The romance of unrequited love is universal, and has given birth to great works of art. The reality, however, is getting darker by the hour. With crimes of passion on the rise, Nona Walia wonders why rejection in love is just not an option anymore.
Boy promises to love girl forever and vice-versa. Boy and girl become man and woman. The woman moves to the larger world and outgrows old love. Man doesn't, and chases her till... let's leave it right there. The plot of Raanjhanaa, Bollywood's recent release, could be anyone's story. Heartbreak, just as love, is a part of life, and the feeling is universal. Poets and writers have come up with their best characters — from Romeo-Juliet to Heer-Ranjha, from Devdas-Paro to Sydney Carton-Lucie Manette — and most heartfelt works of art, when they have told the story of love's longing and sacrifice rather than its fulfilment.
Purnendu Shekhar, the scriptwriter for Balika Vadhu on TV, explains why unrequited love will always be worshipped, "Love fulfilled would be such a drudgery. I can't imagine Laila-Majnu getting married. Unrequited love is forever, the passion never fades away. Incomplete love has that kasak, that desire, that longing. Pain is such a bittersweet ache. Love that goes through its course results in disillusionment. That's why all legendary love stories are about unrequited love."
However, the recent reality seems to be more violent than this romantic notion. Newspapers and television are full of reports on cases of stalking, harassment, throwing acid, suicide, even murder... all out of love, fear of losing love, or humiliation after being rejected.
Poor life skills
It's almost impossible to escape unreciprocated love at least once in life. American evolutionary psychologist David M Buss, while researching for his book, The Dangerous Passion, said, "Only one person in 20 has never experienced unrequited love."
But as romantic as the concept is on the pages of a book or on screen, the reality of late has been eliciting violent responses. Says 24-year-old Ooraj Kumar, "I was rejected by the girl I loved when I was 13, and I was devastated. I followed her, hacked her social media accounts, gave her blank calls, till I realised I was going crazy. Many of my friends, who are girls, have threatened to kill themselves when a boy has rejected them. It's like nobody can hear a 'no'." Dr Kanika Khandelwal, professor of psychology at Lady Sri Ram College, New Delhi, explains why, "Any kind of rejection — minor or major — is magnified for this generation because they hardly face it while g r ow i n g up." Author Ravinder Singh, who wrote Can Love Happen Twice?, says, "It's about love at first 'like', not love for the youth. You don't have to meet someone physically to fall in love. Romance is just a click away." And when that love isn't reciprocated at a click of a button, all hell breaks loose.
Mythological appeal of viraha
Director Mahesh Bhatt explains unrequited love from a mythological perspective, "Viraha (the longing in separation) is an integral part of Indian mythology. It has been celebrated from the time of Kalidas. When love is not reciprocated, it gives rise to masterpieces like Devdas, The Great Gatsby and also real-life tragedies, which become the life blood of the love narrative."
Bhakti theology from where the concept of viraha has emerged, is about pining for God's love. By that definition, this kind of love is always mutual. Because even if the believer doesn't see God, he or she does not stop believing in God. Perhaps the human mind's inability to move on from the person he/she loves, lies in a similar devotion.
Writer Anil Dharker also believes that obsessive love, as dangerous as it is, lends itself to great writing and cinema. "The elements of pathos in a one-sided love story have tremendous pull. Haven't we all heard the saying, 'The sweetest songs are those that tell the saddest tales?'"
Pathos, a sexy art form
Actor Dhanush's character, Kundan in Raanjhanaa, is love's new poster boy because somewhere deep down we all believe that love not answered is love never lost, even if we don't get the girl or the boy.
But what happens when the pain brings out the devil in people? Hatred and jealousy after all, are different sides of the same coin called love. Moreover, popular culture glamorises this dark nature of love. Pathos has become a sexy art form for today's youth, even though the reality is hard to accept.
Acclaimed late author Elle Newmark wrote in, The Book of Unholy Mischief, "Unrequited love does not die; it's only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled up and wounded. For some unfortunates, it turns bitter and mean."
But however romantic pining may be, it doesn't appeal to everyone. London-based writer Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal believes unrequited love appeals most to those who have never truly experienced love. "It's a fantasy that chimes with the longings of fantasists, who think that love will solve their failings and lift their lives above the mundane. It appeals to those who are afraid of reality. The truth is far more brutal," he says.
For the click-it-solve-it generation, perhaps the truth is a little too brutal to handle.
Even the rejecter understands the pain of saying 'no'. Lie low, continue to be nice. You'll be able to deal with the pain better, with time.
Get your self-esteem back. Someone rejecting your love doesn't mean he/she doesn't think much of you. It just means the person doesn't feel romantically inclined. That's it.
Become creative. Write about your heartbreak. But don't wear it on your sleeve all the time.
Instead of focussing all your energy on winning your intended over, learn to focus on yourself. Getting hurt is a part of life. Go out, have fun, make new friends.
Destructive behaviour will not help you get back on track. Vent to someone you trust. It helps.
READ THIS, WATCH THAT BOOKS
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope: Roger Carbury loves his cousin Hetta and offers her his hand. She likes him, but does not love him. She loves his best friend.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: It's a tale of scorned love. Pip's infatuated with a coldhearted beauty, Estella, who never returns his affection.
Twelfth Night by Shakespeare: Orsino loves Olivia but she couldn't be less interested. He has to learn that his passion is self-indulgent folly.
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah: This isn't a love story but one of its sub plots is unrequited love. The painful portrayal makes it a must-read.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: This classic tale of love, rejection and revenge keeps you riveted till the very end.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam: A husband pining for the love of his wife decides to unite her with her former lover.
Devdas to Dev D: An ode to India's bestknown unrequited love story between Devdas and Paro. From Bimal Roy, to Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Anurag Kashyap, take your pick.
Fatal Attraction: A one-night stand becomes a married man's worst nightmare.
Wicker Park: An intriguing love story about a young Chicago advertising executive looking for his lost love.
WHY 'NO' ISN'T AN OPTION FOR THIS GENERATION
"The socio-economic structure of our society today has maximised the availability of freedom and increased the quantum of desire. So expectations are also sky high. Young people find it difficult to accept hard reality because their mind has one kind of script while real life is another plot altogether. In their minds, these kids are heroes; and in real life, if they fail, they think they will be seen as a joke. That's the problem." — Shiv Visvanathan, sociologist...
Sourse : Times of India