Friday, March 7, 2014

Romance then and now

Either I am growing old or things are getting bad - whatever the reason, it makes me wonder why the world is chang­ing so much. Perhaps I should narrow it, down to why values have done an about turn.
Let me cite the example of a Mills & Boon romance. When I was a teenager, these books were our staple dessert after a meal of Pearl S Buck or Daphne due Maurier. Our parents frowned on our reading what they called ‘sentimental stuff’.
But the books weren’t so bad. They fol­lowed a steady formula - the good looking man who was boorish and insol­ent, the lovely lady who could not stand his arrogance but was secretly in love with him; the ravishing vamp who tried to monopolise the gent with her blonde hair and plunging neckline made it very nail biting.
True love ran into pretty heavy weather till almost the last page when truth would dawn. The man confessed his love which had sprung almost after the second page and the woman went saucer­ eyed and squealed with delight as she had beaten him to it by discovering her love in the third para.  All was well and to seal the happy occasion, they embraced and kissed. All very wholesome and according to the book of rules.
To-day’s version of the same romances is a lot more permissive.  The man and woman declare their passion in the sixth para, vow to be each other’s possession and by the end of the book, have done everything except get married. Graphic descriptions of their passion punctuate the narrative and the romance just about rises above pornography, thanks to the introduction of roses, moonlight and gen­tle rustling of leaves!
Yet, these books are avidly read by young teenagers and little wonder that they consider it quite the acceptable thing to ‘give themselves wholly’ to the one they love.
Which brings me to this latest trend in the media. A popular TV serial shows a young girl who tells her mother she’d like to go through her pregnancy and keep her baby despite the death of her fiance. Her rationale is that the baby is a part of her love which she’d like to cherish. Leaving aside her mother’s fear of society, she says she cares two hoots for that because though she wasn’t legally wedded to her fiance, she was spiritually his.
Now, why not do away with the ex­penses and headaches of a proper wed­ding when a ‘spiritual’ alliance costs so little! What a boon to parents who will not have to give a dowry.
Honestly, this is getting ridiculous. It’s all very well to show that women are no more than slaves of social norms but does one have to go to the other extreme and wipe out time-tested and value-based codes of behaviour? It’s a pity that the Constitution does not provide for guar­dians of certain fundamental values.
At the rate we are going, marriage will dwindle down to a visit to the temple, exchanging of garlands and then rushing to the labour ward to give birth to a child conceived months ago.

I would rather have my lost world back.