In any part of the world, falling in love is an act that is tender and soft but in India, it is a rebellion. To love in India without care about its social structures is brave. I wish India becomes a country of those who are brave.
-Gurmehar Kaur, The Young and Restless
Love is possibly one expression which represents so many things, from sentimental Bollywood representations to an abstract religious symbolism, that it is absolutely impossible to explain it. It is a paradox. Describing love is indescribable.
But in India, love is an extremely rigid institution that requires individuals to operate within the confines of the same class, religion, caste and community.
While the poets, philosophers and thinkers relentlessly languished in their search to understand and find love, we are drawing lines to find a bond worth seven lifetimes. It seems more like a financial bond transaction than an act as complex as love. Given the circumstances, is it really possible to love? Love; that is limitless and unbounded, can it be predefined and limited? This is a reflection on the absolute impossibility to love in India without going against its socio-cultural fabric.
In The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy mentions the Love Laws: “the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much”.
Ammu (an upper caste Syrian Christian) and Velutha (lower caste Paravan) break these love laws and are punished for this transgression. Despite their suffering, they succeed in subduing the social structures that confine love within the sociocultural exegesis. As the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has cleared a draft ordinance against love jihad, there is a sense that these love laws which Roy refers to in her novel are no more being laid silently but loudly with state backing and legal enforcements. And just like Ammu and Velutha, anyone who dares to love will be punished.
This makes one ponder over why the state is so hell-bent upon regulating and controlling something as tender and personal as love. The famous Big Brother in George Orwell’s classic dystopia of 1984 sees love as a form of resilience that threatens its totalitarian regime. Any kind of individual emotion is thus a divergence from enabling this monolithic structure. Through its control of marriages and sexual mores, the Big Brother wields the power to control people’s loyalties towards itself.
Love in itself is a rebellion. When Julia passes a love note to Winston, it is the first sign of rebellion against the Big Brother. The reason why those in power wish to confine it is that love is the only possible way to dismantle a loveless state that operates on hate and bigotry. Love threatens the very foundation of this hegemonic social organisation. In these difficult times, to love is not only a personal choice but a radical act to subdue the structures that otherwise intend to limit us. If individual freedom and choice are the end-goals, crossing lines by breaking the love laws in love is the only way to make that possible.