A recently released movie called Dum Laga Ke Haisha set me thinking about a lot of things – beauty, love, discrimination, prejudice, bias. Not that the movie is preachy or anything. It’s a sweet, charming film but it quietly manages to linger in your mind and trigger off some ‘thoughts’.
The movie, set in the 1990s, is about a small town shopkeeper who is made to marry an educated, rotund girl who he is embarrassed to have as his wife. The girl is unapologetic about her size and, as the movie progresses, her husband comes to reexamine his prejudice and transitions to, well, not thinking of her as a burden and in fact… Okay, I don’t want to give away too much in case you’re planning to see it.
Oh, what the hell, yes he does end up loving her. Well, actually even the trailer kind of lets that out so it shouldn’t spoil the movie for you.
So the point I was making was that love happens amongst the most unlikely pairs of humans sometimes, doesn’t it? We all have friends married to people who don’t ‘look’ like they were ‘made for each other’ or appear to be like ‘peas in a pod’ for that matter. There are enough examples of famous people who have had, what you might call ‘unsuitable’ attractions and relationships. Heard about Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the US) and a slave called Sally http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Hemings )?
Just because two people would never qualify for an ideal couple prize doesn’t mean they’re not happy together. That stuff is decided inside, between the ears. Where the chemicals that swirl around in our brains, and bodies, decide the tune we will dance to.
No amount of media manipulation of our ideals of beauty can match the force of these chemicals, if you ask me. No number of honour killings and khap panchayat edicts can stop these hormones. No language barriers can keep lovers apart.
So why, has humankind throughout history tried its hardest to separate, segregate, isolate people from crossing society’s artifical lines and meeting their soulmates? Why is it so important to maintain racial purity, like Hitler tried? Why is inter-caste marriage such an issue? Why is love between two people of the same gender a problem in this day and age?
All this when the human species definitely does not need to worry about its propagation or dominance in the world. In fact, science has shown that intermingling of genes makes us better able to fight illnesses!
So why are we, as a species, constantly seeking to draw lines to separate us from each other? I’m a man, you’re a woman. I’m Pakistani, you’re Indian. I’m Hindu, you’re Muslim. I’m Catholic, you’re Protestant. I’m older, you’re younger. I’m fit, you’re fat.
It’s so easy to build bias, I think because we’re seeking to feel good about ourselves, even at the expense of others. So we quickly turn a point of difference into a point of superiority, conveniently!
If only we could spot bias building up in us and nip it in the bud like we do for other unacceptable impulses of ours. If only we see that meeting, mingling and even finding a mate who is not like us is better – it opens us to newer perspectives, newer ideas, and newer, stronger gene combinations too.
Which is why I thought that what America’s Ad Council did on Valentine’s Day in the USA (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnDgZuGIhHs )was such a great idea – it showed us that we are all just humans. And humans should love humans, not hate them just because they’re not totally like them on the outside.
Truly, love recognises no labels. And thank god medicine has no cure for love!