An Open Letter to the Uninhibitedly Affectionate

Dear audacious citizen,

Before I delve into my thoughts, I want to clarify: just like you, I am a shameless advocate of uninhibited affection. I love stealing pecks on a rickshaw, I love hugging my partner and kissing her forehead whenever we meet, wherever we meet. I haven’t shied away from her rose-petal like lips, and let the moment possess me, like you must have that rainy day. It’s wonderful and liberating to let go in a moment like that; to not have to hold back affection. Both me and my partner have always known, that there are (and will always be) prying eyes, muttered curses, and maybe a few hidden prayers for our salvation. Be it in a cafe, or on a crowded bus stand, or in the packed line for tickets to ‘Logan’ at Blockbuster. My expression of love used to be just that earlier on, but nowadays, it is a statement. Statement against those dreary, quivering, wide eyes filled with apprehension, overlooking things that need to be seen. I’ve never seen a reason to hold myself back. Why not? Because I’ll hurt someone’s sense of civility? What is civility and do we know the first thing about it?

The views of my compatriots astound me. I don’t see anyone decrying for a lack of civility every time men (in herds) leer at a woman hanging for her life from the handles inside a crowded bus, with her head bowed and eyes diverted in excruciating discomfort. Instead, the very same men play a games of brushy brushy. The very dirt they litter floods our cities. Their disputes, their differences cost us lives of ourselves and our loved ones. As products of this culture, we’ve always loved to attack first, and ask questions later. Look around, look at the newspaper. Discourse is a myth. You’re either with them or against them. They’ll debase you for being yourself, they’ll violate you for not being a man, they’ll defame you, slut-shame you, batter you with sticks and stones for fighting for what you believe in. Begs to ask, who are we to cry about civility when neither of us know the first thing about it?

People losing their minds over a couple showing affection in a public place is not an old debate. It’s always existed in form or another. People have opinions and will always have opens, no matter where you chose to let love blind you. Be it the ‘sacred’ grounds of the ‘Oxford of the East’ or inside a room out of their sight. Nothing will stop them from judging you. They will call a simple gesture of affection an irredeemable, vile show of lack of character. We Bengalis are a fun and boisterous bunch. We make the most mundane matters the talk of own in a matter of minutes. There is more diversity in the kinds of issues we go venomously at each others’ throats over, than in our workplaces, or in the inclusion agenda of the society. We are so divided, an invading army wouldn’t need anything more than a picture of Nayela Nayem in a tiger striped sundress to have us on our knees in a week. That begs to ask, do we have our priorities in check?

However, rape doesn’t bother them, because the victims always deserve, after all, doesn’t it take two to tango? Slaughtering of minorities, and people of other faiths (or none there of) retrieves barely a guffaw. Child marriage is an irrelevant tabloid headline, a misery for the suburbs; cruelty to animals is just a viral video they scroll down, because who cares how some unclean mongrel was battered to death with a tree trunk? No. Their disdain is meant for what Shakib Al Hasan’s wife wears to a party. Their disapproval is meant for girls choosing to represent the nation in a sport, rather than pursue a simple life as a veiled housewife. Their hatred is for people with views that don’t match their own. Their rage, their negativity is unfortunately misdirected. I hope someday they wake up from their slumber spanning multiple generations, wake up from a form of apathy that has left the nation in tatters.

I want you to know, I am proud of you for what you did. To live as life should be lived, to love as love is meant to be experienced. You are a living statement in this world full of negativity, bigotry and apathy. I hope they realize that someday.

Best regards,

Another shameless lover.

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