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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Teenaged love on Tree trunks: A Thing of Past

Defacing monuments with love messages is a bad habit but wherever you go in India, you will find such scribblings on the walls of ancient structures.

It's a sort of habit for many. Some write their name just for fun. Others do it to see if the name survives for long even if the next visit is several years later. Others do it out of an itch to scribble.

In most parks, you will see names of couples written on the trunks of trees. Rahul-Ragini, written in circle or Salim-Saima in the midst of a heart made out of a tree branch or any other pointed metal object.

I have seen couples writing their names. Teenagers avoiding the gaze of the guards to etch their names. Youth often write the name of their beloved along with their name even if there is no hope of union.

Perhaps they get satisfaction with such a declaration at a public place. Telling the nature and the world. There is probably a feeling that the lovers may not get united in real life but at least, on the tree trunk or the monument the names will remain together for long and for others to see.

Unrequited love is a unique thing in Indian sub-continent. Either it is the concept of a youth wasting his life just for the sake of a girl though he may never have even proposed to her. Or those who manage to get promises of marriage but the girl later goes by her parents' wishes and when she comes back with her husband and kids, she introduces the heart-broken guy to her children saying, 'Meet mama ji'. And the mamu remains a joke for the locality for ever.

With changing times and the advent of cell phone, this form of love is also changing. Earlier, whenever I went to the parks I could see freshly written names. Lately I have noticed that the trunks of Deodar and Asoka trees no longer had any fresh etchings.

The old names were fading away and there was no fresh attempt to write the names. It was a weekly off and I decided to go to a couple of parks where I used to spent time when I was unemployed more than a decade back.

There were all sorts of couples in the park. But not a single tree had a freshly written name. No recent scratch. In a way it is good to see that the trees are no longer assaulted. In went to the other park and noticed the same thing. In a park in Hyderabad early this year, I had noticed it.

It's not that easy to write names though. It takes an effort and time to write the name apart from the fact that one has to be watchful of the security guys. Though the dirty scribblings in the train toilets and similar other graffiti haven't disappeared, but it seems the trees are no longer the targets of lovelorns.

Is it that the present generation has no interest in immortalising their love or that they feel it's a waste. After all, why affix your name to someone or devote yourself to a single person's love? In the times of SMS and cell phones, it's easy to leave one and latch on to the next, rather that remaining lost in romance for your entire life.