(This is an excerpt from a magazine article written by a famous female writer Tishani Doshi. I found the piece truly amazing and an echo of my own sentiment...gawsh, how I wish I had written it! Anyways, I share it here and hope it stirs you too...kudos to the thought!)
Male female relationships are circumscribed by expectations and slotted into categories- boyfriend, father, brother, friend. But some elude this classification and testify to the pleasure of the detour. These bonds flirt on the lines between formality and intimacy....And yet these are often men that we still want despite it all...
“In recent years I have come to realize that it’s impossible and a little unfair to expect one man to fulfil all your intellectual, emotional and sexual needs. Once you get your head around this idea and let go of the monochromatic, either-or vision of the world, you begin to see a whole grey spectrum out there. The relationships that are most important to me now are those that defy category or logic. I call them my what-if men. What if he weren’t married? What if he lived in the same city? What if he weren’t ultra religious or didn’t do drugs or loved dogs? The range of the what-if man is truly awesome.
A relationship with a what-if man is a nurturing one, it may be fleeting or permanent, but it is nothing like the cliché of an affair, which is hot and hurried and poof! Love and sexual tension may hover over the periphery, but for it to really work, certain boundaries have to be maintained- that’s right, no sex because physical intimacy puts a spin on things and slides it into murky territory.
You may hold hands with your what-if man or not. You may unburden your darkest secrets and fears or not. You may consider each other as your ‘back up’ or not. The joy is in recognizing something special in another human being, in making that connection regardless of timing and circumstances, and learning how to draw fire from it.
My favourite what-if man is 40 years older than me: a demigod in his own country, a poet and a political hero. We meet once in a year, if we are lucky; eat spaghetti alle vongale and drink copious amount of wine. We talk about ways of living and share histories. When people look at us, undoubtedly they’re thinking, what’s going on there? But it is nothing inappropriate or sleazy. It’s just what-if. What if he were younger or I older? We meet, we talk, we return to our lives, and we carry the other person with us.
The great beauty in what-if is that you never take anything for granted because there is no ownership or expectation. It enjoys a longevity that other relationships can’t sustain and it exists in continuity always shifting and moving to accommodate both your worlds. The what-if man represents possibility, yearning. His place is never fixed. If you know what you want and what you are willing to allow, it’s worth having a what-if man or two or three in your life; like manna straight from the skies.