Love has intrigued me since I was a little girl and watched Bollywood heroes romancing the heroine and running around trees and wondered, “Is this love?”
And when I had my first crush at the age of 10, though I hardly knew him and I can’t even recall his name now, I thought: “This is love.”
Then I grew up in the ‘90s and had innumerable crushes and butterflies in my stomach; we were far behind today’s generation, looking into each other’s eyes and then quickly shifting gaze, laughing shyly and sending Archies and Hallmark Greeting cards. Was this love?
I have always had this fantasy of my lover planning surprises for me, gifting me stuff I like on special days, making impromptu trips and creating memories together.
An engaged friend told me about the romantic gestures and special magical moments her fiancé created for her on her birthday. And when I once visited her after her wedding I was pleasantly surprised to see a new woman before me; gone was the shy salwar clad girl, here was a young woman who was not shy to put her hands around her hubby and lovingly stroke his hair in front of my mom and me. “He transformed me, he is amazing, that’s the power of love,” she said. And I thought, “Maybe that’s love.” My notion of love was badly shaken when I called her to invite her for my wedding and she cried her heart out, revealing that her man was having an affair. She found out and confronted him, he refused to mend his ways and calmly told her, “You will have to accept things as they are, otherwise you are free to walk away.” It led to a lot of physical and mental trauma for my friend and I was certain, “This is not love. This can never be love.”
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What is love then? Is it the 55 years of companionship my grandparents shared as they supported each other’s goals and ambitions? In an era which was male centric, my grandfather assumed the role of the caregiver in many ways.
Theirs was a unique love story, a love marriage in the ‘60s, a marriage where the roles were reversed. She has always been the ambitious go-getter and wanted to excel at her job. A less demanding job gave him time to attend to the kids, get them ready for school, plait his daughter’s hair, help in cooking and take days off when the kids were not well. He let her rise in her career and fulfil her dreams, as he stood by her rock solid. They held hands and they look like a couple very much in love in all the photos. They said those magic words to each other, too, and hugged each other and literally lived those words. And the day he breathed his last, he made sure he had made all provisions for her well being and she would not face any problems after him. This is surely love.
My grandma has spent more than 2 years without her companion and soul mate, but remembers him every time we eat something sweet, “Ah, he would have loved this!” or when she sees my baby chuckle and fondly recalls how much he loved kids and wishes he were here to see his great grandchild. I don’t think she can ever get over those days and that life, or someone who was such an integral part of her life. The memories linger on in her heart and she braves life with cheer and gusto, as she knew this is what he would have always wanted for her.
Today, after life’s many bittersweet experiences, and hearing the stories of my near and dear ones, I have realised there is no single definition of love. It means different things to everyone.
I see it at the maternity hospital as the wife who is heavily pregnant wants to puke and the husband just holds his hands in front of her mouth and tells her, “Don’t worry, just get it out. I am with you.”
I see it as a dad lovingly changes his baby’s diapers and sings her a lullaby as Mommy catches up on some sleep.
I see it when a guy cleans the dishes as his wife cooks and they share a joke.
I see it as a couple in their sunset of life sit on the beach sharing a laugh and some memories.
Love is omnipresent; it still intrigues me, and though I have found many answers, some questions still remain a mystery, yet to be unfolded.