Being in love is often a warm and fuzzy feeling. The chance meeting, fleeting glances and butterflies in the stomach are synonymous with love. But what if this love is forbidden? What if one finds love outside marriage? That’s exactly what bestselling author Ravinder Singh’s new book, This Love that Feels Right, deals with. The book has two women protagonists, Naina and Manvika, who look at love and marriage from completely different perspectives. While Naina comes from a conservative family, Manvika, a media person, is in an open marriage. Naina falls in love with a man, who’s not her husband. The book opens up a debate on the perception of illicit affairs. “I am not taking a stand for or against extramarital affairs. I simply want to talk about it,” says Singh, often tagged as the King of Romance. “I am not advocating open marriage. My only point is that we shouldn’t judge and condemn people who opt to be in an open marriage,” adds Singh, who himself is happily married. In a candid chat with HT City, the author, who was in Kolkata recently, talks about his book, extramarital affairs and the short film, The Dinner that has been made especially to promote the book.
Do you really believe monogamy is overrated?
I think people are hypocritical about it (monogamy). That’s my point. I wouldn’t say that it’s outdated or overrated. People say I am a one-woman man or vice versa, but it doesn’t appear to be a realistic picture when there are 13 million people from 22 countries on a website called Ashley Madison. I by default believe that humans are polygamous in nature. It’s perfectly fine if they are happy in such arrangements or want to make new arrangements. My only point is not to condemn them simply because they want to exercise a different kind of freedom.
What about cheating then?
(Cuts in) The point of an open marriage is to do away with cheating. Open marriage means you are not hiding anything. Open marriage is the justification and if it’s the other way round (if one is in a traditional marriage) you are committing a sin if you are cheating.
You mean the trust is broken?
It depends on how you define trust. If you define trust as your spouse can’t think of anyone except you, then of course the trust will be broken. What is adultery, where do you then draw the line? Is it dating someone, sleeping with someone, watching a movie or having a cup of coffee? Or is it thinking about someone else the moment you wake up? I can stop my spouse from having coffee with someone but how can I cage her mind. If my expectation is that only I should be there in her thoughts, it’s practically impossible. My point is that simply because we are uncomfortable with it, we don’t talk about the issue. I want to talk about this issue and that’s what I am trying to do through this book.
Have you ever been tempted to cheat?
(Laughs) Tempted to cheat? Yes.
If one finds love outside marriage, then how do you justify pursuing that relationship?
The question is what you let go and what you gain in return. If you are asking is cheating is justified, then my answer will always be no. It’s difficult to step into the shoes of a man or a woman and try to understand how depressed, uncomfortable or unsatisfied they are in their marriage. And if these people find love outside marriage and decide to cheat to satisfy that need, perhaps I would have done the same in their case. But if I find myself in that space, I would rather love the idea of an open marriage, where I don’t have to cheat. I will tell my wife that we are not super humans that I am going to fulfill all her wishes and desires and the vice versa is not going to happen.
What was your wife’s reaction when you told her about the subject of your book?
She was the first person I told about the plot. She didn’t read the story but I had to discuss the plot with her because of the nature of the book. Given that I am an author and this is a work of fiction, people would still have an understanding that it’s my life. Most of my books have been autobiographical in nature, so many might think this is my belief. She only read the book once it was out. She completely supported me and is happy with the book.
In this book, you write as a woman. Did the predominance of women fans affect your decision and how difficult is to write as a woman?
My writing as a woman has nothing to do with the percentage of women readers I have. Of course, my readers give me feedback and Naina and Manavika, is the outcome of what I hear from my readers, who are predominantly women. The reason I chose to write as a woman is when you are writing in the first person, you make the reader believe that this is his or her story. I wanted that connect. I could have written about two men who have extramarital affairs, but because of the patriarchal society we live in, it may have been taken for granted. We always say men are dogs, so I might have lost the sensitivity of the subject. As the subject is explosive and controversial, I wanted to take care of it in a sensitive way by talking about two women and their extra marital affairs.
Check out the short film, The Dinner:
Was it your idea to make a short film to promote the book?
Yes, it was my idea. From finding the director to shooting, I was involved throughout the making of the film. This time I wanted to connect in a different way. Short films have been hits recently, so I wanted to reach out to that audience. I wanted to give an idea of the book to the readers before the release. So, the idea of a short film in which the conversation is going to be mature and logical. We wanted young, modern, educated and working couples talking about the issue.
Are you worried about any backlash since the issue is controversial?
In today’s time any backlash would actually add to the sales figure. But I am not worried. As an author I understand that I will pick up the pen when I have something to say. I am young and at this age I want to challenge the system. I am a rebellious person. I am willing to hold a conversation as far as there is logic to it. But should these people decide what I should be writing? I won’t be able to sleep if I succumb to such pressure.
Are you immune to criticism by now?
I am open to criticism. Critics are just a percentage of the population. I am more moved by big crowds and what they say. I am willing to listen to critics, but they can’t influence me to do something.
Is a sequel to this book on the cards?
The sequel to this book will take time. I want people to absorb the story. My readers want a sequel to Can Love Happen Twice? Let me finish this trilogy, the story of my marriage.