This Valentine’s Day in India was a horrible day for the CRPF jawans killed in their trucks by a suicide bomber. As the jawans trundled down those mountainous paths in the rickety old buses, crowding against each other, one wonders if there had been Valentine’s Day plans for all those young people and their loved ones back at their homes. Did some have internet video calls with their sweethearts earlier that day, or were planning to talk later in the day? Did others long to have a sweetheart or were just starting?
They certainly wouldn’t have anticipated that a 22-year old would ram an explosive-laden car into their convoy, killing all of them. Whether it be through such horribly violent terrorist attacks, or like earlier in the month by the crash of a test flight of an upgraded Mirage flight that killed squadron leaders Samir Abrol and Siddhartha Negi in HAL, Bangalore, and hundreds more over the years, both in times of war and in times of relative peace, love can and does come to an abrupt end for so many of our people in the armed forces. Just in the last five years, we have seen many pilots lose their lives to aircraft crashes, ambushed CRPF jawans massacred in the heartland, terrorist attacks in multiple pockets on our borders, even one of our air bases.
What does one do if their loved one is so suddenly, violently and cruelly snatched away? For those losing a loved one in the armed forces, seeing their loved one come back draped in the national flag and knowing the violent end they met, how does one even begin to deal with it?
Loss is hard enough, and harder still when one is left loving someone who has so suddenly disappeared, and so violently at that. Loving someone is also learning to live with the fear of loss, especially in lines of service that are so exposed to mortality.
On this Valentine’s Day, the preciousness of this love, the awareness of its fragility and the pervasiveness of the fear of losing it gets driven home to not just those immediately connected with the jawans who lost their lives, but also for everyone else. We all take that hit for a second, and feel the pain of losing someone we love. We empathize with their families and loved ones, because we all share that fear of losing someone we love. We know how dreadful it is to even imagine such loss, and how we go through our loved lives imagining ourselves far from such tragedy and yet it strikes so close to home, and so often.
The beauty of such love is not so much in its eternal life, as much as it is in loving anyway despite the fear of loss, despite its fragility. We love even more knowing that it is precious and maybe we will ask more from those we can hold responsible to keep this love safe for Valentine’s Day and all the other days.
As written for and published in the New Indian Express
Elections are coming in a few weeks, and soon, campaigning will pick up steam. Already, it is in every news channel and unless all you watch in your home is Netflix or ongoing soaps on your favourite TV channels, you are likely being bombarded with the pre-campaign propaganda from all channels.
Elections in India have always been such a grand spectacle, full of colour, volume and expression. Every political party brings out their flags, symbols and colours so prominently, and there is so much noise around it - not just in terms of the debates, but also the special songs and in recent years, even stand-up comedy!
It really is difficult to not notice, and whether you like it or not, you probably are talking about politics already with friends, colleagues and social media. Reluctantly or otherwise, you are likely being pulled into debates, and even if you have temporarily unfollowed most political pages on your social media feed, it probably seeps through everywhere.
The general commentary in most circles seem to hold familial units as insular in their political affiliation. There is talk of vote banks and sweeping assessments of how certain populations vote one way and others another. Yet, as a country, we have major political dynasties and even though most continue in the same lineage, there are often diametrically opposing shifts across and even within generations. A parent might be centrist while the child is right-wing, or vice-versa. There are differences of opinion and convictions everywhere. Very few couples with major political rifts though.
The question is: Do you talk about your politics with your beloved? Do you both agree on the politics or do you defer? How does that affect your relationship?
One supposes that if political viewpoints really converge, it quite likely is fairly comforting in a couple, but when political opinions differ widely within the couple, is it really a recipe for disaster?
Politics takes on a much larger sheen than say, movies. A couple could laugh over their different opinions on which actor each thinks is a greater star, but politics doesn’t often get that amused tolerance. Politics takes on a brighter, sharper hue because it is often seen as a direct reflection of one’s core values. If you are on one side, you are standing for, say, secularism, tolerance, liberal attitudes, eco-friendliness and the other side stands for a different set, maybe, pride, heritage, prosperity.
The political affiliation becomes a proxy for all the values one has, and in an intimate relationship, knowing your partner supports a party you are opposed to can be a particularly hard perspective to accommodate. You might find yourself wondering if you really knew this person, or how much they have changed. The arguments can get personal very quickly, because the political is almost always personal as well.
What’s the way out then?
Well, that’s the whole reason for the ballot being secret! You get to choose how much you disclose of your political position, even to your beloved.
The political affiliation becomes a proxy for all the values one has, and in an intimate relationship, knowing your partner supports a party you are opposed to can be a particularly hard perspective to accommodate. You might find yourself wondering if you really knew this person, or how much they have changed.
As written for and published in The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.