Veer is a man in his early forties. We met in a poetry baithak back in 2016 and met further in couple more baithaks. Veer and I could not talk in the course of those baithaks, as the emcee took this as prerogative. But we spoke on our way back as he dropped me home. I recited to him, few of my poems as we drove on the wide roads of Mandi House.
I have found people melt and connect whenever they read through my poems. V also felt likewise. He could see the reflection of his pain and anguish in my words and opened his soul like fizz of a canned drink. Impromptu he stopped and parked his car on a side lane. He went out, opened his car boot and brought out a bundle of A4 sheet papers. There was something printed on them. It had his poems.
‘My wife doesn’t know that I write poems. So I write them down and keep them in the boot. I think it’s the first time I’m showing these to someone.’
I was grateful to him. He recited and the stranger in me could see the palpable joy on his face. Sometimes our faces become too known for our loved one to make any difference as they change their shade of emotions. I was someone completely anew and hence I was attuned to the ephemeral changes in his emotions.
Time passed and I got busy in my divorce paperwork, office, and single motherhood. Veer did call me and asked to meet but I kept postponing it. Finally, one day, things fell in place and I met Veer again after a long haul. Things have changed both in his life and mine as we spoke. He shunned entrepreneurship, I embraced it. His sex life saw a decline, mine saw a rise. He lost much hair, I lost some.
We talked about the mundane things before our discussion veered to where it should have been. I also met Veer to understand his life from a point of marital sexual satisfaction, his troubles in his sexual life. I gently brought this up to Veer in our discussion and he happily agreed.
‘My wife has lost her interest in sex. Its been three months that we had not had sex. She seemed to be fine without it but I’m not. I long to be loved, I long to be desired. And so I think, if it is right thing for me to numb my desires even when I’m denied the rightful?’
I agreed to him. But he was still in a quandary. He thinks that if he finds a relationship elsewhere, it would be akin to be unfaithful to his wife, it would mean hurting his wife. He does not know what should he do? It was not that Veer’s wife did not love him. She is dedicated to her house, her children, and her husband. But in the overall scheme of things, sex did not find feature.
Bodies speak too
Because I sat there with Veer, I could see that his situation is not just about a raw physical release, his desire was deep rooted in his affection towards his wife, as he looked at her not just as a body but as a companion. He wanted to harness that feeling in the realm of companionship. Perhaps Veer had a different language to communicate his love, which his wife failed to understand, or which she was not equipped to understand.
What I see is we tend to give a huge emphasis on the verbal communication to build a couple intimacy. We talk about our plans, disappointments, disclosures, and trivial updates with our partner. We get offended when we are not being shared these crucial mundane whereabouts. ‘Why you did not tell me this?’ ‘You are not able to understand what I meant.’ And things like that.
This emphasis on spoken word as the sole expression of intimacy has a female bias and it has placed men at a huge disadvantage. Because the masculine ideals with which men were brought up, taught them self-control and in-sensitiveness, men sought other means of self-expression and hence body became a vital language. And it is still a vital language in many other cases.
If you see a new mother playing with her infant, you would know of the love that exists between two bodies. The baby is not able to speak and yet the mother derives sublime happiness through the touch, eye contact, cradling, warmth, suckle and so more. Because this need is linked to biological need and hence we admit nothing is wrong in it. We attribute similar need to another manifestation of touch which is deeper and profound, that is sex. Sex if for procreation and hence it is pursued actively till the couple has one child or two. Post that happens, its necessity in life is reduced to a point where its very existence is in threat.
We fail to interpret sex as a language of closeness, sex as a physical language, sensual language to fan the erotic flame, that is so important for a loving relationship. And it is not something we have not though of. It is something we have been given and so is Veer’s wife.
For his wife, her body is a prison. Her body is the sum total of all cultural, familial restrictions, inhibitions, taboos and anxieties she has absorbed since her childhood. Since her sexuality was controlled, she was never able to accept and enjoy the expressive capacity of her body. In all likelihood her desire in sex waned as its role in procreation was over.
Now is this fixable? Can Veer understand that his wife’s alienation from him is not because of her rejection of him but is the result of a deep rooted conditioning about sex as not a source of pleasure. Similarly can Veer’s wife read the new language of body that exhibits the tenderness of Veer’s feelings towards her? Yes, to end this impasse, both partners have to become fluent in the language of other. The importance of physicality of body has to be communicated, through playfulness, through a rhythm in which two bodies interact. Their bodies have to interact to each other.