Sunday, February 15, 2009

Forbidden love


By Shevlin Sebastian

A couple of years ago, Prem, 34, and Santhi, 32, went for a holiday to Idukki from Kochi. It was the Christmas season and rooms were difficult to get. At 9.30 p.m., they were stopped by the police outside a hotel. “I told them Prem and I were husband and wife,” says Shanti. “But they refused to believe me.”

The two of them were taken to the police station and under intense questioning by the Sub Inspector Santhi finally admitted they were lovers. “I told the SI the police had not caught us in a compromising position or without clothes or in a raid,” she says. “And neither was Prem drunk. I said, ‘You picked us up as we were looking for a room. How can we be found guilty in a court of law?’”

The SI agreed and released them. Thereafter, the couple enjoyed a blissful holiday. “It was so cold we enjoyed the warmth of each other’s bodies,” says Prem.

Prem is married and has two children. He met Santhi when she traveled regularly in a bus in which he was the driver. Their eyes met several times, love bloomed and they went on their first date to Marine Drive.

“We expressed our feelings for each other,” says Santhi. “I told him I was a sex worker and he looked shocked. But he loved me so deeply that he overcame the feelings of jealousy that he felt.”

Prem says, “I wanted to marry Santhi, to prevent her from working, but she did not agree.”

Shanti says that when Prem proposed she dilly-dallied a bit. “He is a good man and I craved genuine male affection,” she says. “And marrying him would have enabled me to get out of my profession.”

But after much reflection she felt it would create far more complications in an already difficult life. Shanti is a mother of three girls, the eldest is 14, while the twins are 12 years old. Her aged parents also live with her.

She realised that if she accepted Prem’s proposal it would destroy two families. “As it is, my husband had abandoned me ten years ago,” she says. “It would have been selfish on my part if I also walked away from my family. Since I know the pain of a break-up, I did not want Prem’s family to go through that.”

Prem has accepted that there will be no marriage, but the couple meets often, and in an unusual manner. An auto-rickshaw driver now, Prem collects Santhi from her house and they go for long drives. Then they end up in a lodge.

“I give him Rs 200 or Rs 300, depending on what is in my purse,” she says. “I am earning well and I love him.”

Prem says, “I know this is a forbidden love. But Santhi is pretty and sweet and the sex is great.”

Shanti giggles when he says that.

(Names have been changed)

Love across the social divide

Neethi is 21. Her parents live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Two years ago she came to Kochi to do her B.A. degree in St. Teresa’s College. She stayed with her grandmother. Every now and then she would take an autorickshaw to go to college.

More times than not, it was the same driver, Mani, 32. “Initially I did not find him attractive at all,” she says. “But we gradually started talking. I felt lonely because I had no friends.”

A year went past. The conversations continued, but it remained a platonic relationship. “Before I knew it I had fallen in love,” she says. “I know I am being foolish. Mani has no education, and no money. If I marry him it will be a disaster.”

The affair would have remained under wraps except that her affluent parents wanted to marry her off. Neethi had no option but to spill the beans about her affair. “My parents were horrified,” she says. “My mother beat me up a few times.”

At this moment, the stalemate continues. She is unyielding and her parents are frustrated and angry.

(The New Indian Express, Chennai)

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