The Daily Shouts segment on The New Yorker recently did a cute little comic called ‘What happens to all the Un-Hugged Hugs’ and it got me thinking about ‘Hugs’
I have had a weird history with hugs. My family is not very keen on showing affection, be it verbally or physically. For the longest time in my life, I was uncomfortable with hugging people no matter how close I was to them.
I once watched this Japanese movie called ‘Ohayo’ which revolved around the nicety of saying ‘Good Morning’ and how not saying it could lead to a myriad of misunderstandings. I was amazed after watching it. I didn’t really realize that such a small thing could make such a big difference to our social lives. Long ago, I had a flatmate who used to say Good Morning to all of us everyday. I found it really weird and used to be super awkward when I said Good Morning back to him. It was never something that we did in my parents’ house so I wasn’t used to it. After watching the movie, the realization finally sort of dawned on me and I gradually made a conscious effort to say Good Morning to all my flatmates everyday. The day started off on a better note automatically. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it brought about a drastic change in my social life. 🙂
Coming back to hugs, this whole story was to stress on the fact that hugs remove the awkwardness between people. You can say so many unsaid things through a hug. You could tell someone who you met after a long time that you really missed them. You could tell someone you will not see in a long time that you will really miss them. You could tell people you love them without even saying anything. The intensity of the hugs can differ depending on the person – if its an aquaintance it might be a light half hug and if its your best friend its a bone crushing squeeze.
I am happy to say that now I am super comfortable with hugs. My mother is still apprehensive of it. I remember the first time I hugged her was when I was leaving home to start my first job. I cannot believe it took so long but that’s just how things were. Now, of course, I hug her every time I leave my hometown after meeting her. I hug all my friends when I meet them after a long time and my favourite hugs are the ones right before leaving people, not knowing when we will meet next.
With Covid, I don’t really know what the future of hugs will be. The NewYorker cartoon talked about how these hugs are lingering around the city in despair and waiting to be rejoined with our bodies again, literally and figuratively. A friend recently texted me that she coudln’t wait to hug me when she meets me. This is the longest we have gone without meeting each other, because of the lockdown. I suddenly remembered Shilpa Gupta’s installation ‘For, in your tongue I cannot fit’ that I had seen at the Kochi Biennale. As a small part of the installation she had whispered the poetry of several jailed poets from across the world and then she seals and closes the jar. Only if my friend could also seal these hugs in a jar until I met her and I could feel all the warmth and love pouring forth when I opened it. Or even better, if she could just somehow wrap it up and send it to me. And that’s where all the un-hugged hugs could go. 🙂