Categorized | Taboo

Desis Believe in Arranged Love

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

You would think that after several years of OMNI television’s screening of the (in)famous weekly Sunday Bollywood films  that an analysis of South Asian romance would be a little less than on the verge of pathetic. Take the following as an example;

Tina Turner may have had a point in her 1984 hit single ;“What’s Love Got to Do with it”, with the genius of lyrics describing love as something that makes the pulse react, a boy meeting girl ‘opposites attract’.

(Student): OMG, I think arranged marriages are like totally unfair, and some people like have to do it like…South Asians and such as…because of their CULT-UURE—, and like they have to marry people they don’t even know—like in the Bollywood movies, like, how can you love someone you don’t even know–

(Teacher): “eh…eh…(wipes sweat off brow) remember we have to keep in mind that we need to be sensitive of other people’s culture and respectful and understanding of practices that may be different from our own.”

Now, even those with the most sadistic understanding of Bollywood films should know that the lovers who cop glances at each other from behind bushes and run circular laps on expansive lush green fields do so—why?  BECAUSE THEY ARE IN LOVE.

And despite this, someone should give all South Asians in this country a life time achievement award for spending at least half of their lives answering the question; “are you going to have a love marriage or an arranged”?

In re-assuring other’s that I too, believe that love marriages are the way to go, the mere insistence and cohesive argumentation of my response- the who (someone with similar interests), the when (in my 30s and 40s), under what circumstances (once I’m established in my career and life), elicits a somewhat uncanny defence of love- that is the arranged-ness of it all.

Yet, how does one overcome this contradiction? ‘Love’ and ‘arranged’ are opposites, the former always resisting the blueprints of the latter. But can love truly be autonomous from the constraints and expectations that we place on it?

You only need to go to a bookstore to see the different shelves that deal with the topic of love. Books and magazine headlines read the following;“ The 10 Rules of Marriage Success”, “ How to Keep your Man for more than 30 days”,  “The #1 Tip on How to Stay in Love,” “Receding waistlines add 5 years to your love life.”

Numbers, statistics, rules, tips and formulas. What else is this but love arranged.

Tina Turner may have had a point in her 1984 hit single ;“What’s Love Got to Do with it”, with the genius of lyrics describing  love as something that makes the pulse  react, a boy meeting girl ‘opposites attract’. Turner continues; “There is a name for it; a phrase that fits. It is physical, only logical. What is love but a second hand emotion? “

Like Tina, I do feel that the rationalizations and formulations of love are not unwarranted. In trying to realize the relevance of an amorphous concept like ‘love’, all of us tend to bring it down to life size, and in doing so we try to give it a shape, and make it into something that fits our visions of reality.

And despite this, I feel that it is the nature of love to resist the cohesiveness of what we expect from it. Love doesn’t fit in numbers, it doesn’t fit well with the 5 W’s of what, when, where, why and who. And it most definitely doesn’t rest in bookshelves.

So maybe we can start asking different questions, more than just the ones that bounce between arranged and love marriages. Perhaps we can ask ourselves; “are we going to have love arranged”?

Having said all of this, I know that I for one, cannot distance myself from these manuals, statistics, songs, poems, literature that expose our centuries old preoccupation with love. In fact, it only rightfully shows how ‘love’ is truly a thing that we will never understand.

Peter Gabriel said it best when he said; “ the book of love is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing, it’s full of charts, facts, figures and instructions for dancing.  But I love it when you read to me, you can read me anything.”

Author: Sana Hashmi

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