Written by Gautam Mehra, the Pursuit of Nothingness narrates the love story between two modern-day Indian men. The narrator of the story is unnamed and his beloved is named Vicky.
Vicky is a married man, who lives with his sister and his brother in law, while the narrator resides by himself. Vicky is adored and loved by the narrator to the extent that whenever Vicky leaves him after a meetup or date, his eyes would tear up with the thought of being departed from the person he loves. His love for Vicky is something mentioned vividly throughout the story at every possible instant. On Vicky’s end, it’s quite unclear about how sincere his love is towards the narrator. There are incidents where he mentions how his need for love is fulfilled by the presence of his lover and not his wife. The narrator, meanwhile, constantly mentions the distance he feels after every meeting with Vicky- that they have been able to only meet once in 6 months or less; which is justified by both of them under the “responsibilities” Vicky has. It can put any reader to doubt about the reciprocation of love in that relationship from Vicky’s end and make them realise the narrator being ignorant of the lack of reciprocation. The secrecy of their relationship is something that is honest and relatable for any Indian queer soul that has had to keep their love a secret from the world.
It is important to note how people like Vicky approach gay relationships despite being married. This is the way non-heteronormative sexualities try to cope with their needs; physical, romantic and mental-secret relationships. Having said that, after settling into such a residual and secret relationship, Vicky can be seen to be in total denial of his sexuality, as Vicky can be seen denying of being a homosexual or a bisexual and prefers to be the “straight “ label. Keeping the above in mind, if one looks at a perspective of love, it seems just fair; Vicky is a man who loves another man and no other man than him. This existence of love can be seen questioning and challenging the existence of a system of labels that this world tries to put on each and every relationship or being they come to witness.
The organisation of the chapters and the titling of the same is very much in sync along with the quotations used. The reader can see the present while having bits of a journey into their past and towards the end is a glance into their future and realisation of the actual involvement of the “two men” in this “one love story” as mentioned in the title. The past is, as usual, colourful and a rainbow-like phase as any relationship would have during its take off. It’s the present that gives the readers an idea of how much love is there from Vicky’s side and the future decision made by the narrator out realisation just confirms the signs of dissolution of this relationship. The narrator can be seen losing hope of finding a partner for himself to have all by himself. This strikes him when he comes face to face with the reality, that this relationship had no future in it for him. He also mentions how he felt that there is no one out there made for him, just for him; which is a universal fear for the queers. The idea of abandonment and ending up alone due to their rarity is something portrayed in this story in its most raw and honest state. Now, the “why” side of this statement is an open-end and is very much individualistic to the reader. The story as the title suggests, leaves the reader with a message of being in the pursuit for substantiality rather than shallowness, and realise to invest in a space that reciprocates the same if not more; since that’s how the story ends with the narrator realising that all this while he had been in “the pursuit of nothing”.
You can read The Pursuit of Nothingness here.