Though it was the romantic monsoon season in Ahmedabad, I had come to the track in a sour mood. As it started drizzling and then pouring, most of the walkers ran to shelter, except for the young couple ahead of me. They were just about ten paces ahead and I could see that the rains, if anything, had heightened their joie de vivre. They were walking hand in hand, raising their heads every once in a while to gulp the raindrops, whispering into each other’s ears, giggling, blushing, oblivious to the world around them!
It was easy to see that they were in love. My lips too curved in a smile, and the world in that instant transformed into a wonderful, happy place where love had coloured everything ‘beautiful’. The rain and the couple ahead had cleansed me of all negativity and misgivings.
Love, it seems, has that effect on most of us. It not only brings hope and beauty in this otherwise chaotic world that we live in, but also makes us feel meaningful and important. We are a world of six billion plus; how inconsequential a solitary ‘I’ is in the face of this huge mass. Yet in the eyes of the beloved and other loved ones, that one miniscule ‘I’ is the world and in it, the inconsequentiality is rendered void.
In the end, that is all we need, isn’t it? To feel ‘wanted’, ‘desired’,
to know that we matter. Love makes us feel worthwhile.
I was reading the memoirs of survivors of the Holocaust. Many wrote of how in the thoughts and memories of their precious ones they could experience, even if for a few seconds, moments of happiness and pleasure in the otherwise unbearably oppressive life inside the walls of the concentration camps. Others confessed that stripped of all dignity, many often considered giving up all, but it was the hope of being reunited with their loved ones, which gave them the mental strength to hold on. Love gave their bodies and minds a reason to rise beyond their means.
‘Love makes the world go round,’ wrote Ollie Jones in 1958, a song which was a major hit. As I was working on the numerous entries for the collection Chicken Soup for the Indian Romantic Soul, I saw that ‘love’ not just made the writers’ world go round, but often formed the foundation on which they built satisfying, happy and meaningful lives. It was this very ‘love’ that acted, time and again, as their safety net every time they fell flat while battling the vicissitudes and challenges posed by a highly competitive and fast-paced world. The security and support from their beloved gave them the strength and the much needed succour to stand their ground. Love makes us stronger than we are.
Love can transform the commonplace into beauty and splendour, love is the source of much creativity, and in its intoxicating folds we ordinary humans can experience eternity. All through the ages, we’ve heard of the magical power of love and its impact upon our minds and lives. We have all too often known love to be our blessing and our saviour. And yet, consciously or unknowingly, we keep this treasure at bay!
I once attended a workshop of a famed spiritual guru. He shared with us the results of a survey in which six hundred people on their deathbeds from all sections of life were asked about their three biggest regrets in life. The most common regret was that they had not told their significant others (which included not only their spouses, children and parents but also friends, colleagues and extended families) how much they were loved and valued. And to the select few that they did tell, it was not often enough.
We were then asked to draw up our own list of people whom we would have liked to convey our love to and also the reason behind it, as if it was our last day on earth. We were also asked to mention the reason for inaction. As my list of people and reasons emerged, I was gripped by a conflicting sense of joy and sorrow. Joy, because I was blessed to have the people I had in my life, people I loved and received love back from; sorrow, because many in that list perhaps did not even know what they meant to me! My excuses that emerged for not telling them appeared trivial: ego, timidity, fear of being judged as an emotional fool, indolence and at times the thought of “what if I was taken ‘otherwise’.” These reasons seemed very unimportant when set against the irrevocability of death.
And yet even today I tend to forget that lesson from the spiritual guru and expend my energy and time on all that is unlovable. Outside, as if to remind me, nature celebrates the meeting of earth and sky in myriad hues, peacocks dance to call their mates, squirrels chase each other in playful love, flowers bloom to speak of their lovers, and I keep my softer emotions under wraps because…