Today, I am attempting to talk of a subject which is super close to my heart, and it is also extremely interesting for all those walking along the twisted paths of human emotions, some of which that remain dormant by our stiff boundaries most of the times, only to be explored and experienced, at times of an emotional cataclysm or confusion.
Platonic, as defined by modern dictionaries, talk of relationships that may have absolute love and affection, but is devoid of sexuality. And while it might seem like a pretty simple, and obvious definition, if you dig deeper into your heart, and think of all the friendships you have had in your life, can you honestly tell me how many of them were Completely Platonic?
And since it is very difficult to eloquent, I am going to have to take examples to give you an insight into what I feel on the subject.
Rhea and Krish are very good friends. They became friends because of a shared love for all things artistic and they connected at that rare level of camaraderie and chemistry that is hard to find. Rhea loved talking to him, because he spoke her language, and had a really intense way of calming her otherwise restless-self down. She relied on him for her dose of intellect, of soul-stirring conversations and of companionship. Krish, like most men, was probably initially attracted to Rhea, purely at a physical level, but when he began knowing her, he understood how she was also beautiful inside. His days are now incomplete without talking to her. He craves how their friendship makes him want to live a little longer, be a little better.
Has he ever thought of crossing the line with her? – Maybe.
Has she? – No.
Is she capable of? – Maybe.
Does she feel slightly uncomfortable, and a little intimidated by his presence? – Yes.
Is she careful about how she looks, what she’s wearing and how she conducts herself around him? – Sure.
Does she feel butterflies in her stomach when she sees him? – Yes.
But uncomfortable, intimidated, butterflies – Do these chemical reactions qualify to be sexual in nature?
Even if one out of the two has ever had the instinct of sensuality with the other person, does it automatically mean that the relationship has turned non-platonic?
Did anything ever happen between them? – No.
But, does anything physically ever need to happen to make a friendship non-platonic? – Hell, no, because, isn’t what happens in the spaces of our brains more potent than any reality?
Is it wrong to pursue such non-platonic friendships? – Not according to me!
One of Rhea’s closest friends, Abhi, from college called her the other day – They began chatting away just like old times. Abhi would complement Rhea incessantly, sometimes about how well-styled she looked on her social media pages, and at other times, praising her about her commitment towards her work. Rhea and Abhi spoke about fashion, about the latest trends in Bollywood, about diet and lifestyle and what not. They always had each other’s back.
There is absolutely zero level of attraction between Rhea and Abhi – And there is no “apparent” sexual instinct between the two.
Does that mean that theirs is a relationship that is Completely Platonic?
But, tell me, being created as man and woman with inbuilt sexual wiring, is it ever possible to classify something into Completely Platonic, devoid of even a shred of non-platonic entities?
My study on this powerful topic, led to me to think of Charulata.
Charu was Rabindranath Tagore’s character from his famous story, The Broken Nest, turned into one of the most subliminal films by Satyajit Ray.
If you haven’t watched it yet, it is a must watch – For those who do not like to watch old movies, you can also get a flavor of the story from The Stories by Rabindranath Tagore, available on Netflix.
An insight into Charu’s mind spreads a lot of light on the subject.
Charu was a lonely wife in an era where Bengali women just had a few things to accomplish – Cook, Dress-Up, Be a Good Wife. When face-to-face with Amal, her brother-in-law who begins mentoring her singing, she begins to change into the woman of today, a girl uninhibited by societal norms, a girl who began taking part in her hobbies, who stopped playing the only role that was bestowed upon her, that of being a homemaker.
In addition, her chemistry with Amal was palpable – She spent all her time with him, singing, conversing of faraway lands and feeding him his favorite fish-curries.
Did she love him? – Of course, because all friendships are affairs of the heart.
But soon, this love, whose manifestation up until a while ago was squeaky platonic, began turning non-platonic. Feelings of possessiveness, of obsession and of jealousy began overpowering her.
But are these feelings enough to turn a relationship into non-platonic?
Or is a clear demarcation of sexual attraction needed for it to qualify?
Most importantly, even if it wasn’t apparent or not explicitly advertised, was there a growing, but dormant sexual energy between Charu and Amal?
And isn’t that the reason Amal left abruptly, without saying goodbye to his favorite Boudi, in the last scene that was vulnerable and heart-wrenching to say the least?
And why did he leave? – Did he sense his growing affection and attraction towards Charu and decided to create boundaries that were never to be jumped over?
But, tell me, if you have to create boundaries in your head about what is acceptable in a friendship, the mere act of jotting those boundaries down in your head, puts the relationship in a non-platonic space, doesn’t it?
I came to a few conclusions.
First – I am now going to use the word Latent, whenever I speak of this – Latent is a pretty tricky word by itself – Meaning, it is a state that is existing but not yet developed – It is there, but not there – It is hidden, until that opportune moment where it can be unleashed.
So, platonic disappears if the relationship encounters a certain level of latent sexual energies – It could be a single moment, a collection of moments, by one or the other or both parties in the relationship. One or both involved may not even know of this latency, they may disagree or ignore it, however, an instant of circumstances could get them face to face with their own feelings.
Second & Final – Although I have spoken about platonic relationships in much detail here, in my head, it is still a label. My conclusion would be to know the complexities of relationships and friendships, but lead life free of labels.
We always don’t need to define who we are and what we mean to some people. That leads us to a space where, love, affection, friendships, emotions are free-flowing – I know it sounds like hippie-cult, but going against a natural instinct is really going against nature, no?
Your feelings, your attractions, your wiring is all a part of Nature’s doing – Then being the ardent admirer of free-flowing energies and vibes, who are we, as mere mortals to define something that is probably not meant to be defined, but only to be experienced?
Tagore’s story, The Broken Nest, on which Charulata was made, ends at a very similar junction, ending with a Bengali word, Thaak, meaning, let it be.