Imaginary lovers

He might smirk at me and spit out that I am a romantic capitalist. Torun Honda is the guru of the 2-D love movement, and according to him if you shun 3-D relationships your cup will runneth over.

We are given the example of Nisan who shares his home, his parents, his innermost secrets with Nemutan. He rubs her leg in public and says, “Of course she’s my girlfriend. I have real feelings for her.”

Nemutan is not a woman. She is a stuffed pillowcase. And this isn’t a fetish like inflatable dolls. This is the desperation of some Japanese who are using characters from interactive games as lovers. We are told that they have a problem finding partners and 50 per cent do not even have friends of the opposite sex.

Is this only a Japanese phenomenon? Conservative societies have always faced this problem. If a quarter of the Japanese in their early 30s are virgins, then can it not be attributed to other factors too – the work culture, being too picky, career aspirations of women, perhaps not too evident earlier?

What about people like Honda who come forth to save these people with self-help books and end up with large publishing contracts? It is easy for a society that is obsessed with gizmos to play along. Relationships all over the world are suffering due to the addictiveness of the internet or time spent away from families. You can get your news, your friends, your menus, your virtual car racing, horse riding, gun-toting thrills just sitting in one place and moving your fingers a bit.

The iPhone apps and Blackberry crap are the new downloads that allow you to do what you need to and yet stay tuned in to the world. This is the irony. Isolation connects you to people you wouldn’t care to connect with.

Had Nisan gone to a bar, he might have hooked up with a woman looking for love or just friendship. He chose, due to the nouveau fad, to walk along with a pillow, stuffed with foam and painted with a willowy woman. Nemutan has light brown hair and blue eyes. Not only has he given up on real love but also his cultural choice.

Isn’t this romantic capitalism where you have to buy a toy and get colonised by the western version of it? “Pure love has completely vanished from the real world,” Honda wrote in a book. “As long as you train your imagination, a 2-D relationship is much more passionate than a 3-D one.”

Assuming by pure love he means unconditional, then it is likely that he will not be expected to deal with emotions. Is this unconditional or merely non-existent? And pillows too have a shelf life, to a large extent depending on how its partner indulges in passion.

Aren’t fantasies potent enough in real relationships? Humans have often used objects but they are to add to the pleasure not to replace a person.

The times I have used pillows is to muffle cries of despair and sometimes loneliness. Therefore, I find it distressing that we are willing to imbue objects with our imagination while we take people in our lives for granted.

- - -

taaseer to taaseer tasavvur hai gurezaan
raaton ko zaraa maangiye uth uth ke dua aur

(Shakeel Badayuni)


  1. It is only a man thing it seems. But very sad and what you write about relationships so right. A sensitive piece on a fad.

    Best wishes,

  2. FV
    Could you please provide an english ranslation of Shakeel Badayuni's couplet?

  3. Akanksha:

    I am sure women too have some such indulgences, except that male loneliness appears to have greater tragic dimensions in terms of media and cinematic appeal!


    Rough translation:

    The effect of the imagination is fleeting
    Awaken in the night to pray for more

  4. Creation of Imaginary Lovers is an absolute universal phenomenon. Every has diff magnitude but body pillows is an extremity...First source of inspiration is of course Movies, why do the "so called beautiful" women feature in movies always ...have u seen a average woman feature ...no....Seema Biswas didnt make it big despite being an outstanding actress...most of the "beloved" inspiration came from Yash Chopra's sketch of fair woman with compulsive eyes in white suits with long hair.....it happens ...
    That being said ...this also leads to a mental diecast creation ....so a lil plump woman or not so fair complexioned ...gets left out as Sub optimal ...Sad...Imaginations should be used a sketch and not a trace ....
    On second issue relevant issue you raised, instead of writing health warnings on ciggrates , govt should suggets people have a healthy love life and a healthy sex life ....ciggarates dont kill....state of mind does...
    If u wanna feel healthy ...fall in love :)
    Btw ..I have quit for good ....just the soota..

  5. Manish:

    The creation of fantasies and even fetishes is quite common and in many ways healthy. The imagination naturally conjures up all kinds of things. In this particular case it is sad because the 'lover' is a standard format.

    And you are right about the health aspect. Most illnesses are anyway psychosomatic.

    Good to know you've quit the ciggie. I see you are staying safer with soota and the satta of life!