I have often been asked out for one night stands but I could never bring myself to say yes to any. And let me tell you that I am not a traditionalist. I am the kind of people who have political opinions so inclined on the liberal side that societies might very well dissolve had it been up to us and I am the kind of people who are often condemned for not being sentimental enough to preserve the culture I come from because what they call dilution, we call evolution and I am the kind who loves choices, sexual fluidity, humanities and the lifelong pursuit of free will.
But it is weird how my emotional desires exceed my bodily desires. My craving for conversations, making coffee for someone else while he sits on the bean bag in the balcony while listening to Indie music and then the brief moment of intimacy while not doing anything except witnessing the sun go down behind the skyscrapers , the homecoming of birds and the dance of the clouds. But one night stands are all about touching, and asking each other the right questions but always sexual, everything constrained to the body, to the bedroom history and preference of positions. An unpaid two-way prostitution. Such an investment of time and effort to bridge the awkwardness with ignorant and unmeant compliments and everything for what? Just a night of rolling each other in the bed and smoking them up like a joint. A night when despite your politeness, your brilliant background of being a state level athlete or an expert at playing the violin, you will be still praised for how good you are at blowing. A night when you will be reduced from a woman to a vagina, a mouth to ejaculate into, a thin skinned condom meant to be used and thrown. Everything consensual, but everything merely sensual. But then when he falls asleep and you spend the rest of the night smoking with your head hanging out of the open window, you will wonder why people value short term goals over long term commitments, because at least the former are promising.
Our generation is stuck in some kind of transition period; the uncomfortable interval between a previous world where people wanted to be remembered in poetry and a forthcoming one where people want to be remembered for their thesis papers. The uncomfortable interval between two widely split legs, between ambitions and emotions, and between inconsistency and anti-depressants. It is as exciting as sad, but since despite all the development our work hours are not shrinking with the years, it also feels absurd. Who has the energy to drag himself through twelve hours of mental labour in front of a desktop, and then fight his way into an overcrowded bus only to come to a house disorganized by fellow roommates, and still manage to save some romantic appetite to call and entertain a long distant girlfriend? Who has the time to keep your heart considerate among the long office meetings and perennially scheduled business trips, to even remember to always do the necessary little things to fuel the fire in a lover’s heart like love letters and candle light dinners and wedding vows? No wonder relationships are defined so cynically because they are always defined by those who have been in bad ones. But after all, there is always a reason why stereotypes exist.“But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”, Celine asks in Before Sunrise. I do not have an answer.
But millennials never learnt to conform. The globalization has taught us one thing and that is to adapt. To be a Roman when in Rome, or build Rome elsewhere within a day. The juggling is tasking, but the juggling has been expertised. The underrated concept of live-in relationships has made love an autonomous process, letting it take its responsibility in its own hands. It has made it a spontaneous process now. Love previously needed a time slot to be separately kept aside but now she is always around, humming in the kitchen or decorating the front porch, being a part of you by just being in your sight.
The waking up to each other’s faces, the brushing of teeth together in your nightwear shorts, the kissing under the shower and little conversations in the cab you take to office. The texting throughout the lunchtime about laundry, Internet bill or prospective furniture. The coming back to home to someone, who is waiting hungrily with the dinner getting cold. The office timings have not changed and hence the exertion never reduces. The backache and the mental frustration is still there, but at least she knows now and hence understands. You accept each other’s tired minds, each other’s irritability which otherwise you might have mistaken for indifference while dating long distance. No formalities of sending gifts because there is a ritual of everyday forehead kisses and washing clothes together in the bathroom on weekends. It might sound monotonous, because relationships are never expected to be boring and ordinary. They are thought of some kind of dopamine bouts but you will realize how the thing about expecting chemical impulses from people is one day you do not want it anymore.
But living in shows you how love has to be monotonous if we want it to be continuous. It is like being on a prolonged date that never ends.It might not feel special anymore but at least feel comfortable, as if love is not another assignment to score well in but an innate tendency. Sometimes on Sundays, you will not feel like talking and just sit un-bathed in your sweatpants, watching Youtube on your respective laptops, energising your lifeless bodies. No formality of having to call only to remind your partner you still love her on Sundays. No compulsion to talk at least something because sharing is caring. Laziness is difficult to adjust with but in live-in relationships, they are a competitive advantage. You will have fights but regarding division of labour and not division of love. You will shop for grocery together and take each other to the doctor. It will hit you in months that you never think of breaking up, because this person is not indistinguishable from yourself anymore and has become just another habit. Not a bad one, especially.
On some days you will look at her and think how the spark is not felt anymore. It will be a little devastating, and a little terrifying. Is the love dying out? Should you know a lover too much if you still want to remain in love? Is it possible to stick to a single person all your life despite knowing there are no more surprises left in them to make your heart miss a beat? It will make you anxious and sweaty and make the canvas of your future look dark, the things you always feel during the daily 8pm power cuts. But one day, while you stalk your hallways waiting for the electricity to come back, you will hear her calling from the bedroom. You will trace back to her letting her voice be your only guide. And when you reach, you will see the dinner served on the table. A candle light in the middle. And her half-lit face, smiling back at you like a bright future.
By Bijaya Biswal
Bijaya Biswal is currently a student of Medicine and Surgery in India. She loves to read books on Economics, History and Politics. On most of the evenings, she is found sitting beside a window, sipping coffee and writing poetry.
Artwork by Shanti Shea An.