On Thursday, love was all around. People were feeling it in their fingers and their old bones. Two images bombarded us. Of two separate men who had found love, and were making it official. One was Stephen Fry, the other was Imran Khan.
Both images – of two aging men with much younger partners — were disconcerting. Not because I disapprove of age-gap relationships, but because in the two images, both the older men looked like they were out with their young care givers. Age-gap relationships are hardly novel. But some visuals can be very jarring. Like that of Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng, or Ben Kingsley and his wife. Love is in the eyes of the beholder and the happy couple must have looked into each other’s hearts. Good for them. But those photographs only serve to remind us sometimes that time which can heal can also not be kind.
On Thursday, Imran Khan married Reham Khan. He’s a former cricketer-turned-politician-turned-Taliban apologist. She’s a former BBC journalist who interviewed him last year in the converted shipping container which acted as Imran Khan’s base while he carried out his anti-government protests in Islamabad. It’s almost reminiscent of when Imran Khan married Jemima Goldsmith.
The difference is in how the dynamics have changed today.
At the time Jemima Goldsmith married Imran Khan, he was the catch. She was 19, no one in the subcontinent knew of her, and had dropped out of college to marry Imran Khan who was in his early forties. She pretty much had no identity other than that of his wife. Imran was dapper, 42 years old, and had got himself a young bride who in the eyes of the media was portrayed as a “socialite” and a “trophy wife”. That today she is a journalist of repute and a strong and fearless proponent of freedom of speech is a separate matter. She is currently associate editor of New Statesman and European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair and had posted bail for Edward Snowden. Her age difference with him is the same as Reham Khan’s and his.
At that point though, he was the cynosure of all eyes. At the prime of his life – his cricketing glory behind him, new political horizons in front of him. Their wedding pictures showed a handsome crinkly-eyed man with a beautiful woman. He was the politician of the day, breaking with norm to marry a foreigner, trying to herald change in his country. He started his new party six months later. If anyone was a trophy, it was him.
Today though, Imran looks as craggy as the Karakoram. He’s lost his sheen. His older man charm has been replaced by an elderly crankiness. His intellect and political prowess is under constant criticism. At least earlier he was simply referred to as Im The Dim. Now he’s called Taliban Khan. His posturing and friendly overtures to extremist elements have only won him disfavour. This is not a trophy many would want to win.
The pictures of Imran and Reham Khan’s wedding are more heartbreaking than anything else. Imran looks almost stupefied and immobile, standing beside the stunning and very youthful looking Reham – who could well pass off as his daughter. Age has dealt Imran a cruel blow. Not that it justifies Geo TV showing clips of Imran’s marriage with the song playing "Main kya karoo Ram, mujhe budhha mil gaya."
For someone who used to find Imran very dishy in his heyday, the wedding pics drove home the visual deterioration bluntly. But beauty aside, to portray him as the catch and Reham Khan as some twinkie is not only doing her a disservice, but is also a sign of blindness. Just as Jemima was repeatedly referred to as a socialite, media keeps referring to Reham Khan as a "former weathergirl". The Telegraph reported that "One of Imran’s friends sent his wedding photographs to The Telegraph with the note, ‘He has done ittttttttttt’, and attached icons of clapping hands".
This is a woman who is in the prime of her life, a successful journalist with her own news show, mother of three and gorgeous to boot. Imran’s family disapproves of the association, but they should realise that if anyone has hit the jackpot - it is Imran Khan. Much like with George Clooney and Amal Amaluddin. Although to give Clooney credit, he’s still extremely easy on the eye. But Alamuddin is no unknown who found fame thanks her marriage. She’s an independent woman who is well-known for her legal career. If anyone’s hit a home run, it’s Clooney.
Then there is Stephen Fry, who I think is by far one of the most intelligent and talented men in comedy, films and television and has done pathbreaking work in helping people understand and accept psychological disorders. If you read newspapers, you would have seen pictures of the 57-year-old Stephen Fry with his fiancé, the 27-year-old comedian Elliot Spencer. Though poor Fry looks rather dog-eared and baggy next to his young fiance at least he’s still such a beloved public figure in Britain. One could say many in Britain might be a little envious of young Spencer.
Alas that’s hardly true of Imran. It’s time the media stopped portraying his marriage to Reham Khan as a sixer for her. If anyone should thank their lucky stars for scoring anything at all, it’s Imran.
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Updated Date: Jan 09, 2015 22:55:22 IST