‘Reproduction need not be the foundation of a family all the time’

Chitkala Mulye's book 'Beyond a Love Story' not only redefines the family system but also challenges typical notions of conventional relationships. She explores multiple possibilities of the family system.

Life coach Chitkala Mulye touches some very unorthodox areas in her book Beyond a Love Story. In the recently published novel, Mulye tries to redefine relationships, love and companionship through the eyes of her protagonists. She spoke to The Indian Express about her book and the inspirations behind it. Excerpts from an interview.

What made you write this book? Other than dealing with gay love, this also tries to redefine what we mean by family…

I got the germ for this novel when I became friends with Sagar Barwe, a gay. I was initially planning to write an article on the gay community. But, when I took a deep dive into the mind and life of this gay friend of mine, I decided to include Beyond a Love Story in my book which I had decided would be a short-story book. I always wanted to write a book that brings out emotional and social aspects of human life. I wanted to portray the grey areas of human emotions.

With this in mind, I started working on a short story book. I had thought of stories that talked about sexless marriages, how true love meant sacrifice, some stories of LGBTQ community and those which talked about love as companionship. But when I started writing, I realised that Beyond a Love Story encompassed all these aspects which I was trying to bring out from short stories and had a great potential to take the shape of a novel.

Once I decided to make it a novel, I explored Sagar’s emotional canvas as well as that of his gay friends. When he shared with me, that once a straight female friend of his had told him that she would love to have him as a companion for life despite knowing he is a gay. This pushed me to build the story for this fiction.

The novel not only redefines the family system but also challenges typical notions of conventional relationships. It subtly suggests that any two lovers can be a family and reproduction need not be the foundation of a family all the time. With changing emotional needs and practical situations there can be multiple possibilities of the family system that need to be explored.

The story not only shows how true love goes beyond sexuality, gender and age but also reveals that it is companionship, sacrifice and deep emotional understanding. Moreover, it focuses that for any relationship or love to flourish what is needed is complete freedoms which at times, the conventional marriage system does not give.

From being a mechanical engineer to a life coach, your profile is as varied and colourful as one can imagine. How did this whole spectrum of experience help you in writing this book?

My college life as a mechanical engineer enriched me with love and friendships. That was also the time I chose my life partner. So today, a decade with my life partner has greatly enhanced my understanding of love and companionship which reflects in my book. As an MBA in HR, I got a good exposure to subjects related to psychology, helping me understand different personalities and their behaviours and in character building.

During my days as a market research analyst, I met people of diverse backgrounds which introduced me to grey areas of the human mind and dynamics in different relationships. When I quit my job to be a mother and a relationship coach, I saw more of life, read minds, peeped into the heads of my clients and many got a new perspective towards relationships and life.

Being a sexual wellness coach helped me bring out the sexual aspects with an edge of expertise. Can’t miss the LGBTQ clients whose stories put in a lot of empathy in me and helped me get in the skin of a gay. So all in all the experiences in my life and people around me see their reflections in my book. Most importantly being a poet gave my bold topic a metaphorical touch making it more subtle for readers of all generations.

How biographical is this book? You talk about seduction, heartbreak and solace in companionship. Most fiction, it is said, has a skeleton of truth behind it. How far is that for you?

Though this book is fiction, it has reflections of many lives, could be some of LGBTQ clients or many other straight people I have closely observed. Sagar Barwe whose life inspired me to write this book helped me make it more realistic after deeply understanding some incidents from his life. Also, his self-acceptance and decision of coming out of the closet made it easier for him to share and allowed me to share the nuances of gay’s emotions with my readers.

As a life coach what has been your observation about LGBTQ people who come to you for coaching? In a city like Pune, how easy or how difficult is it for them to accept themselves and then grow in relationships?

The LGBTQ community faces immense emotional challenges. Apart from social non-acceptance, they have serious relationship issues. It is difficult to find partners for serious long term relationships and many go astray. I try my level best to help them explore their emotions, find practical solutions to complex situations in their lives and give them strength to help them find happiness in their lives going beyond imperfections in life and relationships.

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