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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7 Comments Share Your Views

7 COMMENTS

  1. The author may be right on many counts but assessment of the “anti-Romeo squads on the streets to weed out dating couples” is ill conceived. The faulty implementation of the campaign by some police personnel may have caused harassment of some genuine dating couples but main objective of the campaign was to stop the eve-teasing which perhaps causes even bigger harassment.

  2. Hey .. just a question.. somebody clarify please… Is the author same person who said “Pakistan did not kill my father but war did” ( or something along those lines ).. if so, when did she get rights to preach to the world .. looks like every one has something to say this world .. .. I used to give some credibility to these journalists ( or people who writes the articles ) .. but now every tom dick harry can write and preach to the world it seems

  3. Honestly, I don’t feel the hate around which you are talking about. I am roaming freely with the person I love and I don’t even care what is her political preference and nor do I reveal/impose the same on her. It is not the side you choose to be in, but the deeds you do that matters.
    Love is always apolitical. It is you who love politics and thus cannot separate your political ideologies from your relationships. Otherwise, when you love someone, it doesn’t come in between. There lies the question, how to do you love someone with opposite political ideology? Well, not only political, be it any opinion, how do you love someone whose opinions differ from yours? Either you both reach a common consensus through logic and reason or you cling on to your opinion, respecting the right of the other to cling on to his. But, you are anti-Sanghi, perhaps.
    Now I don’t know if this article is more stupid or funny. First you fall in love looking at his handsome face and then you complain the time and environment as full of hatred, and thus it is your unfortunate, that you could not be with him? Tharki bahno, shakal pe jaoge to aur kya ummid karte ho? Had you fallen in love by knowing him and his ideologies, then probably, if something or someone stopped you from being together, situations could be blamed. You talk about intelligent argument. How do you know that your argument is intelligent and correct? Because your friends agree on that? Because another bunch of people agree on that? Well, this can’t be. All of you maybe wrong. The way you think about Sanghis, Sanghis may be thinking the same about you. (I am neither rightist nor leftist.) To be honest, this reminds of my friends who crush on a cute girl and later find out they are silly. Hence, they backoff.
    Imagine all those guys who had crushed upon you at a time. If they start writing a story that you are liberal leftist and hence they cannot think of falling for you anymore, how silly it would have sounded.
    And about “we should date girls”. Be specific that those girls who share the same mindset as you do. There are numerous girls out there you are going to dislike, hate and cannot stand.
    This is a stupid post and I am wasting my time writing this comment, the reason is: I smell a sense of self-superiority in this post. Your ideologies are correct, your perceptions are correct and you are looking down on Trump-following and Sanghis.
    This attitude needs to be changed. Being liberal gives you the freedom to choose, but not to undermine others’ choices. Had your respected that guy’s admiration for Modi and choice for RSS, you need not write this post.

  4. Honestly Gurmehar. Please self introspect. You say that right wing is intolerant and all. Are you and ur leftists tolerant first?Both right and left are the same. They feed on each other and exist coz of each other.
    So what ur trying to say is any girl from left should be careful not to get involved with guys with different mindset? Now isn’t that similar to parents saying don’t mingle with people from other religion. It’s pretty much the same and u claim to be secular, liberal and tolerant with this sort of view.
    Do u really think all that is left is holy and all that is right is evil? Before u brand me as bhakth, This might sound cliche but I’m totally against right and left coz both are pretty much the same intolerant brigade. For me bjp bhakths=CONgress clowns=Lame leftists.
    I just like millions tweeted you asking what exactly did u mean with “Pakistan did not kill my father but war did”. I understand u can’t reply to everyone on twitter but please just let me know what that infamous sentence meant. I’m lost on that still. Please reply here. Print team please kindly ask Gurmehar to clarify that. There are somethings which haunt you and this has been haunting me ever since. Please Gurmehar reply.

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