Sunday, July 10, 2016

The new old-fashioned one

"...and love, so wrought,  
May be unwrought so. "
                             - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It was just a couple of weeks back that I was teaching the poem to a class of 16-year-olds, where it took me sometime to explain the historical background of the poem, how Victorian women had so freedom of speech or expression, even basic education was not available to most and how looking after the household and giving birth to healthy heir to the family legacy was the only criteria sought after. Living in those times, it must have taken a great deal of courage on E.B.Browning's part to write a poem where she asks, rather demands, to be loved for who she "is" and not what she looks like or what qualities she had. But didn't it take a lot of her husband's encouragement and support to come out and write. And not to forget that she was whhelchair-bound, which must have been enough to ignore her completely in the "marriage market".

2016. It still takes fair skin, slim figure, sharp features and convent education to make oneself valuable in the "marriage market". And if someone even dares to look beyond this, it still takes a soothing voice, or gentle manner, or matching the wave length, to fall in love. And so I began the post with the quote -
                                                         "...and love, so wrought,
                                                          May be unwrought so. "
Can we not love a person just for the person that he is? Not because he is your brother, or father, or husband. Not because she is your sister, or mother, or wife? What if none of these or any relation whatsoever fits the bill? What if it's just a person you've known, and you've come to respect and care for, just for the person that he or  she is? Not because she has been your childhood friend, or he has been your rakhi-brother.

Even while writing this, I feel it might be a Utopian idea, because who has the time to love for love's sake? These days, we don't want to go to the market to shop, so we choose the various online websites. We don't visit each other any more, because it takes time. So we update our "memories" on Facebook and Whatsapp each other in groups, rather than meeting in person. Yes, the barrier of states and countries is there, but it was still there a couple of decades ago. Our parents would still write letters and visit friends and relatives. They would still take a bus or a taxi to visit Gariahat or New Market for puja shopping.

So, am I being old-fashioned? I haven't really given it a thought. And all this thought is definitely triggered by my husband, who is a self-proclaimed "old-fashioned man". May be sometimes it's better to be old fashioned than being too knowledgeable. It's sometimes better to know less than to know more. And probably it's sometimes better to hold on to one's dignity and conscience than to just 'let it go'.


















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