Humour: Please turn off the mush…February 14 isn’t kind to the Lonely Hearts Club
When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
Nobody says it like The Beatles. The quoted song, part of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, released in 1967, features a dogged young man looking to secure the companionship of his lover well into the future. The budhaape ka sahaara angle is not limited to British boy bands alone. Any Indian single beyond the age of 30 is regularly subjected to doomsday scenarios involving lonesome senior years staring into the abyss, lamenting one’s failure to find a “permanent” soulmate.
You must have babies
Marriage, parenthood and pet adoption – speak to anyone who’s recently experienced one of these and you’re in danger of being sucked into the splendiferous world yourself. I’m convinced there’s some multi-level marketing racket around these life events. You pull in more people and you get rewarded somehow. “Oh, it will change your life!” they tell you, flashing a diamond ring while pulling a pram or a leash. “I can really focus on my work in peace, now that my love life is in order.” As if love takes up permanent residence in one’s heart, never to feel neglected, put upon or distracted.
Then there are those extravagant anniversary celebrations where eternally warring spouses assume the superior air of Zen masters. Kahlil Gibran’s mystical wisdom is spouted, fancy hors d’oeuvres served and vows renewed. The hours before and after these celebrations often feature some first-rate marital manoeuvres that may easily be described as martial. But long marriages = happy marriages, we’re taught. Fortunately, the “feeling blessed” hashtag covers all manner of sins.
Tinderella & Prince Trending
Blinded by images of eternal Insta bliss, the young seeker launches Operation Soulmate. Like two Disprin in a glass of water on a hungover morning, she or he is ready to mingle. February 14 is nigh and it’s down to the trusty Internet to find the elusive soulmate. One quickly develops carpal tunnel syndrome from all the swiping and chatting but is no closer to finding a date, leave alone a beloved. One friend, who recently found love on Tinder, told me it was her last day scouring the male category. She was ready to jump over to the other side when she finally met her current companion.
Another friend hit it off with someone on a dating app, and after many a hurdle, the couple have moved in together. So it does exist – the happy ending to the Tinderella story. Except, everyone knows that the real story begins at “happily ever after.”
Change of heart
The valentine season is a difficult time for those who’ve lost love, or who’re reassessing it. Like Joni Mitchell in Clouds, so many of us – perhaps all – really don’t know love at all. But whether we’re looking for someone to grow old with, or someone to watch Netflix with (which, I’ve learnt, can be a euphemism for other couch-related activities), it’s perhaps best not to respond to triggers like social media, or anniversary celebrations, where everyone appears terminally happy in their carefully curated love bubbles.
A good love story often involves a change of heart. Let me leave you with an image of two people walking in a park at sunset, hand in hand. One is my aunt; the other is her husband, who’s had a heart transplant a little over a year ago. The last few years have been trying in every way possible, but here they are – here they still are. Watching them take slow steps together in the golden light reminds me that our search for companionship, no matter how old or world weary we may be, is more than worthwhile. (My uncle turned 64 this January.)
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a persuasive V-Day argument to convince someone, the lads from Liverpool have still got it.
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging
Who could ask for more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
From HT Brunch, February 10, 2019
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