Love in the times of hate politics. Gurmehar Kaur writes on dating trysts with political opponents
“It was a beautiful summer afternoon when I saw him for the first time walking up the stairs of the exhibition hall with a few of his friends,”said my 20-year old friend, feminist-liberal friend.
“His impressive height, orange Fab India kurta, boyish charm and a razorsharp jawline making him stand out amongst the more average looking boys of his MUN team. The moment he smiled I knew that I would happily spend the rest of my life conjuring up jokes to make sure it never leaves his face ever again.
I think it was the Abhay Deol-like dimple on the left side of his right cheek. It was a start to what could have been the most beautiful love story that had taken place in the halls of LSR after ShahRukh-Gauri and Mira-Shahid. But then, life happened” she sighed.
“What happened” I asked, quickly scribbling notes.
“We chatted over WhatsApp while also maintaining a Snapchat streak for 3 months when I found out what I now wish I hadn’t found out,” her shoulders slumped, she took a deep breath to find her composure.
“I was in Mumbai for the global citizen Coldplay concert. I sent him pictures of the arena and the stage. It was all fun and games till he sent me a text saying she is lucky to be watching Modi speech live. In my adrenaline-induced haze quickly typed back “I know right? I wish it wasn’t there, we wouldn’t have to stand in the heat for 30 extra minutes.” But, then I realized he actually meant it.
I sent a few SOS texts to our mutual friends. It turned out he was total-RSS. “How did you not find figure it out, he wears an orange kurta for all important events!?”
She spent the whole week screaming, complaining, occasionally scarily laughing and tagging me in existentialist relationship memes.
On Valentine’s Day, I really wanted to write about something that wasn’t related to student politics but just students. I walked around in my college with a black notebook and a blue pen asking my friends to talk to me about their dating life and how much of their political leanings and preferences play a role, if at all, in their choice of partner.
“I never texted him again after that,” my friend said with a shudder, like the worst thing she could’ve done was be seen with a boy from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
We tend to surround ourselves with people who share our own tastes and choices. It was no surprise that most of my friends shared my politics to an extent.
I was curious to know how they, as liberal-feminist-young women, navigate the dating world. Can the personal (life) and the political (opinion) be separated? Is the personal political? Is the political personal? That 1960’s feminist and student movement’s war cry rang in my ears.
“I don’t think I’m that stringent. As long as the other person is smart enough to provide a valid and thought-provoking argument in favour of their preferred political party or leader even if I happen to absolutely hate it. I will still be thrilled at the fact that there are people who care about and are aware about the state of politics in the country. Plus Akshay and Twinkle make it work and look so easy, so that shouldn’t be a such big deal breaker.”
Another liberal feminist friend is dating a guy who is a huge Trump supporter. His unfiltered comments constantly give rise to awkward moments when they hang out with her friends. For some reason, it just clicked. She says its exciting or interesting to be with somebody who has a different opinion to give.
Our group of three had now swelled into seven. The one with a choppy bob rolled her eyes and declared “Men suck, we should all just date women!” And we broke into laughter. “Don’t forget 377”, came an immediate response and more laughter followed.
It’s true that nothing in the world is apolitical and especially not love. In a country that criminalises homosexuality, kills and cages in the name of love-jihad, has anti-Romeo squads on the streets to weed out dating couples – how can we and our love be apolitical?
There was an element of simplicity in this conversation, even though it touched upon hot-button politics of the day. In the end, it was just a bunch of teenagers sitting on the grass during lunchbreak talking about our ideas of love in times of hate. When loving and living freely has become so difficult.
Would I have wanted all my friends to collectively agree that we would never want to open our lives and hearts to someone with a different ideology? May be. But the more we spoke about it, the more I realised that there are too many labels, boxes in the name of caste, religion, gender, class already. When it comes to falling in love, we really do not need a new binary of political ideology to separate us more. Love has to fix what’s broken. So why complicate that?
“You didn’t tell us about your take on it, Gurmehar,” my friend asked as I picked up my bag.
“My heart broke and shattered into a million pieces when Randeep Hooda — every Punjabi girl’s childhood crush — said mean things to me on Twitter,” I said. “I don’t think I have recovered from that.”
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