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Love in the time of anti-Romeo squads

These days the cry of love jihad and the exertions of the good Yogi’s anti-Romeo squads have suppressed our ardour and shackled romance

columns Updated: Feb 10, 2018 19:46 IST
Yogi Adityanath,Yogi,anti romeo squads
A couple near the historic Taj Mahal on the eve of Valentine's Day in Agra. PTI Photo

The old song may claim ‘Love is in the air’ but I doubt if that’s the case in our country. We might have mastered the art of wooing and flirtation in the days of the Kamasutra but that high point of achievement is now well behind us. These days the cry of love jihad and the exertions of the good Yogi’s anti-Romeo squads have suppressed our ardour and shackled romance.

Indian Juliets may cry their hearts out wailing ‘O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?’ but I doubt if he is going to show up. Fear has replaced affection. Romeo is likely to stay at home with Mummy!

Just look at the distressing facts. The Yogi’s anti-Romeo squads have questioned 21,37,520 people of whom 9,33,099 have been warned and 3,003 acted against in 1,706 FIRs. Between March 22nd and December and 15th, that’s an average of six cases a day.

For what it counts, an anti-Romeo squad comprises a sub-inspector and two constables. They patrol Uttar Pradesh’s universities, colleges, cinema halls, parks and public places. Consequently, there is nowhere left to hold hands and canoodle. Teenage passion has been straitjacketed.

In contrast, I still remember the first time I received a red rose on Valentine’s Day, even though it was over thirty years ago. I was a producer at London Weekend Television. The phone rang around midday. It was the reception nine floors below.

“Karan”, said a rather eager voice. “You’re not going to believe this but there’s a special delivery Valentine’s rose for you!”

Minutes later a beaming lady from the reception walked in, her right hand stretched out and grasped in it a single red rose with a little card dangling from the stem. “Guess who?” it read.

I hadn’t the faintest idea but that’s what made it so thrilling. I have a secret admirer, I said to myself. My colleagues started laughing and sniggering. An immediate guessing game broke out “Who do you think sent it?” For the life of me I could not work that out.

Unable to contain myself I picked up the phone and rang Nisha. “Guess what? I’ve just received an anonymous red rose. Who do you think might have sent it?” Nisha laughed. She seemed happy. But even she had no idea who my secret admirer might be.

For the rest of the day I was on cloud nine. I felt I was floating. I could hardly pay attention to anything. The day passed in a whirl.

When I got home that evening I popped the rose into a crystal holder and positioned it at the centre of the drawing room table. Nisha, who got back after me, saw it immediately. “So you’re thrilled?” she said, her face covered in a big smile.

“Of course. I’ve got an admirer. I wonder who it is?”

This was too much for Nisha. “It’s me, you idiot! Who else would send you a red rose on Valentine’s Day?”

While I recovered from shock Nisha picked up the phone to share the story with all our friends. The joke was at my expense but I was grateful for the earlier six hours of thrill and sweet anticipation.

It’s this innocent fun the Yogi and love jihad have put an end to. When you worry about the consequence you lose the desire to woo. When the police are on vigil adolescent flirtation flies out of the window. Oh dear, what a joyless world we’ve become.

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Feb 10, 2018 19:44 IST