In any language, no other word is as loaded with meaning and weighed down with expectations as love. The need to love and be loved is universal. A plant, mute and inexpressive as a stone, will still search for the warm envelope of the sunshine, just as a child will look for their mother’s lap. Love, it seems, needs no language.
For something that mostly commences from something as harmless as a look, ‘love’ sure is a powerful puppeteer. Wars have been waged, families have been abandoned and people have been killed – all in the name of love. Or perhaps, we are the gullible ones. What starts out as love in every relationship transforms, evolves and adapts.
As young adults, we profess our feelings to the other – and a phone call often becomes the barometer of the strength of our relationship. If he said he will call – and then, by some sleight of fate, he doesn’t – she will arrive at the worst conclusion and profess the deepest tragedies. The poor chap’s phone may just have run out of charge, but her mind will race to the worst-case scenarios. Talking on the phone the entire night (just because neither wants to cut the call), pacifying the butterflies that break into Zumba, every time a look is shared and feeling the electricity zipping through every time you touch each other – Ah! Young neophytic love is so visceral in its reality.
We grow up and so does love. Soon, the emblem of the truth of our emotions is the ring on our finger. Mind you, our reason is still blinded by the absolute divinity of our other halves. You wait unabashedly to return home daily to the comforts of a conjoined existence and shared conversations. There is still so much to discover about the other human who shares your roof. Everything is endearing about them – the way he clears his throat, how she sticks out her tongue when concentrating on something, the semi-edible breakfast he makes on Sundays, how she manages to take three hours to get ready for a party. Nothing can come between them. And now, you are sure – this is love. It has to be.
A relationship that has decades under its belt won’t spare a thought for missed calls, forgotten birthdays or not seeing each other’s face every single day. To me, old love is like fine wine – subdued and delicate. While young love prances around in its ebullient salsa, at the center stage, the older love waltzes to the corner, sits down and holds hands. One exhibits its opulence of emotions – the other knows, satisfied in its austerity.
Does that stop the onward march of our love towards reaching the ultimate perfection of form and feeling? No. With every hardship, every success, every sorrow or joy that a relationship undergoes, it metamorphoses into a more encompassing emotion. What’s love to a 1-month-old relationship is very different to what it is for a marriage celebrating its golden jubilee. They are both veracious, virtuous and valid. One is not better than the other – they are just unique.
Love is what makes us whole when the world has carved out its pound of flesh from us. It is that we search for when we want to glue the broken pieces of our selves together. Love is all that’s worth living for, in this life. Then, why must we shy away from feeling it or expressing it to the people we love?
After having known my husband for almost two decades now, I think I will celebrate Valentine’s Day for the first time this year. Not because I want to add my bit to the consumerism, but because we need to exalt the love in our lives. We need to put it on a pedestal and mark it as all that is sacred, true and essential to derive meaning and joy in our ephemeral lives. Love is the existential hallmark of our brief presence on this planet. So why not, I ask.
It doesn’t need greeting cards, teddy bears, flowers or alcohol. They would do too – but without them, like crutches, it shall move along just fine. A bonfire in the backyard, a walk in the park, a bowl of soup halved or a poem read out loud can do the trick just as well. Of course, chocolates and wine would be essential.
We may be made of bones, but we are more souls and stardust. To have found the other half of our soul swirling around in this universe, to have felt, reciprocated and received something so immaculately divine, to have embarked on this epic, cosmic journey together – what isn’t there to celebrate in this life? This is the stuff of legends. This is love. This…
This is magic!