Every evening as dusk sets in, he sits in his rocking chair nursing a Scotch and listening to old Hindi film songs. The day I last saw him in Hyderabad, the strains of Mohammed Rafi’s Dekhi zamane ki yaari…bichchde sabhi baari-baari….impregnated the air.But, instead of the melancholia that drips from Guru Dutt’s sets in Kagaz ke Phool, there was a calm surrounding Jyotirmaya, a sense of peace and a day well spent. No broken heart here, just a man unwinding after a day at work…. His dinner is ready and waiting, his next choice out of a collection of 3000 movies in the DVD player, awaiting the click of a remote button. A book lies next to his bed in what seems to be exactly the position he left off reading it the night before. No female presence or kiddie clutter disturbs the even tenor of his existence.
Life is the way he loves it…Cut to another home in another city.Anuradha (not her real name) is a busy professional juggling career and home, handling a daughter singlehanded and loving it. Her bedroom is done up in soft, feminine colours and the books and music racks house just her choices. She savours her mornings and is extremely possessive about that time when, daughter sent off to school, she relaxes, looking at the trees outside her window, reflecting, reading the papers and sipping nimbupani. Mother and daughter have a mutually satisfactory routine and keep their weekends busy with movies and friends when they are not exploring the city. Ask her if she feels the lack of a male presence at home, and she laughs, “Male? What’s that?! No, seriously, where is the space for a male in this house or in my life? Why would I want someone to make an insidious entry into my life and uproot my very existence?” Point.It’s not an easy state to achieve, but once set in your routine and after you have settled life’s little matters and tied the loose ends, a single person can possibly lead a far more peaceful and satisfying life if he or she sets her mind to it than many married couples.
Yes of course, at times the heart may feel lonely and twinges of regret may make their presence felt, but on the whole a life where you are answerable largely to just yourself cannot be bad.How long can one keep looking for Mr Perfect or Ms Perfect? There has to come a time when you give up looking and settle down to what you have. And those who come to this conclusion early and start building a life for just themselves are the ones who, like Jyotirmaya and Anuradha, achieve a sense of peace and come to terms with single life. And soon there comes a time when they wrap life so securely and comfortably around themselves that there is no scope left for another human entering that space.It’s not a selfish or self-centred existence really; it’s just a full life that gets fuller each time these singles introduce yet another passion. The kind of passions that have to be put off by others whose spirits strive to reach beyond the usual responsibilities of life.
Let’s get this clear; it’s not a libertine view that these singles are propagating, nor are they flying against the institution of marriage. We are talking here of people who in the state of singlehood, decide to make the best of an existence that precariously straddles the line between a satisfied fullness and an unending search for an elusive companion. Having knit their lives into a pattern that keeps them busy, fruitfully occupied and happy, they are at peace with themselves. Friendships acquire a deeper meaning for them and they are ready to go out on a limb for a friend.One may well ask what about the need for companionship, sexual gratification or support in old age and illness? Jyotirmaya has an interesting answer for this. “These are three distinct needs that once segregated, provide an amazing clarity. Friends can provide you great companionship; I have seldom seen a couple who are great conversationalists or companions after some years of marriage! Sex can be disengaged from marriage surely in this day and age! As for looking after in sickness and old age, what guarantee that children would do the needful, or even that a spouse will outlast you?” Who can refute this logic?Add to that the fact that as multi-dimensional creatures we cannot hope to satisfy all our needs in just one person.
We have so many diverse needs and aspirations, that each one of us, if we are to be fully satisfied, needs a battery of friends and companions available to us. And a single person is free to pick and choose any, at any time.Movies, books, music, artistic pursuits, social work, parties, apart from your choice of profession – contemporary life offers a wide range of activities and indulgences that consume and stimulate you enough not to actually miss being part of a couple. However, beyond all this, there is still that very natural need to connect with another adult, to have someone you can use as a sounding board, share your thoughts and passions and plan holidays with. Same sex friend is the easiest answer, one that society too approves of. And yet, there is also the need to have companions of the opposite sex, or you somewhat lose out on one aspect, one important perspective of life.
Friends of the opposite sex are just as important as same sex companions. What’s wrong with that? Someone you can share some magical moments with and then retreat to the cocoon of your own satisfactory existence. It just helps complete the circle.Just because you are alone need never mean you are lonely. With a life so full with interests, friends, passions, there is no scope or time to get bored.