Love in times of instant gratification and the clash between two Indias

Vastly different values are pulling a young and aspirational India in two different directions. Till we are able to find a common meeting ground, there will be a lot more Nikkies, Shraddhas and Amarjyotis

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” These lines from the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare are the universal truth. But when the world-famous bard was writing about misunderstandings between lovers, little did he imagine that a few centuries down the line, the path of true love would be slick with blood, gore and mind-numbing cruelty!

Dishearteningly, every other day one hears gruesome tales of love gone wrong and betrayal of the worst kind.

Take the case of Nikki Yadav for instance. Her husband Sahil Gehlot, is accused of killing her, stuffing her body into a fridge, and then marrying another woman the same day! What lack of respect for life, love, and human relationships? How can you kill someone you once loved and then callously go and marry someone else the same day? Where do you get the chutzpah to do that from?

And what was Nikki’s crime? She had married Sahil for love and was resisting his attempts to leave her and marry someone else. In her desperation, she had threatened to post the marriage certificate of the Arya Samaj temple where they got married, on social media and to show it to the family of the prospective bride. So, Sahil decided to eliminate her. No fear of the law. No remorse. And in the process, he ruined another woman’s life too. I wonder what the new bride is going through right now.

We also have the case of Vandana Kalita, a woman from Assam who killed her husband Amarjyoti Dey and mother-in-law Shankari Dey, chopped up their bodies and kept them inside a fridge in Assam’s Noonmati, a neighbourhood in Guwahati before throwing the body parts some 150 km away in Meghalaya’s Cherrapunji area. Kalita’s relationship with her husband was strained as she was having an extramarital affair. So, she chose to end her marriage this way.

In both these cases, the people were married and had obviously fallen out of love with their spouses. They murdered their spouses just because they wanted the relationship to end. A lot of people seem to have forgotten what American author Jodi Picoult has so simply put, “You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love in spite of the fact that they’re not.”

Nobody is perfect. You aren’t either. So work on the relationship, talk to each other, and opt for counseling. Make it work. But in today’s fast-paced world, people are increasingly becoming commitment-phobic. And even if they do make a commitment they tire of it easily. Worse, their tolerance threshold is low and they seem to fall in and out of love very quickly.

So, the big question is, are we turning into a society of selfish, self-centred individuals who are little princes and princesses in our own minds? Has Gen X brought up people who have difficulties in navigating life’s vagaries and facing the curve balls that invariably come our way? 

One question that always comes to mind when I read about people in an unhappy or failed marriage killing their spouse is: Why kill? Why can’t you simply seek a divorce if you can’t make it work?

I think the answer lies in the fact that we are living in times of “instant gratification.” We are so used to instant coffee, instant tea, instant noodles, and instant food being delivered online, instant shopping where there is instant gratification! We can book tickets online in an instant. We can order transportation online in a jiffy. We have high-speed Internet where your patience is not tested by having to wait for connectivity. Society seems to have forgotten the virtue of patience and waiting and working towards making something perfect. 

So, in these times of instant gratification, people, especially the young and restless, do not want to opt for the long, time-consuming, and hard path of trying to make things work in a relationship or even divorcing an estranged spouse. Because they know that in the Indian justice system getting a divorce is a time-consuming process. The courts, rightfully so, are in no hurry to tear a family asunder. They want to give an estranged couple as much time as possible to work toward reconciliation. So, the young and restless find it easier to get rid of the “problem” instantly by taking the law into their own hands. Whether they took the time to think of the consequences of their actions, only they can tell. But to them, it was an instant solution to their pressing “problem.”

Then there is the phenomenon of easy access to multiple partners and finding love on dating sites. Gone are the times when people took months to woo a person or even work up the courage to talk to them. Dating was hard and access to the opposite sex was limited. As people had to work hard to win that love, it was precious.

Don’t get me wrong. Dating sites are good because they bring so many people together who in real life would not have a chance or confidence of finding love. But the flip side of it is that their arrival has changed the dating scene. They have become an extension of the “instant” culture. You have access to thousands of like-minded people looking for love, so choices are fast and limitless. The value of that hard-won prize has gone down because of the easy and instant access to a host of other “fish in the sea”. The attitude is if it won’t work out with this one I can always get someone else. Just like Aftab Poonawala did, when he started dating other women and even brought them home while Shraddha Walker’s body parts were lying in the fridge. I bet that young lady who was with Aftab at that time must now be having nightmares about what happened and thanking her stars that she came out of the whole thing alive!

Then there is this other aspect which is the clash between the old and the new, the mismatch between traditional expectations and modern aspirations. The dichotomy between the two Indias we are living in. We are a country with a very young demographic. Hence, we are going through a major social and cultural transition where there is bound to be disjunction and polarity between culture and value. So, while at one level the younger generation’s mindset has changed extensively, their apron strings are still tied to those rooted in our traditions and culture.

So while there are lakhs of people who will genuinely be in love with the person they chose to live with or marry on their own without parental consent, the remainder of them are still struggling to cope with this new India. While on their own, they are happy to meet, date and live-in with a modern, financially independent person of their choice but when it comes to marriage they will either willingly marry a person who will gel well with the family or they will give in to parental pressure and marry a person of their parents’ choice. Some, like Sahil Gehlot, will think nothing of dumping or killing their live-in partner to please the parents.

Whether we admit it or not, these vastly different values and mindsets are pulling a young and aspirational India in two different directions. The result is that many are confused and some are falling victim to this upheaval which is pulling our social fabric asunder.

There will be a great many casualties in the fight between these two different Indias that we live in. Till we are able to find a common meeting ground, there will be a lot more Nikkies and Shraddhas and Amarjyotis. How long will it take us to strike a working balance or whether we will ever be able to do it, only time will tell! I just hope we can strike that balance sooner than later.