Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Fest #TheKiss @WEP


The Fest

In Saam Ved it was uttered:

 अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्

(ayam bondhuryam neti gonona laghuchetasam)

उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्७१

(udaracharitanan tu Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam)

meaning,“Parochial minds differentiate between friends and others. Magnanimous minds recognize worldwide family ties.”

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Mou never let Valentine’s day go dry. Even though she was single on the day, she never missed any Annual Kiss Festival at Shahid Minar ground.

Sight of couples in the festival arena brought uneasy awkwardness when she arrived there alone. To prevent awkwardness Mou resorted to explore the Kiss fest adventurously.

The year before last year she approached the cluster of lesbians, looking forward to finding some single souls. Ill-fated she discovered that they mostly came in pairs. However, one liberal couple blessed her with bliss of kiss. Each one favored equal kissing opportunity. So, Mou got two kisses. It was heaven with one and it was stale with the other.

Last year she attempted to disguise as a man to catch some gay kisses. It appeared men were more conservative than the women. No couple were willing to bestow Mou a kiss. Besides, they rated Mou as lesbian. Before the closing bell of the festival, Mou could barely convince one that she was just a woman trapped in a male body.

It was never so discriminatory during the early years of the festival, when Mou first bumped into its arena unmindfully. She was completely oblivious of her festive surroundings until a sudden kiss disrupted her thoughts.

The kisser was generous. He touched Mou’s uvula, bitten her tongue and gave her a clitoral erection yet finished with a calm pinch on her lips and held her head in his palms meeting her ecstatic eyes with a smiling steady brightly shining gaze. Mou felt as if she was in love again. Then the rest of the night they walked along city streets speaking nothing, not even asking each other’s names, communicating only through playing fingers in each other’s palms. At dawn, the next morning, they yawned by the river and took their separate paths not knowing each other’s cast. creed, sexual orientations. It long seemed a dream to Mou. She labelled the phenomenon as one night’s love. The feeling was immortal unlike one night’s stand.

This year things turned weird. The organizers notified via social media that Bharat Raksak brethren would be present in the arena of the fest to prevent the participants from kissing. They also warned the participants of probable violence by BR. Strikingly, instead of criticizing BR’s parochial ways, the notification thread in the social media buzzed with how Rakshaks resembled the ferociousness of the wild mammal and how intoxicated they must be with the zeal of preserving Indian traditions.

However, the thread was nothing compared to cleansing endeavors at the festival grounds. COVID pandemic hit the fest enthusiasts hard. The size of the crowd was a hundredth of that of the previous years. Those who came were busy cleaning their mouths by gurgling five times with mouthwashes and abluting their palms five times with sanitizers.

However, the organizers were explaining, over the loudspeakers, India’s historical liberal culture of accepting Shak, Hun, Mughal, Pathan ways of lives. They added how aboriginal people relinquished their urban civilization embracing pastoral power structure of the Aryans. They warned, “If BR attacks you as you start kissing with the gong, give them your kiss, not your fists.”

With the gong of initiating kissing, BR brethren, in distinct yellow shirts, white dhoti and brown scarf around necks, jumped into the field to separate the kissing couples. It was the responsibility of singletons like Mou to thwart the advancing brethren and engage them in kissing so that the couples could carry on.

Before Mou could start, the woman next to her was pulled by her hair by a Rakshak. Instead of hurling that Rakshak with abuses or punches, the woman pulled the Rakshak’s neck and swallowed his lips inside her own mouth.

Inspired Mou pulled a BR by arm and attempted to kiss. The man screamed, “No.”

Surprised Mou asked, “Why?”

The BR replied, “Aren’t you egalitarian? Your ‘No’ means ‘No’, mine isn’t!.”

Probably to clear the air, BR declared, “I’m a Brahmachari. Hence, I must abstain from all amorous rendezvous my entire life and rate all men and women respectively as my brothers and sisters. Hence, I won’t kiss you or let you kiss me, my sister.”

The BR added, “Besides, I’ve sworn to prevent my brothers and sisters from conducting shameless show of lust like the westerners.”

Mou quipped, “Dude, westerners taunt to lustful couples on their street with, ‘Go, get a room.”

She continued, “Also, we’ve communities where marrying maternal uncle or paternal aunt’s son is perfectly alright. That’s incest for Westerners.”

The BR brought more references, “Sis, kissing is not Indian way to express love. You must know Kamasutra does not speak of kisses.”

Mou lashed her tongue, “Yay, neither it speaks of oral hygiene."

She was already mad. She had almost lost her only chance to have a ritualistic romantic night on Valentine's Day. She continued arguing with an attempt to pay the BR by his own coin, “Don’t you agree that Sam Veda teaches us Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam? Shouldn’t we embrace the occidental expression of love and harmony?”

The BR seemed lacking in logic. Mou opportunistically added, “Kissing’s an expression. None can violate another person’s freedom of expression. It's the constitutional right of each individual.”

Then she shrieked, “You and your brethren are thugs. See, how he’s pushing my friend’s ribs…”

The BR tried to reason, “He was attacked sexually and molested by your friend...”

Disheveled Mou argued back, “Why don’t you call the police then?”

The BR responded, “I have called. Leave the ground sister before you get tangled in this mess. Happy Valentines’ Day.”

Then he disappeared in the kissing crowd.

Mou rambled away from the fest arena, lamenting the kiss lost to lousy debates. 

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Word count : 946 (nine hundred forty six)

FCA : Full Critique Acceptable

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36 comments:

  1. I never knew a kiss could be turned into a political debate. How unusual.

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    Replies
    1. It can. Coz 'No' means 'No' and we look forward to be treated equally. ;)

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  2. I agree with Olga. Interesting take on the prompt!

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  3. Sometimes we take for granted what behaviors we find natural and what is acceptable within our own culture. This story speaks to that acceptance. Your main character is a smart woman!

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    1. Hi Stephanie. Time changes, so does social situations but social conditioning. Thus we've approval seekers and dissenters.
      Not only the main character, every woman is a smart person. So i can never depict a woman who is not smart.

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  4. What a unique ceremony. I hope she finds her true love and her kisses are returned with love!

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    1. It's a true ceremony. Two decades ago it was a banter that people used to get booked for public kissing but not for public pissing, though both are public nuisance and punishable offence under the law. To protest the discrimination there used to be kissing festival on V-Day.
      About Mou, she does not believe in truth of momentous love. Rather she celebrates momentary veracity of love.

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  5. Interesting to learn more of another culture, Sanhita. It is indeed a unique ceremony well suited to WEP's theme of THE KISS. I'm glad the main character was one smart woman!

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    1. Inspirations are real. There used to be such ceremony and wonen are always smart. Sometimes they act smart, sometimes they prefer not to (as inaction could be a smart move, too).

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  6. Great use of the prompt to highlight how a pandemic of narrowmindedness is throttling an ancient liberal culture, human rights and democracy. Sobering.

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    1. 'pandemic of narrowmindedness' is eternal. Yet nambudiri brahmins kept their vows and were converted to Jacobite Christians when they lost debate on religion to the Jacobite preachers. Only human rights are inventions of politicos of twentieth century. Culture and democracy, too, are ancient.

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  7. Hi Sanhita - what an interesting take on a ceremony waiting to occur now - and the way it is threatened by the pandemic and ways of life, that are not acceptable to many, yet adhered to by others. I'm glad she was a loner ... all the best - Hilary

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    1. I am glad that you noticed her being loner. All the best to you, too.

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  8. Had to laugh at, "Get a Room." Never knew there was such a night. As I was terribly shy in my youth, I never would have gone to such a thing. Interesting how you interrupted the wonder with prejudice. Isn't that how many things come to an end. Good for your character who was able to throw it all back in the other person's face.
    Nancy

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    1. Hi Nancy. The character is extrovert and adventurous. She is a sigleton, one of a kind. She does not look for commitments but acknowledges the deep biological being. Otherwise, who does notice that Vatsayan never mentioned oral hygiene in Kamasutra?

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  9. That was a fascinating glimpse into both a unique festival and a unique character. Nicely done.

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    1. Thank you, Rebecca. Both the event and the character are real and obviously, inspiring.

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  10. Hi,
    I am learning a lot about your culture through the stories you write. I didn't know that kissing was seen differently. Now I do. Thank you for sharing.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Pat. I missed your story in current challenge. Your stories are always positive and your characters are full of love and compassion. So i expected a very romantic story this time.
      From comment threads at WEP post I have learned about your publication. Wish you all the bests regarding the publication.
      Thank you very much for all encouraging words.

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  11. I really enjoy coming to your blog each time we have a WEP - I don't know why I don't come here more often! This was fascinating and brilliantly written. Well done :)

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    1. Thank you Jemima. Just follow the blog. You'll receive all updates.

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  12. An interesting ceremony and an intriguing take on the prompt! It's interesting how different cultures view kissing. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hi Laura, your comment made me realize that culture xan adopt to new customs. Isn't it?

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  13. Sanhita, I found this deeply interesting. I wasn't aware of this festival and the reactions to it, so reading this was an education. I'm fascinated by the customs of other cultures. How quick the Western world is to label things we don't understand as "indecent" or "immoral" while turning a blind eye to the prejudices and injustices embedded in our own society. Attending this festival sounds like a liberating experience.

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    1. Hello Anstice. I never attended the festival myself. Because of my ocd. Lol. But i read about in the news paper and saw photos of the fest arena. Bedides, i think public kissing is not much objectionable like other forms of PDA but public pissing is unhygienic. So, my supporr was leaning towards the fest. And i do agree that societies like its constituent humans are illogically and unnecessarily judgemental.

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  14. This is an eye-opener. It's amazing how different cultures are and yet, still alike in some ways. Westerners don't mind kissing but we do have other customs that are considered taboos. Still, this seems more political than taboo, but I guess that's where it often starts. Great piece. So much to think about.

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    1. Every difference turns political whenever necessary. Thanks Toi for stopping by.

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  15. Clever use of the prompt Sanhita. I enjoyed how you have interwoven certain lamentable political proclivities with this small-minded take on kissing. The Kiss Festival is an invention of your imagination - right?

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    1. Nope. The festival was real. In Kolkata, on each Valentine's Day in between 2000 and 2010 there used to be a festival of kissing to protest over enthusiasm of public administration to punish public kissing while keeping a shut eye over all public pissing, while both used to be public nuisance by law.
      Events at the festival were off course my imagination based on hooliganism at Bengaluru bars on the Valentine's Day 2009 or 2011 which triggered "pink chuddy" campaign.
      There are other conflicts that intrigued me writing this flash. Kissing seems transcendental in personal sphere sometimes. On the contrary, public display of affection through kissing used to be considered offence. Besides, conflicts of culture, too , was in my mind. Like, western world banters on custom of arranged marriage. Yet, many western youth take amorous plunge by asking their friends to find someone single while s/he her/himself is single. In other words, s/he gets dates for her/him arranged through friends.

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  16. The festival was fun to read about, but a little too wild for my tastes. In spite of the fact that I write erotica, I'm quite a reserved soul in real life.
    I find people kissing in public less bothersome than people urinating in public!
    Apologies for my late comment.

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  17. The festival was wild, indeed. Erotica was not my goal. Instead, the goal was to depict a conflict and chaos around an expression, viz., kissing.
    Thanks for stopping by. Your presence is welcome and is never too late.

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  18. Being an Indian I cam completely relate with this blog. I am not really shocked about the twist and the intervention thing. We are so bound to follow the culture here that sometimes we actually forget the individuality. It happens each year on Valentine's Day!! Btw Beautifully described here

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    1. Thanks again for visiting.
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