A friend posted the link to his facebook page (where this piece was originally posted) one day in Twitter. I don't know what happened afterwards but a few hours later when I tried to access the page through the link for the second time that day, it's no longer there.
Maybe there was a sudden rush of visitors to the page and perhaps he wasn't comfortable with it.
I'm really glad to be able to find the complete version.
I own nothing of this piece and I have no intention of whatsoever to claim it as mine by posting it on my blog. If only this has been posted on his page (other than Facebook), I'd put the link to it, but I just haven't found it yet.
I posted it here because it is really a beautiful, thought provoking piece, and I just have to share it to the world.
So here goes.
A Love Not Colonizing - Farish A. Noor
The narrative of love is peculiar in its static monotony and the fact that it can nonetheless appeal to the one addressed. Though the same utterances are made time and again, and the words have been spoken since time immemorial, three simple words strung together in a sentence stir the emotions of the one to whom they are directed, and even the most rational counsel fails to temper the heart-strings, once pulled. Reason tries in vain to pull back the reins of passion, but the emotions have bolted heavenwards.
Yet the litany of love rings hollow once the magic spell is broken; the hitherto-wondrous Other returns to the realm of the mundane and the ordinary; flight is grounded as angels' wings are clipped - the one you held resumes a human countenance, riddled with the flaws and failings of the mortal.
Pain arises from the breaking of trust; the betrayal of innocence. Her touch is poisonous, venomous. The Self recoils in horror, the horror of knowing.
Can there be a love not colonising?
A love not grasping, beholding, robbing and stealing? A love that does not invade that sacred space of one's self-knowing, the secret garden we all have and are entitled to have, the garden of nostaligic longings and regret, pain passed, hopes dashed, lost smiling memories, quiet moments of solitude and lonely walks down the pathways of memory and reflection.
Chauduri's thoughts on the four windows of the soul come to mind: No matter how open we are, we all have - and must have - a private space, a secret garden, to call our own.
And no matter how closed we might be, we all can - and must - have that capacity to open up to the Other when the situation arises.
Yet this tension between opening and closing, between sharing and privacy, is a secret tension we all bear upon ourselves. It is our lot, as sentient beings who love and can love and wish to love. But it is a sacred tension; a higher, nobler lament, that we must carry knowingly and with respect.
There lies the moral dilemma of love: To love, to want, to wish to possess; and yet to restrain ourselves from that maddening, insane, irrational temptation to possess the Other entirely. Like some childlike infantile longing to grasp with clammy hands the Other and in that suffocating embrace arrest the Other for eternity, to freeze the Other in the gaze of the lover and to render immobile, arrested, policed, the object of love as an object possessed; though in this case it is the lover who is possessed.
How many times have I suffered this tiresomely repetitive episode; like some tawdry soap opera that is repeated ad infinitum for want of anything else to entertain. The same sad, pathetic, sickening spectacle of the Other, clumsy in love, stupid in jealousy, childish in conceit, irrational in faith, intolerant and oppressive in longing: The Other who enters your space, is welcomed into the privacy of one's most intimate and innermost confession, only to see the colonising tentacles of possessiveness uncoil and reach out, grasping, touching, moving and removing all those things that are so dear to me.
'I only want you for myself'; 'I want to love you for myself', 'I only want to start a new life with you', 'I only want you to forget your past', and so on, and so forth: the plaintive cries of the other are so, so, tiring and predictable; they no longer move, they no longer affect.
How odd, and sad, that the one who professes love is often the one who doesn’t understand what it is, and what it entails.
To talk of love and loving is glib and facile; living with the attendant responsibilities of respect and ethics is something else entirely. The former is the aspiration, the latter the deed.
How many times have I witnessed this sad pantomine of misguided emotions let loose? How many times have my space been invaded, my possessions divested, my memories trampled upon and forced to retreat before the advance of the one who professes love but who only imposes?
How many times have I returned only to find that one other memory of mine has been robbed from me; one more photograph displaced, one more letter torn or burnt, one more note effaced. How many times have my space been invaded by the intrusive claws of this thing they call Love.
Our pain and our past make us who and what we are. There are those who try to forget, but some of us try to reconcile and re-member the broken body of our shattered history as best we can; and to live and live on, as scarred bodies that carry the shards and fragments of our broken pasts embedded in our selves.
My pains and my memories are mine, and nobody has the right to rob me of them. To love, and to utter those fateful words that profess that love, is never easy: One loves only when one can accept the other in the Other's totality, warts and all, flaws notwithstanding. Yet how many times have I been proven wrong, and how many times have my judgment faltered. Every outward gesture, every invitation, has instead been met with intrusion, invasion, violation of my private space, my Self.
Oh, for a love not colonising. For a love that is born out of acceptance and not wanting, not possessing, not clasping, not suffocating.
For a love that can sit by your side on the park bench, quietly smiling, watching from close yet afar, with wonderment and tenderness.
For a love that sees with eyes that do not spy; hands that touch but never clutch.
A love content, quiet, still in its constancy and that says to itself: "Here beside me is the man I love, in a world entirely his own, vast, expansive, rich".
How far am I from that happy land; and for now all I am left with are my memories that echo like footsteps in the dark.
Yet rather that than possession; may nothing and no-one ever own me.