Muahs aren’t magical anymore. They’re all over the place — if not on Page 3, on IM, SMS and Facebook; if not superfluously scattered at frosty family functions, shared freely among colleagues who’d gladly dig their claws instead. One may argue that a kiss has been employed around the world as a casual form of greeting, but its adoption in today’s world has got out of hand. It must be curbed. Aesthetically, morally, hygienically, even functionally, it has been degraded to a social cliché.
Today it is not only the theatrical sort who cry “Darling!” at plush restaurants and assault you with kisses. Everybody does it. Meet for a coffee at the corner café, and it starts and ends with kisses. Run into your next-door neighbour at the supermarket, and you’re likely to get a smacker.
“Even 4-year-olds greet their friends with kisses. When they grow up and kiss their partner, it will not remain special anymore,” warns Dr Pallavi Barthakur Gillani, a relationship counsellor. Here, the heritage of the kiss might help put a stop to its indiscriminate proliferation.
It was history’s most notorious moment of betrayal when the traitor Judas kissed his master Jesus in the garden. A kiss is not something to be given lightly, or even light-heartedly. It has to it the quality of a pledge, together with intimations of destiny. When the clergyman says to the bridegroom “you may now kiss the bride”, he is (or should be) inviting them to remember Judas, and seal their own solemn promise with the very talisman of trust, a kiss.
In high art, too, the symbolical power of the kiss has often expressed itself. The Kiss was the title Auguste Rodin gave to his iconic celebration of love’s meaning — two people in the ultimate embrace of embraces, physical sex and mental emotion transcendentally united in erotica. Gustav Klimt painted The Kiss, too, but in his version the lovers had actually become part of the kiss themselves, transformed by its golden sensuality.
But for most of us, it’s just “Wow! Haven’t seen you for ages” — and plonk, lands the inevitable devil. There is no nobility to it — and of all the human gestures — the kiss from the heart, the kiss of conviction, the kiss of true love — of all the signs we humans make to one to another, the Kiss, with a capital K, is surely the noblest of all. Dumb down your humour, if you like, trivialise your bedroom sex, but give your kisses the grand mystical respect they warrant.
(with inputs from Navdeep K Marwah)