Love and Honour? A Marriage for Peace
by David D E Evans
Balboa Press

"So, why did they fail to understand this simple stuff?... the reason could be the fear of losing one’s culture or the fear of acculturation…"

The bedrock of legendary love stories, regrettably, is bloodshed and tragedy. In this text, Evans sifts through numerous cultures, countries, and classes to uncover a series of tales featuring forbidden love and its mostly heartbreaking aftermath. Digging deeper, he probes into the debate of honor, duty versus love, and the glorification of each on either side of the spectrum.

In the twenty-first century, one might be hard-pressed to find cases where two individuals in love could not be wed in holy matrimony. Nevertheless, Evans highlights couple after couple who preferred (or were subjected to) death rather than living apart. Referencing four tragic, iconic love stories of Punjab, ranging from Heer Ranjha to Mirza Sahiban, Evans denotes how, to date, their sad demise is overlooked even as generation after generation view them as legends, their actions heroic to their core. Unpacking each story, Evans examines the societal pressures that inevitably play a pivotal role as well as the stepping stones to progress.

The warring families theme from Romeo and Juliet is mostly perpetuated by unions between Hindus and Muslims. Even when they are nonviolent, the level of distrust between the two is astronomical and ingrained, leading to stories like Amreen and Lokesh, a Hindu-Muslim couple who, despite being legally married, are ostracized and given the choice between separation or death. Interestingly, many of these cases are prominent in uneducated tribal and village territories. Progress, however, is not far behind with stories like Asad and Ujjala. Their story could have ended in the same violent manner, but a disapproving father who chose nonviolence made all the difference. As the tapestry of stories unravels, Evans' timely work begins to reveal a consistent trend: the secrecy of love—the gall to go against societal norms and fall in love—as the primary barrier to peace.

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