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May 5, 1997


Farzana Versey

Love does not live here any more

Dominic Xavier's illustration A woman slits her husband's finger, another one goes for a more delicate organ. A man stubs out cigarettes on his girlfriend's thighs or bites off an ear lobe.

Love hurts. More than we can imagine. A sudden whiplash in the silence. And fire. Leaping flames become the eloquent testimony of anger, unquenched passion, vengeance.

Love does not live here anymore. And the ashen remains bespeak not of its death, but of the potency of another, more dangerous emotion.

Obsession. The tornado that gives wind a bad name.

With a reputation that lies near his feet in smithereens and the loss of everything, including sometimes his sanity, what martyrdom can an obsessed love hope to earn?

It is in this inherent contradiction that you and I lose ourselves while the obsessed person finds his identity.

Killing for love does not take into consideration what is being killed -- the victim often is the very object of love.

Teenagers have been set on fire by young men whose advances they have spurned. What kind of obsession is it that turns a common eve-teaser into a killer and, therefore, an important enough individual to take note of?

Although we find the act gruesome, there is a part of us that identifies the criminal as the victim. Probably because we all have in us a lethal desire, however nebulous it be. In Camus' words, "All normal people... had more or less desired the death of those they loved, at some time or another."

There can be little doubt that, had the attempted murder been unsuccessful, the obsessed person have suffered a great amount of guilt.

There was the amazing case a few years ago of a 40-year-old man who tried to rape a woman who worked in the beauty parlor he owned. When she resisted his moves, he attempted to stab her. She managed to flee to the police station. When she returned with the cops, they found him lying in a pool of blood -- he had stabbed himself.

The psychological opinion is that overpossessiveness is love gone haywire. It is often merely a split second when positive feelings turn negative. In the attempted rape case, the man probably stabbed himself because he was ashamed at having lost control.

Not all crimes of passion are impulsive. Some are well planned out. Like the killing of the young girl in Bombay who was dragged from the examination centre, doused with kerosene and set afire. It was almost an act of epic proportions. The boy in question later committed suicide. He probably could not cope with his own creation.

While common folks like us just wallow in the rosy feeling, love sometimes becomes a bondage. The object of adoration, though a mere object, does succeed in taking away a large part of ourselves. And if there is no reciprocity, there is a complete breakdown.

I know I am sounding far too sympathetic towards those who deserve no such thing. We do read about how the mother of one such girl now tries to alleviate the problems of those who suffer atrocities. It is a natural progression, but it probably constantly reminds her of her own tragedy.

Among the many reasons attributed to such deviant behaviour is the expectation of maintaining the status quo and the alienation following a failure to do so.

And, in all this, love becomes just another word to be conjugated, and mauled at will.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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