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How much space we need and how much space we allow to others – essentially, and eventually, this space is the major determinant of our mental state, and our happiness

Dr. Jernail S. Anand

How much space we need and how much space we allow to others – essentially, and eventually, this space is the major determinant of our mental state, and our happiness. All the issues that arise in human relations, in personal and social life, finally rest with the grammar of space. It all begins with the family. All the fights between the husband and the wife, between parents and their kids, and between kids and kids – are because one is overlaying on the space which belongs to the other. The major issue with human beings is that in most of the cases, they are quite unaware of what they are doing and how it is affecting the state of mind of the other person.

The space is a mental construct, apparently invisible, but felt very acutely and keenly, and nobody wants this ‘zone of special being’ to be invaded by any other person.

Just think when a dog barks? These living bodies have a specific space of their own. As soon as you enter that space, they can smell your presence, and if they dislike it, they start making their nose, and might bark, which will increase if you are intruding in that personal space. Birds, as soon as they find, you have stepped into their space, and it can be dangerous, take to the flight. Go near a buffalo. It will feel somebody is coming close to it. I have seen cows, with their wide eyes, keep looking at the passers-by for long intervals. They know, when you step into their space, at first they are alarmed, and then, it all depends on what you do. They can welcome you with a twist of their tail, or toss you up in the air, on their horns. If they allow you close to their muzzle, and you can feed them some bits of biscuits etc., they will not mind your presence in their sanctum sanctorum. But if you are unwelcome, they know it by the smell that is emanating from your body and your mind, which they catch, so blessed they are, they will get ready with their horns.


What is space? The idea of space does not denote simply the physical form that we carry. It can be true with inanimate things. A bed, say, is three feet in breadth and six feet in length. But, not so with a man, who apparently is five and a half feet in length, and one feet in breadth. How much space he can ask for? This space is a mental construct, apparently invisible, but felt very acutely and keenly, and nobody wants this ‘zone of special being’ to be invaded by any other person.

Tribune India
Image Courtesy: Tribune India

Let me talk of the space of a girl child. Where is it? In our family system, a girl has no space. According to our social law givers, she is not even considered ‘santaan’. [As an astrologer. He will tell you a girl is not considered ‘santaan’]. The home where she is born, does not belong to her. And after marriage, the home where she is forced into, also does not belong to her. She remains a complete alien, a stranger to this world. Compare it with her brother. It is a far happier situation in which he is placed. He has a fixed inviolable space in his own home. I am against this deprivation of a female child at her very home. No doubt, these days, girls are getting more sane treatment at the hands of their families. Yet, it is second rate. The first rate love and care goes to the boy. The patriarchal society does not welcome the birth of a girl child. It is another thing, these days they do not kill her outright.


This lack of space is not only physical, in which the girl is deprived of parental care, and paternal assets, which go in the name of the boy, but also, how she is treated and brought up. At every step, she is made to realize she is a girl, not meant for this house, one day to leave this place and go to her home. Her home… is a big ‘jumla’ [fraud].


Let us focus the lens on a girl child’s own home for a little while. Then, we shall shift to her ‘own home’. The more the parents love their daughter, the lesser is the space allowed to her. Now father, now mother and now brother. They are all there to dictate her how to live her life. The focus is never on what she can do. Rather, they tell her what she cannot do. She cannot choose her subjects. She cannot choose her school or college. She cannot choose her friends. She cannot choose the boy she likes. She has to depend on the wisdom of her brother, younger or elder, to go to a place outside her own city. Even today, in highly developed times, there are fathers of highly educated daughters, who drop them [in car, of course, because they are well to do socially, though highly deprived mentally] at their place of work, and then, come again in the afternoon to pick them up. So much protection, care should be a cause for a great sense of importance? It is the opposite of it. They have no space. They have no freedom. They have no voice. They have no choice. They suffer from TINA syndrome. There is no alternative.


Now, let us move to the ‘own home’ syndrome. The husband is a man who does not belong to her. Her mother is still far removed. His sisters are near rivals, if not altogether enemies. Even the ‘feras’ by fire’ [holy rounds] fail to melt the sense of strangeness. The husband owns the house, and the woman too. Where is the question of space? Where is the question of her choices? Her freedom?  Here, I feel an affidavit needs to be signed, that they will live together henceforth, but their wishes will be respected. And if this clause is violated, it should be automatic divorce. Just a report in the police station should free the woman or man from this holy bondage.

Now, women are educated and employed. And they understand that marriage is not a compulsion for them. They assert their power. And it gives hard times to the men folk. Patriarchy is under severe question in these times. What a woman wants: Space.


Detroit Free Press
Image Courtesy: Detroit Free Press

She wants space to dream, to earn, to decide what and when to conceive, to have her word in matters of dress and family matters. She wants to know the family assets, and run the business of the house. You can see it is all a matter of space. And when man does not yield her rightful space to her, there are contentions. If the things turn serious, there can be beating, and murders.

Live-in Relationships are a time off from regular marriages which scuttle a woman’s efforts at self-definition. Live-in gives her a power to live the life on her own terms. But the space that they get is not voluntary, it is grudged by the parents of both the partners. And such relationships do not have long shelf life. If not killed for honor, they end up in acrimony, and not recently, a lover cut his estranged beloved into many pieces and preserved her in the fridge. In search of a little more space, she ended up losing everything.

When brothers fight for crumbs, here too it is the matter of space. Both of them are not equally smart. The smarter tries to play foul with the gentler one. And, there is a permanent wedge between the two. In every relationship, when we try to trudge over the foot fingers of our partner, we are inviting trouble.

We need to re-think for a liberated family system how to take care of growing up kids, whom parents do not find time to attend

Now, let us think of human relationships in general. We can draw a conclusion that all estrangements, acrimony, fighting, killing and revenge that this society is made up of, have at its center, the loss of space for the aggrieved one. He who commits the crime, is always the aggrieved one. And he is trying to equalize the show. Suppose a man beats his wife, what will the wife do? She will connect with some other person. After all, she is in search of a space for herself. If you threaten your sister, she will elope. If the family keeps a child on its hate-list, he runs away, and sometimes, reaches dream cities too. All in search of his own space.


I am basically concerned with the space issues within the partners. The husband and the wife are in a most unlucky union, because they do not love each other. They have found each other from matrimonial.com. Now, there is no common ground. They came together with individual aspirations. They are together only to solve the problem of sex which results in some kids tumbling from the first floor [metaphorical use for the skies].  In such a situation where love is absent, and only business and commerce is ruling the proceedings, they have every reason to fight each other, beat the less brawny, and even kill. My ideas of space can help here far better than the police who helps the society after the crime has been committed. Learn to give space to your partner. Every woman needs space. Space means freedom. Space means her own time to think of herself. To act what she wants. After all, everybody has a right over his own joys, and happiness. It is not necessary that a husband is a guarantee of joy for a woman. Nor is it on the reverse side. A woman too can irritate a man, and he too may want some respite away from her.  In order to live together, it is better to give each other a wide berth.


I sometimes feel for a husband and a wife, rather than living together, and putting an end to the chances of united survival, it is better they stay at different places. A girl may carry on living with her parents, where she feels most at home. And the boy too can keep on with his family. And both of them can have a week or two together in one or two months. This distance will keep the interest alive, and the love intact, whether it is there or not.

The basic issue is of happiness. And happiness comes from the space. Space means an understanding that the other person is a human being. He needs to stand upright. He needs to think with his own mind. And feel with his own heart. He is important. She is dependable. They will be more at home with themselves if they are assured that they are being respected in the family. Their emotional needs are taken care of.

Image Courtesy: Pudhari


Grandparents, as they grow old, lose space physically, because they transfer their landed assets to their kids. Now, they are in search of emotional space only. How readily it is provided to them by our busy daughters-in-law? Even sons consider them a burden if they are not insured. An old man in India is scared of illness in his old age. Once he catches the bed, it stretches to the hospital, and then ends up only in the cremation ground

Girls are not considered ‘santaan’ by our Vedic systems. It is wrong. Couples should be free to have one child, or two children, or even no children if it pleases them. The issue is of bringing them up. With both the spouses in the office, the problem of raising up kids has grown. Ayas are no replacement for the ideal grandmother. We need to re-think for a liberated family system how to take care of growing up kids, whom parents do not find time to attend.

Read: Anthropological Study of Depression among Children


Jernail SinghDr. Jernail Singh Anand is President of the International Academy of Ethics. He is author of 161 books in English poetry, fiction, non-fiction, philosophy and spirituality. He was awarded Charter of Morava, the great Award by Serbian Writers Association, Belgrade and his name was engraved on the Poets’ Rock in Serbia. Recently, he was awarded Doctor of Philosophy [Honoris Causa] by the University of Engineering. And Management, Jaipur. His most phenomenal book is Lustus: The Prince of Darkness [first epic of the Mahkaal Trilogy]. [Email: anandjs55@yahoo.com Mobile: 919876652401[WhatsApp]
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