March 8, 2007, Mumbai: Everyday, when my son goes to school, after a few quick games of stone-paper-scissor with me while we wait together at his school bus, I find myself saying, “Enjoy yourself! Have fun!” rather than “Take care.”
I grew up hearing my folks saying, “Take care” in several different ways. I don’t remember ever hearing them say, “Enjoy yourself” to me, or to each other, when we went out.
Methinks these are signs of the changing times. Looking around on the iLand, and chatting with my iLand friends, I find that happily married people — both men and women — are now looking for intimate friends of the opposite sex, and seeking to somehow infuse fresh colours in their happy but monotonous lives. Through their poems and musings, I hear them saying,“There must be more to life than being normal and settled, and bringing up the children. I want that now… and even at the risk of being thought of as a ‘bad-character’.”
Increasing numbers of people are more than willing to put the ‘respectable’ facade of their existence at risk to be able to go explore. Explore what? They — or rather, we — don’t know yet.
I think this is not merely about hedonism, adultery and the adrenaline rush of online intimacy. This is not merely about the uncontrollable urges of mid-life crisis, menopause or the empty-nest syndrome. This is about all of these things, but there is more…
There is an a spiritual seeking going on here — an unwillingness to continue living comfortable lies. There is a widespread urge to seek out and confront uncomfortable truths, rather than suppressing them.
I see in my generation a desire to LIVE LIFE KINGSIZE. I hear us roaring out together, YEH DIL MAANGEY MORE! And no, it ain’t about mere ciggies and soft drinks.
There is an urban rebellion brewing, Ladies & Gentlemen. You can hear it in the music of our times, the new national anthems, “Beedi jalai ley jigar se piya… Jigar ma badi aag hai.” Do you feel the heat?
Some ancient bastions of society are about to fall, my friends. They are already crashing in our minds, and in these fast-forward times, the time lag between mindspace to real life can be counted in merely months.
So expect a public debate on the meaning of marriage, of normalcy and of respectability, to break out within a few months. This debate will be carried out in actions, my friends, and not only in headlines and soundbites.
Expect some really respectable folks to speak up for a liberalization that will make India’s post-1991 economic reforms seem tame by comparison — liberalizing the institution of marriage.
Because my generation is coming to see that life is no longer about taking care, about preserving thestatus quo of marriage.
We are saying, with our actions, that life is about having fun, about expressing ourselves and uninhibitedly being ourselves as individuals, as couples, as friends, and as a culture that is self-affirming, as opposed to self-negating and self-suppressing.
The initial chain reaction of this is just beginning to rumble here in blogspace, emailspace, chatspace. But the nuclear explosion that is to result will rock the world that we all live, eat, sleep and commute in.
Tighten your seat-belts, Ladies and Gentlemen, and brace to meet your future — a future full of uncertainties, and overflowing with possibilities. There will be no easy answers, and no prescriptions for a ‘happily ever after’. There will only be ‘the path less trodden by’.God Bless. God bless us all.