Does romance really need defacement of public property?

Pathikrit Sanyal
Pathikrit SanyalAug 20, 2018 | 21:18

Does romance really need defacement of public property?

Romance in India can be a tricky predicament. Between being raised in weirdly sanskari conditions and taking Bollywood as a template for what love can look like, Indians can have a hard time processing their emotions and executing them appropriately. In that vein, the hero of this tale, Nilesh Khedekar, a man from Pimpri Chinchwad in Maharashtra, went ahead with his larger-than-life declaration of apology, spiked with a dash of love (or at least, a heart emoji).


25-year-old Khedekar put up over 300 banners around Pimpri Chinchwad, especially in prominent traffic intersections, with the message, “[name of the girl], I am sorry,” making sure everyone, and hopefully, the woman in question saw his naked emotions and purpose, to win over a miffed partner.

Photo: Twitter

What sentiment could have, of course, been expressed in a smooth, John-Cusack-from-Say Anything… fashion — with a Peter Gabriel song (or maybe an Arijit Singh one in the Indian context) — found itself boil down to a trait most deeply rooted in the Indian gene: destruction (or maybe just disrespect of public property).

Like Brooks did in The Shawshank Redemption, though definitely in a less morbid manner, the Rahuls and Pinkys and Sanjus and Manjus jump in with the idea that they have to leave their mark on the world. And where else would this mark be grander than in the great outdoors. Sometimes on walls, sometimes on heritage sites and like Khedekar of Pimpri Chinchwad, sometimes all over the place, a “heart pierced by an arrow”, a random apology or simply an “I love you” is how so many Indians declare their feelings, to the world, yet under the anonymity afforded by the mere mention of first names alone.


Khedekar, of course, had no such luck with the latter.

His romantic gesture has not been taken too kindly by the Wakad police, who approached the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation to initiate action as per rules dealing with illegal hoardings and defacement of public property, the Times of India reported.

A Wakad police official, who spoke to the press, said that an investigation is already underway and that they have “managed to zero in on his friend Vilas Shinde who had helped Khedekar get the flex hoardings printed. Through him, we traced Khedekar who is the brain behind this act.”

Photo: preventmonumentaldestruction.blogspot.com

“The girl was coming on Friday to the area from Mumbai. Under the cover of darkness in the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, over 300 hoardings were put up on the route which the girl was likely to take,” the official added.

Whether in trouble or not, Khedekar’s “sublime” gesture, like all attempts at immortality scratched onto walls and pillars, makes one ask the question: Does romance really need that X-factor in the form of defacing public property? Is it just the modern form of what hunter-gatherer troglodytes achieved by killing game — a trophy of sorts that would prove beyond doubt who the alpha is? Or is it just one tiny (often inconspicuous, though certainly not in this case) attempt at immortalising one’s love in a world that is getting smaller by the minute and growing distant by the second?


Shah Jahan made the Taj Mahal to declare his love. Khedekar printed out a bunch of apologies on banners and plastered them all over the city to make his mark, certainly a more potent than typing “sorry baby” on WhatsApp.

Legalities apart, who is to judge such a gesture?

Last updated: August 20, 2018 | 21:20
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