None of us are the main protagonists of our own stories. For a while it may seem that way – all me me me. But the denouement, when it comes, is an anti-climax for painting us into the edges of the portrait. This shift in perspective is rarely accompanied by trumpets or cymbals; not even a sad harmonium plays as we collect our tattered self-image and shuffle towards the exit marked for minor characters.
When we end up in the role of an extra in somebody else’s grand passion, we still want to tell our stories, sing our songs. Heartbreak is the main course served throughout life; most verbal autobiographies unspool on a note of ‘why me?’ That ripping sound of the heart being gouged out of the chest! How we wallow in it, how we transcend it. How we ache, how we take it on our chin. How we die and resurrect. And perhaps that is when we meet ourselves for the first time, in the depth of our deepest despair.
Mainstream movies and pop songs capitalise on this universal sentiment, of being left behind. You thought you were the main lead but, bam, you are demoted to the pizza delivery chap - anyone could have played you.
Love is a bloodbath. There is no easy existence within its four walls. It is an act of self-sabotage and terrorism, when bombs go off in the bloodstream, planted there by you yourself. The fireworks are a treat, but then your limbs are ash.
Three recent IWE literary works deal sensitively with all faces of love, including reunions and betrayals. Also about coping, of painfully recouping and putting one’s life together again, of pressing reset buttons. Gayathri Prabhu’s Love in Seven Easy Steps, Rucha Chitrodia’s It’s Also About Mynah and Madhavi S Mahadevan’s Bride of the Forest look at love and its many aftermaths. The man-woman equation in the heterosexual universe comes under a unique lens in each of these books, spanning age groups and even time periods.
In Prabhu’s tenderly laid out words – ‘the sea in thought, tumbles, an infant moon unsheathes. His letter had said so little: let’s meet’ –
there is that heady ecstasy of first hellos. Disjointed unions run in Mahadevan’s novel, even as specific feelings struggle against the indignity of silence: ‘
As if we are the two edges of a flame that has just been lit.’
Chitrodia’s book, too, briskly assesses the bliss of that first connect, inevitably followed by doubts that dissolve into general big-city experiences. As a character in her book sums up: ‘Doing things for someone you love is not a waste of a life. It is not an investment gone wrong. What counts is how much we give to a passion. It could be anyone or anything. Passion has its own rewards: the means and the end.’
The oh so poetic thrill of that first meeting and then the prosaic picking up of pieces after the parting! In matters of the heart, sometimes the path seems to be predestined -- and yet we walk it again and again.