Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Marriage Versus Myself

I'm back. I better be. A few more weeks of absence and I would have forgotten my Blogger password. And a few months later, I could have found myself telling people: "I also used to have a blog." If that really happens, who should I blame? Myself, or marriage?

Technically, myself. Because I have all the time in the world to think and to write. And my wife does not whine when I sit at the computer. In fact, she wonders what's wrong with me the days I ignore my laptop. The late nights still belong to me, and nothing stops me from pouring a drink and start writing.

But psychologically, I would blame marriage. I might have all the time in the world, and I might have a wife who recognises my need to write, even if it's a blog post, but of what use are they if I don't get the urge to write? When you live alone, you are at constant conversation with yourself. And the conversation shakes your mind like a soda bottle: the contents are bound to spill out, in the form of writing or whatever. But when you have a partner living with you, and when you have a conversation with her, it is like mixing the soda with whisky: you drink, you are high and happy, you have dinner and go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day. Life goes on, and then one day, years later, you look into the mirror to find an entirely different person than you had believed yourself to be.

Moral of the story: soul-searching might lead to happiness, but happiness could be the biggest impediment to soul-searching. And without soul-searching, there would be no creativity. Is that why most creative men are so unhappily married? I am not seeking to generalise, but going merely by instances recorded in history, East or West. Einstein was a compulsive womaniser, and so was Picasso. Our own Khushwant Singh, on the other hand, is a compulsive talker about womanising but has been a faithful husband and has led a happy life – is that why he turns out such bad, albeit readable (because of the gossip), prose?

Tagore had his share of lovers; while Satyajit Ray was madly in love with his favourite actress till his wife confronted him about the affair and he fell at her feet, literally, to apologise. My favourite writer and singer were married four times each – that is Hemingway and Kishore Kumar. Down South, the most creative of actors and directors, Kamal Hassan, has already been married twice and is seen these days in the company of actress Gowthami.

The list of unhappily married celebrity men is very, very long. The latest addition to it is Aamir Khan, whose second marriage, according Stardust, is also said to be in doldrums.

But the list of happily married men is also very long. But it does not consist of celebrities I aspire to be. It comprises mostly of friends and relatives, who fed themselves so much on happiness and contentment that their waistlines swelled and their chins doubled and tripled. And an expanded waistline is the biggest enemy of productivity/creativity.

I once had a friend who studied journalism with me in Kanpur. In fact, I owe my career to him, in the sense that while we were still in college, he had coaxed me into coming to Lucknow to meet the editor of a paper. The editor happened to be out of town the day we went, and I gave up. But the next morning, my friend was again at my door, at 6, asking me to get ready to take the bus to Lucknow. I hurriedly got ready. We finally met the editor. I got the job, he didn’t.

A few months later, he managed to get in too, as a reporter. I envied him, for he was a reporter, while I was deskbound. But his father envied none of us: he sought the ultimate happiness for his son – a government job. So a promising reporter became a clerk in LIC. The new, ‘secure’ job was rapidly followed by marriage and a kid. The last I saw my friend, even though he lives in the neighbourhood, was 10 years ago: happiness and contentment radiated through his potbelly. He had no desire left in life: he had reached his destination. I was happy for him.

But the problem with creative men is that they have no fixed destination: they are vagabonds whose happiness lies in unhappiness, and who go wherever life takes them. They can never plan things like, “Ok, for five years I will work in this place, and then I will take a transfer back to my hometown, where I shall live happily ever after.”

That’s because a plan means topping one-fourth of a glass of whisky with soda. Whereas creativity means holding just the whisky: you have no idea what you are going to mix it with – it could be tap water or soda or Sprite, depending on the circumstances.

And life, post marriage, becomes a plan. You no longer listen to your heart, but only your head. And that’s when it shows on the waistline. If I were to listen to my head, I would have stopped blogging. The head would have reasoned: what do I get out of blogging, except for getting 25 readers? Isn’t it such as waste of time, when you could spend that time doing something constructive? But there is a heart that reasons: isn’t it great that you are able to reach out to 25 people, who share your thought process? What can be more constructive than that?

I would rather listen to the heart. Listening to the head would mean forgoing the little pleasures that life has to offer.

What, then, happens to creative women? Are they also faced with the same dilemma as men? Of course, they are, only that their sentiments rarely matter. Even today, even in cities, where women are supposed to be on par with men, it is the wife who settles for whatever job comes her way each time the husband gets a transfer or wants a transfer to a new place. Marriage itself is usually a transfer for her – to a place she night not want to be in. But then she opts for the transfer sportingly because she knows that’s how it is supposed to be.

Not only that, a woman also has to pretend to be happy in marriage, even though happiness, as I just said, could be an impediment to creativity. A man can nourish his creativity by proclaiming his supposed unhappiness to other women, who provide him the zing that he is looking for; but a woman can’t make such proclamations, for the simple reason that she will be seen as loose or horny. So they suffer.

In other words, it is so much easier for a man to balance marriage and ‘myself’, provided he has the brains. But a woman gladly settles for ‘us’ rather than ‘myself’. For example, here I am, cribbing about not being able to blog regularly because of marriage, but how often do I pause to think of the things that my wife is not able to do after her marriage to me?


dharmabum said...

hey BG, an update at last! lots of food for though. the whiskey though, i prefer it neat.

can completely relate to the bit about being alone as opposed to living in the company of someone.

dharmabum said...

* food for thought.

pardon the typo.

Anonymous said...

thanks bish! from the 25 of us for being there.

the mad momma said...

:) well its nice to hear the male side of it.. i often wonder what my husband misses out on after marriage.. he claims he misses nothing much but the odd basketball game. for that too I cannot be blamed because his basketball pals have moved away... just came across your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed it..there's something beautiful about reading about a man who is content..

RS said...

Oh this was absolutely brilliant. So well-thought out, so effectively argued from both perspectives.

We're ready to settle for such hibernations if what you churn out at the end of them turns out to be so lovely!

Anonymous said...

lol.. the last line was not necessary. By now your readers know you love and respect your wife....

as for the first line...that was a relief!!

btw, sunday spin was enough to prove that you have finally settled down..

happy writing..

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ghosh,
A very well written post. I am surprised by the meager numbers you claim for visitors to this site. I am visiting this space ever since you wrote an article on how Mr. Ratnam addresses his minions as offsprings of Canis lupus familiaris (Dog) and I am glad I do.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Creativity demands exclusivity. Exclusivity feeds on isolation .Isolation breeds imagination. Imagination excavates writing.

I always tell my husband that it takes at least one divorce to be famous. It is socially important to be committed but psychologically impossible, especially when one is constantly motivated by an inner turmoil. If a composition.( be it a book or a painting or a poetry or a tune) is a child, it is like seeing your first love while you are writhing in delivery pain .. At that point, nothing else or no body else matters other than the baby.

All creative men are unhappily married. It is a logical culmination. They are unhappy since their creativity is under reins. There is an apparent selfishness in all creative spirits. You turn defensive, frightened to loose your soul and creation and zealously guard them. Even the nearest and dearest one becomes a threat. Is there any zing thing?

Every commitment becomes a stoic hindrance.

Anonymous said...

A post at last!!

Thought that you had become a teetotaller when no posts were forthcoming.

women,whisky,relationships,edgy souls......ah!vintage BG!

Anonymous said...

behind every married man who is a vagabond, there is bound to be a wife with a steady job. I bet mrs. blogger is a slogger at some regular job.

Paresh Palicha said...

"Deprivation often makes a writer." Ved Mehta.

What a paradox. We strive for happiness, seek companionship etc. etc. But when we've them, it dawns on us that they've sapped all our juices.

Sabarmati View said...

Hi BG,

Well, it's nice to know that there's a man who also spares a thought for married women. As they say behind every unsucessful woman, there's a man. Can happiness be as intensely felt as pain and loneliness? no i don't think so. that's why you write most eloquently when there's vaccum, there's longing...

P S.. By the way. Murli has gone on a month long trek to Gangotri and here i am managing everything on my own (especially when the temperature is around 42 degree celcius). But then I shouldn't complain because my marriage would have collpased long back if i had 24x7 husband.

Gayathri Varma said...

An absolutely thought provoking post!
It reminded me of this quote from Wilde.

"Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience."

- Oscar Wilde

Bohemian said...

BG,You spoke my mind !
Good thinking...

Vidwata said...

next time you can quote 'my 26 readers' :)

Hi, it was a great post. Half way through I was almost skeptical that you kept rambling about creative men. It was good to see you balance you created later.

Great post. In fact if I read it again. I think I will be up to a sequel... something in the line of : 'Marriage and Myself'

Anonymous said...

"marriage and children kill creativity in men" :)

Anonymous said...

Bish, this one post made a lot of sense. I should say it is one the best, for it speaks the truth and three cheers to you for having put the right words in the right place to convey a simple truth about creativity. i guess as creative people, we dont care about what we put into the whisky...and when we do put in anything, we have the guts to be passionate aboutt eh result, no? forget being a married wife who suffers her husbands transfers, am finding it hard to even get a man to marry because they think am "passionate" which in their own lingo is "obsessive". never knew the ability to feel intensly could become a curse for a normal living.
still i say, "cheers to creativity". our breed will survive.

wildflower said...

"But the problem with creative men is that they have no fixed destination: they are vagabonds whose happiness lies in unhappiness, and who go wherever life takes them. They can never plan things" and "happiness is an impediment to creativity"...loved these words.
...and i dread marriage, coz m sure marriage can't gimme da soulmate i have been craving for all my life... pals think i am different from them, ( coz i write n blog n do stuff) of them has even predicted an early divorce in case i get married...she said poets can never be happy...n both u n i know that, u can't be a poet if u r happy... he he
cheers! nice to have u back! :)

wildflower said...

forgot to add...thanx for having thought about women, never knew, you could do well!

Anubhuti said...

Hey Bhagwan, I did not cheat, I swear !!