Love in the time of coronavirus: Crumbling modern relationships and how familiarity breeds contempt
To be “Quarantined in love”, would surmise almost every true-blue romantic’s fantasy, a long honeymoon masquerading as a harsh decree. What would have normally sounded like a utopian dream-romantic, amorous and tempting in the pre-lockdown era would now (post 14th April) surely be echoing like that irritating song perpetually stuck in your head. Millions of lovebirds would have confessed, “if only we had one more hour/day/weekend to celebrate our love”, and voila, the Gods answered their prayers to the fullest; 21 days of 24 hours each with their Mr/ Miss Right, both under the same roof with no one to disturb them and with nowhere to go. “Two bodies, one soul”, was the metaphor that sprung to life.
How would the love-gurus define this phase of mankind, ‘before lockdown’ v/s ‘during lockdown’ or the masks that unmasked all?
Going by initial reports the ‘post-lockdown’ period’s heading towards a one-way street ending at the divorce lawyers office considering both the lover and the beloved have demanded nothing but perfectionism from their spouses, more so when it comes to their spotless kitchens, impeccable housekeeping and only Michelin-worthy dishes.
Let the romantic bickering begin.
Kartik Grover (29) an IT professional and his wife Alisha (30, homemaker) had only one major irritant in their 4 years of marriage, lack of ‘quality time together’!
‘Yours truly’, did suggest, one time too many, the ill-effects of the same. I mean morphine is a life-saving drug but works only in small doses. Facebook, fun when it’s sparingly logged on to but blood-sucking when it becomes a daily chore. Yet the truth is potent only when it comes in the form of an experience.
By April 13, Kartik and Alisha had experienced the myths of eternal companionship and behaved with each other (ofcourse- with who else) without a modicum of romance. Kartik has even forgotten how to spell romance. These were the same people who had been posting rather inundating social media with their lovey-dovey messages and pictures, all year long. What exactly went wrong during lockdown? Well according to Kartik, “To begin with, my wife misinterpreted the meaning of ‘Work from Home’ and confused it with “Work at Home”.
Net result, not only was Kartik spending half the day on conference calls (that have reincarnated as Zoom) but he was spending the other half doing utensils and splitting other household chores since the maidservants were the only ones who have made good. Since marriage is about equality, so far all was good, until an epiphany struck him. He realised that on normal days, Alisha was the queen bee since the maid did all the cooking, washing and cleaning while he was still slogging it out at the office. So, during lockdown, Kartik wondered if Alisha, the housewife, should have managed the household chores on her own while he was busy working from home, including making himself available for work at home?
However, coronavirus has also unintentionally, unearthed different aspects of different relationships, some for the better mostly for the worse. Amman (38) was married to Sneha (25) who was initially his intern at the office only to gradate later to become his girlfriend and finally his trophy-wife. Everyone including their AirBnB lodgers, the Twiterrati and the Instagrammers vouched for their marital bliss until their Titanic hit the eye-opening iceberg called coronavirus.
Sneha, draws barely one-tenth of the income that Aman earns as the senior vice president, sales but when the lockdown happened he still insisted on playing Sr VP at home, an idea that sounded nothing but blasphemous to his wife. She failed to understand why he couldn’t help with household chores, more so when she was equally committed to her job. If anything, because of his exalted status in the corporate food chain he normally had more spare time than she did (as a foot soldier).
To add to her miseries, he suddenly discovered infinite knowledge of cooking and found faults in her dishes as also in her utter mismanagement of resources, and all this not in the two years of marriage but only in the past few weeks.
What Sneha overlooked in the 10 hours a day she spent with her husband and discovered about her soulmate in three weeks of lockdown was even worse. Not only was he a work shirker but also a timid weakling, who cooked up every possible scenario to evade the long, potentially corona-risky queues for groceries. So much for behaving like her knight in shining armour, during their courtship days.
Anyway, one thing is certain, coronavirus besides quarantining people has also relieved us of those over the top cringe-worthy displays of love by the supposedly ‘forged in steel’ lovebirds. Since neither the lover nor the beloved was ever perfect (as suggested), the lockdown has certainly proved the old adage right that familiarity breeds contempt.
Anand Sharma is a Mumbai-based writer.