someone who can look at us in an old-school way – just like married couples look at each other while washing dishes in the kitchen.
The more we come closer, the lesser we realise that being connected through networks is not the ‘connection’ we are looking for. The long-distance problem has been solved, but what about the unyielding lack of time? The acceptance of promiscuity has made us bolder – but what to make of a boldness that is not making us emotionally open to people?
This abundance of ‘perfect’ men means nothing if we are too lazy to make efforts – the effort of taking the conversation forward after the whiskey glasses empty, to know about how your partner was raised as a child, what they seek happiness in or how much space they can give you in life. Or the effort of taking time off to walk you back home. Or the effort of looking beyond someone’s sexuality, or at looking at the kind of happiness which even money can’t buy.
I guess the best way to deal with modern-day relationships is the way they dealt with arranged marriages. To not waste time to think if there was a more compatible man out there, to feel that every fight is the right time to wash your hands off someone, or to think of apologies as being too precious to be spent too frequently. I guess we all need to learn how to hold on, and not think of the options to leave…
So that for once, we can make the holding of hands mean something, and kiss someone only when our heart is brimming with love and not just to fill the silence. So that the next time we see how much our parents are in love, we have a co-witness who can help to make the sight a little more believable!