“Kiss of Love”: Face Off Liberals and Conservatives
Recently, there was a protest against moral policing in the name of “Kiss of Love” in Marine Drive walkway at Kochi in Kerala. A few couples and dozens of youth activists kissed and hugged each other but a celebration of lips and cheeks was spoiled by Hindu and Muslim organizations.
I was not in Kochi during these days – lot of people wanted me to comment on this. “What’s your opinion on public kissing?” many asked me. “Why should I need to have opinion for each and everything?”
Unfortunately, I was dragged into a mediation between a father (Vincent) and son (Tony) (names are not real) who had argued about this “freedom to kiss” issue that ended up in a severe fight. I was compelled to hear their arguments.
The father said: “This is against our Kerala culture. We have a rich tradition of morality and values…”
“What morality?” I asked him. Kerala was the only place in the world that had a barbaric tax like “Mulakaram” (breast tax). Women were not allowed to cover their bosom in public. The tax rate was high, and varied according to the size and attractiveness of the breasts in question.
Sexual hooliganism was rampant in Kerala. Among Nair communities, girls were forced into relationships (sambandham) with younger-son Namboodris. The side-effects: Nair boys won’t get Nair girls and Namboodiri girls can’t marry. Some historians say that the land ownership moved from Namboodiris to Nairs and then to other communities mostly as rewards on such relationships. The social set-up was so pathetic that Swami Vivekananda when visited Kerala some 100 years ago commented: “I have wandered into a lunatic asylum!’
Then it was a period of Christian morality and social changes through Communism. The marriable age went up to 30s. The erotic vandalism in the genes coupled with suppressed hormone urges created a new brand of Mallus (Malayalis) – superficial, artificial, hypocrite, neurotic and confused. In psychoanalytic theory, Keralites are in a state of “reaction formation” is a defensive process (defense mechanism).
“So you support my son Tony’s view on open kiss?”Vincent asked.
“Let me first listen to Tony’s argument” I replied.
“Uday sir, you worship Lord Krishna. He had many love affairs in the public. Still you worship him….” Tony said.
“Tony, I will worship you too if you do all that Krishna did…Create a Bhagvad Gita” I said.
“What about sexual sculptures in Khajuraho”
“There are millions of other sculptures in India about war, treatment, yogic postures, animals, non-existing creatures, gods, goddess etc. The purpose was education and demonstration as there was no other media during those times. Why are you selective and biased only to something – that’s not acceptable in any serious arguments?”
“I meant to say that it was not taboo in ancient days…”
“That’s right Tony. When Homo sapiens lived in caves and trees, nothing was taboo. They mated in public like animals do. A dog doesn’t need to see calendar to know its mating season. How can you compare this with a civilized society? Our ancestors crossed-over that animal life-style and then developed a cultured Vedic civilization…”
“We also have a text book known as “Kamasastra” by Vatsyayana…”
“Tony, its name is “Kama Sutra” by Vātsyāyana. Kāmashastra refers to the tradition of works on Kāma: Desire (love, erotic, sensual and sexual desire in this case). There are hundreds of texts in this subject written by many sages -Nandi or Nandikeshvara, Kokkaka, Kalyanamalla, Auddalaki Shvetaketu, Bâbhravyakârikâ, Chârâyana,Dattaka, Suvarnanâb, Yashodhara, Kuchumâra to name a few. It’s all in-depth study materials. So what? How is it relevant to your protest?”
“But the youth of our country need to have individual freedom. This is a democracy. Kissing is just expression of a basic nature or urge of man and woman in love. That’s part of Indian culture” Tony said.
“Shall I piss and shit in your front room?” I got up.
“Sheeesh…sic…I didn’t expect such cheap dirty words from you…” Tony got angry.
“How come? That’s the very basic natural call I can’t resist. It’s most important for human beings…If I go by your argument, that’s also part of your concept of “Indian culture”. Large population in India defecates in public open places…Why don’t you allow me to do it here?”
“You are confusing me Sir. Is love a sin? Isn’t it basic human emotions? Why people like my dad oppose public expression of love? Why can’t people kiss?”
“There is nothing wrong in Kissing. Parents kiss their children, and vice versa too. But the kiss in question is kiss between lovers. What message are you trying to communicate here? Is kiss a form of protest? What rubbish thought?”
“No – Kiss is expression of love. And every individual has freedom to express…”
“Tony, Kamasastras elaborate nearly 41 types of kisses. But, not as an expression of love. It is expression of sexual desire….Sex has nothing to do with love…”
“It is not just sex… it is love…”
“Then please define love”
“Love is like, you know, love is…Romeo and Juliet…Have you seen Titanic?”
“Tony, the west has defined love based on their views, attitude and conditioning. And, according to their definition, kiss and sex are expression of love between lovers. They have nick-named sexual act as love-making. And people like you follow it like a zombie. This is not individual freedom. Simply put, this can be termed as “cultural slavery”…you are moving from freedom to slavery without even knowing about it.”
He didn’t say anything.
“Our own ancestors have explained everything about love and sex – some 5000 years ago. Have you ever read love stories of Kalidas? Have you heard about love between Usha-Anirudh, Udayana and Vasavadatta, Kacha-Devayani? Did you know that we Indians have a god exclusively for love?”
“I didn’t know it…”
“For us Indians, both love and sex are divine. These things are not for public trading as commodities. We do worship god at home. When you take the worship and religion to the road, you are doing nuisance for others. That’s not different from defecating in the public. Our freedom of worship shouldn’t be nuisance for others – that is what we call decency and civilization. Our tradition says nobody should feel hurt because of our actions…”
“So public kissing should be banned, right?” Vincent asked.
“Can we ban public defecation? The cleanliness and internal purity should come from within – the values and morality should come from family. I don’t think anybody from a decent family – whether liberal and conservative will show kiss as a protest.”
“We shouldn’t express love in the public?” Tony asked.
“Tony, first try to understand and experience the real love between a man and woman. Your concepts are created by movies, novels and advertising films. Love is not just following something that’s defined by media-market. You love a girl doesn’t mean that you should mandatorily kiss her. Rama didn’t kiss Sita. Krishna didn’t kiss Radha. Anirudha didn’t kiss Usha. Kacha didn’t kiss Devayani. Nobody told “I love you”. Such concepts crept in to our society recently from the relatively newly developed world that is yet to complete evolution. Everybody is free to imitate or not. My question here is, do you want to be slave by mimicking somebody’s concepts of love or do you really want to experience real love at personal level?”
Tony didn’t say anything. Vincent also didn’t interfere. “Why don’t you kiss your son?” I asked him. He did it with affection and love.
Individual freedom comes with greater responsibility towards the society and community. It’s very easy to say, “I don’t care…”
But remember – when you say, “I don’t care” that really means at subconscious level that, “I am scared”. Reflect on this without any prejudice and biased ideas.
© Uday Lal Pai. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing at firstname.lastname@example.org