Joan Didion in The White Album wrote “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

So was that it? Was the answer to my obsession so simple and straight forward?

The stupidity of my obsession had kept me wondering for some time now. I just couldn’t make sense of it. A while back I got hooked on to the teleserial Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahani and then moved on to Iss Pyar Ko Kya Naam Doon and now its Bojhena Se Bojhena!!!

You might ask, so what’s so strange about it? Serials are made to be watched and if they’re popular then that is the perfect win-win situation for everyone involved including the audience! But actually for me it’s different. I’m not hooked on to the teleserial as such – firstly I only watch them online. Then, I don’t watch every episode or entire episodes or even the serial from the beginning to the end. Nor am I interested in every character and their everyday lives.

Only the main protagonists interest me – again I don’t care about who they are, what they do or how their lives pan out in the serial. I simply like to watch how they behave toward each other till such time that they’ve finally confessed their love for one another. After that I invariably loose interest!

In most instances the leading lady is lively, self-dependent and strong willed, traditionally rooted but progressive in her thinking. Her belief in the institution of marriage and relationships ensures that she is always willing to go the extra mile for those who are important to her and she loves dearly. The man of course is a puzzle!  He is confident and smart, dependable, outwardly dispassionate and cold-hearted, hard-as-nails person, cleverly concealing his vulnerability. The only one who can unravel this puzzle and make the emotionally withdrawn man want to express his innermost fears and hopes is the lady. They complement each other, complete each other – they’re the ideal better halves with the perfect chemistry!

Their romance is centred on confrontation. They’re attracted to one another but can only express animosity. The magnetism of their love-hate relationship leads to interesting scenarios. The unsaid emotion of love, longing, desperate need for acceptance or fear of rejection is what binds them to each other. The outward expression of hate and anger is their basic inability to express themselves openly – in fact, they want each other desperately but fearing that it exposes their vulnerability, they push each other away! And amidst all this is the underlying sexual attraction. A look, a brief touch, brushing of the arms, the occasional peck on the cheek or at the nape of the neck holds much promise.

It’s this behaviour that I find most gripping.

I’ve grown up reading about such characters – in massive doses from Mills & Boons, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel, Barbara Cartland – even the odd Hardy Boys were guys with the perfect sense of humour. When I was young it made sense to believe in the existence of such characters – but why now?

What is it about their relationship, the chemistry that keeps me rooted? They’re mostly fairy tale romances – therefore ideally unbelievable! But is it precisely that, which attracts me? That such incidences don’t happen in reality? Does this inspire my notions of ‘ideal’ love and the ‘ideal’ couple?  If so, then why do I lose interest after they’ve expressed their love for each other? Is it because then they become like any other normal everyday couple with everyday problems? And their life strays too close to reality holding no avenue for me to escape into.

Delving deeper, does this also mean that this attraction has somehow stunted my emotional development and made me a ‘romantic illusionary’? Or else, in real life, why do I place so much emphasis on innuendoes and the subtleties of emotions? Why do I get most excited about foreplay (read the infinite possibilities that unexpressed sexual energy offers) rather than the actual act of love making?

Equally rattling is the question – why am I watching Bojhena se Bojhena? It’s the Bengali remake of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon. I know that love story, then why do I still feel compelled to watch it?  Definitely not only for the cultural nuances portrayed but perhaps because I’m simply reliving moments.

Reading Joan Didion’s statement, I felt relief. I’d finally found the explanation for my obsession, that I had been telling myself stories to live happily within my reality. But the feeling didn’t last long. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure as the explanation was too harsh. Relief was clouded by a sense of loss, as if I’ve lost my anchor and had nothing to hold on to. Now what? What would I do? How would I survive without this ideal make belief world to escape into?

Too scary, I better go watch another episode of Bojhena se Bojhena!