It happened during the shoot of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna in New York. On the rare day off from shooting, I found myself alone, strolling the streets of Manhattan, my mind momentarily numb from the weight of the scenes I had shot. I was grappling with all the questions posed in the film; adultery, compatibility, compromise and monogamy.
While reflecting on the heavies in my mind, I caught the reflection of my solemn face in the window of a Kenneth Cole shop. I stopped and stared for a while, when suddenly something caught my eye and had me riveted.
Most of you will be able to identify with this moment, a moment where time stands still but your heart beats faster than you’d ever imagined. You suddenly find all your answers, the clouds hovering over your head dissipate and it’s just you and your object of affection.
I followed my instincts, grasped the cold, metal handle of the door and swung it with full force, my sole aim to seize the sight on the other end of the window. In that moment I understood the meaning of monogamy.
It’s been almost five years since that moment and while I’m still fiercely loyal to the Kenneth Cole shirts I picked up that day, I have to admit, my perspective has changed. Now I find myself torn, spoilt for choice and unable to commit to any one style.
I’m talking about clothes here, an amiable appetizer to the topic at hand; are we monogamous, and does monogamy even exist? Is it possible to love one thing alone, without ever slipping or giving into temptation?
This column isn’t about fidelity, but while we’re on it, I think a very small percentage can truly claim to be faithful to their partners. We’re all cheaters of some kind, hungry for what we don’t have, desirous of everything anyone else has.
This column is about the dastardly “M” word. It is believed that if you consider yourself to be monogamous, then getting married and staying faithful should be the most natural thing to do. But four years later when you tell me about your impending divorce, do I then consider you to be an ex monogamist? Does such a thing even exist?
Here’s the thing about monogamy; it’s a social convention, built on a system that believes in the sanctity of marriage. Being monogamous leaves no room for extra marital affairs, open relationships, and definitely, no swinging! Monogamy was considered natural because having multiple partners wasn’t an option hundreds of years ago. Of course, it was <always> an option, and history has told countless tales of infidelity and polygamy, but now with prenuptial agreements, divorce lawyers and marriage counselors becoming household terms, monogamy may as well bow out.
It’s all very idyllic, this notion that two people will be able to survive together, happily ever after. To believe that, no matter what, you will find a way to stay together seems less likely as we continue to evolve. The reasons to stay in a marriage have narrowed down to the extent that even staying together for the sake of the children, or financial comfort no longer apply. Today, couples can make it work just as successfully apart as they can together.
I’m not endorsing divorce or separation nor do I condone any extra marital impulses you may act on after reading this. I applaud those who have managed to keep the sanctity, fidelity, and sanity of this institution intact in our rapidly progressing country. But on this very topic, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. I want to hear from a man who has two wives, and from someone who believes in soul mates and relationships that transcend lifetimes. So, please send all your impassioned comments my way because I really want to know; is it possible, even natural to love more than one person at the same time, and if so, where do we go from there?