SONGSOPTOK: ‘Marriage is a lifelong symphony with one central theme but the music is played in anew everyday’ – this is a rough translation of a line from a short story by Rabindranath Tagore. Do you feel that this comment, made in a period dominated by Victorian romanticism, is true today? 

KOLPITA: It depends entirely on the couple. If a couple wants to make the marriage a lifelong symphony, with new pleasantries and surprises every day, the husband and wife are blessed, fortunate and wise. If they quarrel and engage in a bitter battle every day, let their egos tumble out, there won't be any place for peace and happiness, let alone romanticism. There should be, however, healthy arguments between a couple as that adds music to their life-long relationship.

SONGSOPTOK: What, in your opinion, is the real chemistry of an intimate relationship? Do you think that the social institution of marriage is based on that chemistry? 

KOLPITA: The real chemistry of an intimate relationship is based upon love,   mutual respect and physical attraction. The social institution of marriage in our country and society is not always based upon that chemistry. Marriage in most cases is a matrimonial alliance, especially in rich and influential households, such as the ones we see in political and business families. In middle class families today, there are girls and boys who are setting up independent families after marrying according to their choices, but arranged marriages too are very common in this social ferment. Now it is not necessary that all arranged marriages are bad or lead to misunderstandings and end up in divorce. We frequently see this happening in love as well as arranged marriages. When we are young and are attracted towards the opposite sex, we often are unaware or tend to overlook the negative aspects of the person. It is only after we settle down in a married relationship that we discover the grey areas. Now no individual is perfect. We have our myriad mood swings and expect others to understand that. They expect us to understand them. As long as both sides understand each other and respect the opposite's mental frame of mind, there's no problem. If both sides fail to strike a balance, it leads to a disastrous relationship. I have often heard our elders say if one person fails, the other should stand up and try to make the marriage work through patience and adjustment. However, I don't think this can go on forever as there is a limit to a person's patience. Then again there are third party factors like parental interference, which have quite often resulted in break-ups between couples. 

SONGSOPTOK: What according to you are the main factors for keeping marital relationship alive and healthy? 

KOLPITA: As I have mentioned in the aforesaid answer, love, mutual respect for each other, trust, deep & profound understanding between the couple and a hearty sexual relationship are the factors behind a healthy man-woman/man-man/woman-woman relationship. A couple should be friends first and there should not be any hierarchy.

 SONGSOPTOK: Very often we see that a happy marital relationship results when one of the partners surrender to the other’s ego. Do you think this is how it should be? Especially since it is most often the woman that surrenders to the man, or more generally to the patriarchal system? 

KOLPITA: When a partner, man or woman (in most cases the woman), surrenders to his/her partner's ego completely, s/he is desperately trying to make the marriage work. This could be out of complete dependence on her husband as she may not be financially independent, or s/he is blindly in love with the man/woman. The fact that divorce is still a social scandal also forces the woman, or the man, to accept the marriage, however it is. This kind of marriage is a one-sided adjustment and cannot be labelled as a happy marriage.

SONGSOPTOK: Tolstoy said in his story THE KREUTZER SONATA “... a marriage without love is no marriage at all, that only love sanctifies marriage, and that the only true marriage is that sanctified by love”. We all agree that this is how it should be. That there should not be a tragic end to any marriage. What is the reason then for the increasing number of divorces in all societies? 

KOLPITA: Falling out of love, lack of physical and emotional chemistry, and attraction towards another person or his/her entry in life and most importantly being unable to adjust or bear each other's presence and lack of understanding are the major reasons for the increasing number of divorces.

SONGSOPTOK: By the word ‘marriage’ we generally think of a well defined relationship built on the tenet of spending the entire life together. Do you think that this in itself creates a type of suffocation which leads to break-ups and divorces? 

KOLPITA: When we marry, it is expected and understood that we will live together forever. If a relationship is profound, it won't end up being suffocating, but if there's no love, chemistry or understanding and respect, one should leave immediately because that will most certainly choke the relationship. However, it is easier said than done as there are innumerable factors that keep a couple from legally and socially breaking up. The most important factor being under-aged children. Social pressures too become a hindrance against taking such a decision.

SONGSOPTOK: In a very general way, marriage is understood as the cohabitation of man and woman with a view to reproduction. Can this narrow and very physical dimension be the essence of marriage? Doesn’t the success of marriage depends also on a communion between the personality, psychology and above all the soul of the married couple? What is your opinion? Do you think that in modern society such a definition of marriage is relevant and realistic? 

KOLPITA: Marriage became a social institution to create a reproductive society. Family is the first unit of a political system. That is why gay marriages pose a threat to most governments. Because the state needs to maintain a military machinery, it propagates a heterosexual society and calls a lesbian or a homosexual relationship evil and anti-religious. As a part of society, most individuals have been falling prey to this state propaganda. With family, came the division and inheritance of property. Hence, society began to justify reproductive  marriages. Marriage without children is considered a barren marriage. There are pressures on the couple, more so on the woman, to reproduce. I am not saying children aren't important or welcome, but the point I am making is the will to produce and reproduce ought to be the couple's prerogative. It is a couple's decision, not society's. Again, I will make the same point. Without love, respect, trust, understanding and physical attraction, a marriage can't work. There are umpteen examples of divorced parents, who wage a bitter war over their children's custody. The picture is far too ugly.

SONGSOPTOK: It seems that in today’s society the clash of personalities, especially within marriage, is an unpleasant reality. Almost 100 years back, D.H.Lawrence said in Lady Chatterley's Lover “The modern cult of personality is excellent for friendship between sexes, and fatal for marriage”. In other words, he thought that the development of woman’s personality is actually a hindrance to successful marriage. What is your opinion? Do you think that it is the inability of the patriarchal society to tolerate the independence of women the main reason for the marital conflicts in today’s society? 

KOLPITA: Yes, Lawrence was right in many respects. A well-developed personality in a woman is difficult for most men to accept. Someone had told me once, a man of course, that it will be difficult for me to get married as I am too independent (laughs). A meek and timid woman finds place easily in a domestic household. A confident, intelligent and carefree woman is again seen as a threat. It is society's failure that it perceives such a woman as one. So yes, the modern cult of personality is excellent for friendship between the opposite sexes as there's no hierarchy. Unfortunately, marriage in a patriarchal society is full of hierarchies which is far from ideal.

SONGSOPTOKDo you think that society perceives a divorced man and woman in the same way? Most of the time we see that the woman is blamed for not making the necessary compromises. So the implicit assumption is that the success of a marriage is directly related to the woman’s capacity to compromise. What is you view? 

KOLPITA: As I have already mentioned, I have frequently heard my elders say, someone in the family has to adjust in order to make the marriage work. By someone, they most certainly mean the woman. I definitely don't buy this populist stance. 

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that divorce affects the conscious and the subconscious of the children? What, according to you, could be the effect of a divorce in their adult lives, positive or negative? 

KOLPITA: This is difficult to say. I once read a mother-daughter interview of Aparna Sen and Konkona Sen Sharma in a lifestyle magazine, where Konkona says that if a couple becomes incompatible, it is best to separate. She was obviously referring to the divorce between her actress mother and her father Mukul Sharma, whom we have briefly met in Aparna Sen's famed film about extra-marital relationship --- Paroma. Little Konkona had no problem with her parents' divorce. But there are children who grow up to be problematic adults like Aditi in Rituporno Ghosh's film Unishe April. Here Aditi (Debashree Roy) has lost her father as a child and grows up hating and envying her celebrity-dancer mother Sarojini (played by none other than Aparna Sen). She blames her mother for neglecting her and her father, for giving more importance to her dance than taking care of the family. Aditi is also willing to give up her career as a doctor to marry her middle class-bred male-chauvinist boyfriend to show her mother that she has succeeded in bringing up her family where her mother has failed. Aditi here has a faint similarity with the Greek mythological character Electra, who avenges the murder of her father Agamemnon by persuading her brother Orestes to kill their mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. It's a different matter that in Unishe April, Sarojini and Aditi finally reconcile on a stormy night when family truths ultimately emerge. 

SONGSOPTOK: Generally it is the mother who takes care of the children following a divorce. Although children need their mother more while growing up, what kind of impact can the absence of a father figure have on a growing child? So what according to you should be the role of the mother? 

KOLPITA: Single mothers raising children is an ancient phenomenon. Ancient Society, during the time of the Mahabharata, never questioned Hirimba for raising Ghatotkacha, by Pandava prince Bhim, single-handedly, or for that matter the Naga princess Ulupi for bringing up her son Iravan by the Pandava prince Arjuna alone, or the Manipuri princess Chitrangada for raising  Babruvahana, again by Arjuna, single-handedly. But as society became patriarchal, the father's identity emerged as utmost importance. However, peer pressure in a modern society often makes a child wonder about his/her father's absence. It is up to the mother to condition the child or children if she is raising them single-handedly. Ultimately, the hand that rocks the cradle has to be strong and firm and confident and fearless.

SONGSOPTOK: What according to you could be the impact of the growing number of divorces on the next generations? Or do you think this is the way tomorrow’s society will evolve? 

KOLPITA: Marriages and divorce are part of life. One has to take them as they come. I can only sincerely hope that men and women will be more comfortable finding their compatible partners. Respect others' choices and independence and not let egos get the upper hand. Children also will evolve and become independent. Having a strong parent, if she or he is single, will help matters. Single parents can't afford to be weak and helpless. That will only make matters worse for children. If single parents find suitable partners, they should let their children know about their importance and also assure them that new partners will in no manner affect the relationship between the mother/father and the children.



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