loyalty “It isn’t an easy thing to give your loyalty to someone you don’t know, especially when that person chooses to reveal nothing of himself.” ― Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia

The 40-minute bus journey feels worthwhile when it transports me into a ‘ruminate mode’. And today the topic is: loyalty/infidelity (restricted to romantic relationships). I know that it’s weird to juxtapose opposites together, unless they form part of an oxymoron. But these words have assumed significance, because relationships nowadays are all about the absence or presence of either of them. The other day I heard about a couple who have decided to get married after a long courtship of about 7-8 years. I have known one of them since school, and I always hoped they would go till the altar. God bless them. But what makes me happier and rather envious is the fact that couples who hold on to each other for this long AND get married to each other are just so lucky! We belong to a generation in which vices have started to go overboard. Alcohol flows freely like rivers, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes are synonymous with ‘parties’ and ‘treks’ and ‘trips’, ‘parties’ no longer mean just food because they mean ‘wild’ parties where skin is exposed to exciting levels, and even the so-called ‘committed’ people end up succumbing to their weaknesses and cheating on their partners. And that’s where it all ends. In one major stroke. Of course, it can be seen as ‘minor’ by many people, but they would have to come up with a really good, rational philosophy, AND hope that their partner would get it. This is the age of enlarged trust deficit. You ultimately realise that a person is weak when they need alcohol to speak the truth, even if it seems ‘cute’. He or she is weak when they need alcohol to blatantly show their partners the blurry truth. He or she is weak when they resort to drugs in order to escape from the vagaries of life.

So the newest philosophy (which was probably iterated by the Panchatantra, so it is not new after all :P) which enters your mind is: expecting a weak person to be loyal in ‘love’ is as foolish as you can be in love, and otherwise. After all, love is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage to love someone, because vulnerability does not come to everyone easily. Maya Angelou said that it takes courage to accept love as well. I am reminded of a dialogue in a teleseries that I heard in passing, “Mohabbat karne wale bahadur hote hain“. So does this mean that those who cannot accept all the love coming their way are weak as well? By living in a shell made of inflated ego and insecurity and logic and caution,they’re rejecting love, help and hope. Maybe this philosophy shall allow us to be mature enough to recognise those weaknesses later in life, when our lessons would need compulsory application. It may make us pity the other person, and/or forgive them. Maya Angelou also said, and I’d like to quote it exactly as she said it-“You see love liberates. It doesn’t bind, love says I love you. I love you if you’re in China, I love you if you’re across town, I love you if you’re in harlem, I love you. I would like to be near you, I would like to have your arms around me, I would like to have your voice in my ear but that’s not possible now, I love you, so go. Love liberates, it doesn’t hold. That’s ego. Love liberates.

Now that’s love. I think it perfectly sums up the essence of real love, the kind of love which does not care if it is a long-distance relationship, because LDRs are the ultimate test of relationships. Two people can survive the relationship for as many years as they would like when they live at a stone’s throw. But when it comes to the long-distance marriages and long-distance relationships, it’s like enduring a fire test for a couple madly in love. For those who mutually couldn’t care less about each other, it’s a breeze, just how they would like it to be. 😛 Loyalty in any relationship extends not only to the physical aspect, but also to the emotional. Most importantly, mental. That’s where ‘out of sight, out of mind’ can either cast its spell or fails to work, depending upon inner strength. I think we’ve all grown up listening to “absence makes the heart grow fonder“. But over the past few years, I have seen and interacted with people who make me lose faith in it. They are the embodiment and personification of “absence makes the heart go yonder” (as I like to call it). It’s disappointing when an adage gets tarnished and reversed in front of our eyes. Sigh.

It takes a lot of work to make ‘love’ work when a couple is, say, five thousand miles apart. That’s because it could mean not ogling at other people (and/or fantasising about them), not watching pornography (which is another form of disrespect) and not doing anything which is ‘objectionable’ (varies from person to person). If it stands the test of time and works, it works only because of love. One has to be in love to be loyal, but one needn’t be in love while being committed, in which case it translates more into an obligation. Stretching it to the crudest term, I would say that the relationship or marriage becomes a ‘burden’. In order to get it off the chest, one can either gather courage to just end it (yes, it takes courage to tell someone, ‘darling, it’s over’) or can resort to shady ways of ‘symbolically’ ‘moving on’, without bothering to care about an ending the other person can just about not handle.

Someone once told me that “nobody can be cent percent loyal”, but that was probably because the person, in hindsight, questioned their own ability to be loyal. “Anyone can be loyal, if they care for someone deeply”. I feel it’s true. I personally believe that people would rarely be compulsively disloyal. Either they’re weak or they’re selfish, or both. And most of the time, the fault lies elsewhere. It lies in their attitude towards life, always wanting things in the easiest manner and not wanting to work hard (because c’mon, “he/she is just another guy/girl, why care so much?”), in their influential peer group, in the conditioning while growing up, and/or in invisibly deep-seated shame, insecurity and guilt. In either or all cases, their actions are not justified, and life may become harder for both persons, because it becomes hard for both to be loyal to themselves, after a point of time. I believe love is a gift, even if it’s wrapped inside a Pandora’s box. If it doesn’t come easy to us, we value it more. Maybe that’s why, people are so scared of love, because it entails intangible investment and intangible returns. Lust is pretty tangible, and works as an illusion. So who wants love? The one who needs love most often runs away from it; by being disloyal to their own self, and to the one who gets tired running after them. It is unfortunate that both escape in opposite directions, the former because of ‘lack’ of courage, and the latter because of ‘loss’ of courage. Sometimes, an illusion inside the mind can clear our doubts, our second guesses. But an illusion outside the mind just complicates them. Because escapism is all about lying to ourselves. But the resulting real infidelity is like killing two (love)birds with one stone. Killing, literally.


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