Have you heard about the story of Augusto Lakandula? His real name was Reginald Chua and he gained media attention when he hijacked a Philippine Airlines plane years ago. His community, a village outside Manila, was hit by financial hardships and he figured he would hijack a plane, threaten passengers to blow it up, get all their valuables and jump off the plane using a homemade parachute. He did it.
Few years ago, I conversed with a stranger at Bangalore airport. She was traveling to India to meet the love of her life. She was worried his parents might force him to marry an Indian girl (she was not Indian) and was going to try and win her man, or rather her man’s parents. She had two children from a previous relationship. Knowing the Indian mindset, I warned her it was an uphill task. She did it.
A senior of mine—a rape victim—thought, like everyone else, that her then boyfriend would give up on their relationship. Her trauma threw her at the centre of a lot of negative attention, gossip and social stigma. He knew it was almost impossible to get his parents to accept her as his life partner, but he went on to find a job, succeed at it and one fine day, marry her.
What is the connection between these three stories? Sacrifice for love.
Augusto’s homemade parachute failed and he lost his life, but he managed to give his community a much needed respite. He was found dead, half buried in a swamp just outside his village, with a big loot in his bag.
The stranger in the airport sacrificed time with her kids, pay at work and a major part of her savings to make sure she had a fair chance at living with the love of her life.
My senior and her boyfriend chose to sacrifice an easy life by fighting the stigma associated with rape. They remain happily married to each other.
The protagonists of these stories wanted to make sacrifices, but is this similar to the sacrifices made in relationships? We tend to generalize love and sacrifice as being two ends of the marital spectrum. Some of the most popular clichés on marriage:
A series of adjustments and sacrifices you make to make it work.
A progressive art of learning to stay together, or drifting apart (while being together).
A marriage doesn’t work. You need to make it work.
What if we consider someone who, after fifteen years of marriage, meets “The One”. Does she just walk away? On one side, she has over five thousand days of living and sharing with the one she is married to. On the other, she has the one, her soul mate, the one made for her by the gods. Does she sacrifice him on the altar of marriage or does she sacrifice her marriage on the altar of love? That is probably a really big question, a life-changing one.
Now let’s take it a notch down. What if your spouse wants to go to a beach for vacation and you want to go to the mountains? What if she wants to change a television channel you are watching or change the type of pizza you want to order? In the end, one must compromise clothes, movies, restaurants, hours at work, a career to raise a child—the list is unending. And many a times, the sacrificial aspects of a relationship lean so much towards one spouse that it may not seem worthy anymore.
The simple fact is—when sacrifice is seen as sacrifice, it loses its worth.
For instance, if Augusto saw his act as a sacrifice he was going to make for his community, I don’t think he would have been brave enough to jump. If the stranger at the airport saw what she did as sacrifice, I don’t think she would have ventured into a land where she did not know the language and didn’t have an address to go to. If my senior and her boyfriend saw what they did as sacrifice, I don’t believe they would have been strong enough to move past that incident and live together for what is almost twenty years now.
What makes you act in a certain way is not your need to sacrifice but your need to bring a smile upon your partner’s face. The joy she reflects is worth all the stuff you forgo. Love and sacrifice go hand in hand. To love is to sacrifice and you can sacrifice only if there is love.
Sketch: Vishnu Nair