(c) Durba Gupta
I am a self-proclaimed, incorrigible, mushy kind of piscean love addict. I day dream profusely of my romantic endeavours and misadventures. Over the years, I have seen many of my close friends, relatives, acquaintances and myself go through this beautiful experience. When I was young, a friend once told me that love is like a cigarette. It burns out. And when it burns out, it leaves behind a heart burn ;) of a different kind. My skeptic friend is married with a kid now, after 5 years of whirlwind 'going out' with the girl of his dreams.
Being the non-conformist I had always been, I never quite paid any heed to my friend's observations. So when in schools I watched girls and guys exchanging notes, and eating their tiffin together (yes, that was romance in our days), I was pretty sure that love will come and sweep me off my feet soon. There were quite a few of us who subscribed to that 'vision'. Strangely though, none of use quite 'actioned' on it, we just hoped it would come our way.
As I awaited for love to knock, I also judiciously observed how love unfurled around me. Every winter it used to get very foggy in the mornings where I was born. But as providence would have it, we all had to still go to our respective private tutors at 6 in the morning trying to crack the frivolities of laws of motion, organic chemistry and Poisson distribution. Private tutorials were heavens for budding romances, writing on each other's copies, playing footsies and stealing glances. There was this one boy, who had particular interest in a girl friend of mine. He would cycle next to her rickshaw every morning, wearing a traditional monkey cap and mittens. He was not part of the same tuition, but would always be there to guard her in those foggy mornings. In him, love smiled.
One of the most memorable love stories of my childhood was that of a kaku and kakima's (uncle and aunt). She a talented singer, he a tabla player. They were the silent lovers type, always a team, always together. Today when I see myself or friends around me trying to analyse every single aspect of marital discord, I wonder how those two, without so much so having any disagreement in public, led such a loved life. He would look at her and know when to stop and she would pout her lips and make him forget his argument. In them, love lived.
A certain school mate of mine nurtured rather loving feelings for another girl. They had been studying together for 18 years, but never quite expressed their mutual feelings. Years later, the boy knocked at her door and told her that he has got a job and would like to marry her. She stared at him for a while. Today, they are happy parents of a lovely daughter. In them, love dreamed.
As the decades passed by, I've seen the various incorrigible enactments of love changing and metamorphosing from emails to psychedelic parties. 'Am not so sure if that is love as I see it, but every now and then I do see his eyes following her on the dance floors, a look that is torn between longing for a long lasting comfort and momentary comfort, a stare that wants to belong and the one that wants to explore. In them, love changed.
I do not want to define love, but I see love when my cook accompanies his wife to their village to attend her father's funeral, knowing very well that he won't be paid. I see love when he takes her on occasional evening walks in the park in between work, and she smiles shyly. I see love when the untouched side of a bed awaits for someone's return, I see love when my neighbour's wife smiles proudly at her husband's vegetable garden and I see love when someone narrates their love stories with equal passion as if it happened yesterday after 20 years. I see love when a friend cries profusely over a lifetime of separation, I see love when I see the couples holding hands, eating Indian food on Devon street, Chicago. I feel love when I ...
So with so many love stories and yet so many heartbreaks, is love overrated? A friend once told me, "Love is not overrated, romance is." Probably she is right, but I stay a die hard romantic, incorrigible, daydreamer for whom love is just plain beautiful.
What are your thoughts on love?