My editor asked me to write a guide to love. I think it’s meant to be funny, because I’m 33, fatter than the three fattest people you know combined, and I live in my parents’ basement with a bunch of jerky cats. But in spite of that, I’ve touched almost two women in my life without them calling for help, and only one of them was my mother. (The other was my cousin.) So here’s what I know about love and relationships. Don’t take it too seriously though, because like I said, the only pair of lips I’ll be kissing on Valentine’s Day are drawn on my hand with lipstick, under a picture of Misha Showdagor’s character from Gunda Number One.
I’m writing from a male heterosexual point of view because in Bangladesh, the overwhelming number of relationships starts with the guy initiating. It shouldn’t be that way, of course, but it is. And we men tend to be dumb and inconsiderate. At least, I am. Misha Showdagor’s boyfriend probably isn’t.
Why should she care?
This is an old advertising question, ie the “Why should I give a **** factor?” Think about this before you do something dramatic. (In my time, standard practice was either writing a really long letter on some paper torn out of your notebook, or calling her house phone repeatedly until she picked up, saying “I love you” and then hanging up. It might be different now.) From a practical point of view, if you can define the ways in which being with you is good for her, you stand a better chance of getting the girl. From a human decency point of view, think about the fact that a girl is constantly having guys ask for her number, tell her they love her, making suggestive comments, trying to touch her, etc.
I mean, that’s not even the worst of it. If you get rejected, whatever, you smoke a John Player’s Gold Leaf, listen to Aurthohin’s Odbhut Cchele parts one through five, and play table tennis with local hero Hitlar Khondoker. Worst-case scenario, her father will shout at you. For her though, worst-case is too horrible to consider in a country where “spurned miscreants” (to use journalist language) show up with buckets of sulfuric acid. So this is one of the only times I will recommend *not* listening to the advice Tabij Faruk puts forth in “Bhalobashar Gushti Kilai.”
When you show her that you’ve put yourself in her shoes and have thought about how you can serve her, it starts things off right. It shows that you’re not just thinking of yourself or feeding your desires. Plus, if you put yourself in her shoes, that means you have a new pair of shoes! Probably red!
Love the person
If you want to be in a relationship with someone, it’s not going to be endless tickle fights and arguments of “No, *I* love you more!” You’re going to deal with tragedy, disappointment, boredom, ennui — and that’s kind of the magical thing. You can only have this if you love a person and not just an ideal of romance. And you must love that person, whoever she is, with all of her faults and adorable quirks and the way she laughs too loud and the way she’s hopelessly unpunctual. (Okay, I’m thinking of a specific person here, and god save you if you fall in love with her.)
Women from every continent, including Antarctica (it was online) have lined up to tell me that they are not interested in dating me. So many women turn me down that I feel like a superstar — how did they even hear of me? I get pre-emptive rejections before I’m even introduced to ladies. They will tell me they do not want to “get too serious” or “have dinner sometime” or “be in the same building as you, you gormless, bloviating jackanapes.” (That last girl had a PhD.)
But every time, they’re happy to be friends. Because that’s the Kazi secret. If I love you, and I mean YOU, dear beautiful reader — it means that I will love you regardless of whether you want to hold my hand and listen to Sting or Coldplay or whatever terrible music people in love listen to. I will love you at the Western Milon concert, where we’ll go because we’re pals, because — and this is my point — loving someone means appreciating who they are!
Learn to let go
Oh my Bassbaba, where to begin? I guess it’s pretty simple actually. If she says no, let it go. By all means make your case to her. Post the lyrics of that song where Sumon Bhai stops everything and says “Beach” before starting a really rocking bass solo. Eat up to five (but not more) boiled duck eggs late at night in the Maghbazar intersection. But then, when you wake up the next day, don’t start bothering her.
I say this mostly out of concern for the millions of girls who are at this very moment, so close to Valentine’s Day, being bombarded with Lalmatia lotharios drunk on visions of Intekhab Dinar saying “I just love you” to his mute cousin in Offbeat. But I think the true lesson of that natok was that Tahsan was the bigger man. By biking away, he showed that more than touching his forehead while Arnob sang “She Je Boshe Acche,” more than drinking Pepsi, more even than pairing white suits with a Rahul cut, he respected the fact that his lady love made her choice, and it wasn’t him.
Tahsan is many things — musician, actor, professor, relatively hairless in the chest area. But to me, his actions in Offbeat are a shining example of what a true gentleman does.