If I’m honest, I’d have to admit that I’ve made out with various partners in just about every public part of Mumbai. From the rocks by the seashore to children’s public parks to the staircases in random buildings (I’ve always found the space between floors four and five to be best) to vacant parking lots to graveyards, and once even the backyard of an orphanage during school hours. When I was in my early 20s, my raging hormones and inability to afford a hotel room meant that Mumbai’s sparse public spaces were the unfortunate recipients of my public displays of lust (PDL).
While I would call this mere nostalgia of my publicly horny past, it turns out that many would actually label this as law breaking. Unfortunately we live in a country where public kissing can mean jail time and death threats, and our respected Prime Minister Modi has said (through an affiliate) that our “Indian culture does not permit us displaying such kinds of affection in public spaces.” In that sense, I was also aware that my PDL was subliminally meant to say a big fuck you to the society at large and that one Tom Uncle in particular who had spotted my then boyfriend and me, and dutifully ratted me out to my parents.
Because, seriously, it’s a fucked-up world we live in in which a lot of wrong things are happening in broad daylight but two consenting people snogging in public are pulled up. As I’ve grown up, I’ve also realised that people making out in public is often not just the display of spontaneous affection but the result of having no other place where they can actually spend some time with their lover. This, unfortunately, is the most amount of privacy they can get for themselves, battling not just the lack of space and privacy but also the police and the PDA police amongst us.
Which is why, my heart goes out to the couple in Delhi who the day before yesterday, through an undated video, have suddenly found themselves go viral. The couple in question were filmed making out on the Delhi metro, supposedly by a co-commuter who thought the act of kissing was wrong but not that of filming someone without their consent. Self-appointed moral police have responded to the video en masse, with comments ranging from requesting separate compartments for such passengers because they travel with their families to how such a “show of crude love” encourages crimes against women to how this equals to forcing kids to watch porn.
This is not the first time that shadily filmed clips of those making out on the Delhi metro have gone viral. A similar incident took place in November last year when CCTV footage of a couple making out on the same metro actually landed on a porn site. Secretly filmed videos of couples in other spaces have often gone viral as well. In 2010, a schoolgirl died by suicide after a video of her kissing a classmate got circulated via MMS.
This is a country in which public pissing is okay but kissing is not, and the perpetrators of passion are often threatened with jail time. In the name of nationalism and religion then, what thrives is the bogeyman that is 'love jihad' and preventing people from celebrating Valentine’s Day. You can declare your love for actors, sportsmen, politicians and even the country—even if that includes heinous crimes in the name of love for your motherland—but we draw the line on PDA, often with a little help of Section 294 that penalises whoever, to the annoyance of others, does any obscene act in any public place. What that obscene act is is open to interpretation and our moral standards.
Look, I understand that we need an obscenity law. The first time I saw a penis I was 10 years old, standing at a bus stop when a man behind me casually lifted his shoulders which in turn lifted his shirt which in turn displayed his cock hanging over an untied pair of trousers. That guy needed to be thrown in prison under the obscenity law.
But let’s not punish consenting teenagers and adults for kissing. Please, let them swap their saliva.
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