“I am your handiwork made flesh. You took beauty and created hideousness, and out of this monstrosity your child will be born... I am the meaning of your deeds. I am the meaning of your so-called love; your destructive, selfish, wanton love. Your love looks just like hatred.... I was honest and you turned me into your lie. This is not me. This is not me. This is you.”
Salman Rushdie’s character, Boonyi, in Shalimar the Clown, spits out the above dialogue to her husband Max Ophuls. Relationships have the tremendous power to wreak such havoc on people. Relationships can be devastating.
Relationships can be beautiful too. It depends on the people involved, their attitudes and motives.
Relationships are quite like chemical reactions. The elements can enter into strong and beautiful bonds creating admirably different compounds. But unlike in chemical compounds, the individuals should be able to retain their own unique personalities in human relationships. In a good relationship, the individuals grow and help each other grow.
The primary ingredient in a sound relationship is mutual understanding and acceptance of the otherness of the other. When I understand that the other person is such and such and I am also able to accept those traits, I enter into a beautiful relationship – provided the other person reciprocates with similar understanding and acceptance.
That’s not easy, however. Most people are not much different from Rushdie’s Max Ophuls. In varying degrees. They like to impose themselves on the other. And go on to create lies out of honesty. Re-create the other in one’s own image or after one’s own ideal about the spouse or friend. Since people are not insensate clay to be moulded by a craftsman or craftswoman, such attempts at re-creating are doomed to end in disaster. The other individual ends up as a living lie, an impostor, a fragmented personality, a victim, unless she/he ends the relationship and walks away to rediscover her-/himself.
I have had quite a few friends who insisted on reshaping me because they thought that my soul stood in terrible need of redemption. Some thought that I had to be tamed if not reformed altogether. Some had ulterior motives like breaking me in order to please the boss who would award him a promotion as a reward.
I have never understood why I attracted so many such ‘friends’ and may never. So much so that I have embraced virtual solitude. But I know that relationships have their beauty in human life. Relationships can enrich. I have had at least a couple of such experiences too. Not everything has been dark. Some light is good. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here as a writer – I mean, blogger. But I do wish I had met different people on the way.
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 156: #Relationship