Saturday, July 31

It's Only Love 

Of all the things that are overrated in life, the one that strikes me every so often and irrevocably so is love. Of course, if you’re madly in love with someone and truly believe you can’t live without them or that your world will come apart if they turn their back on you, you might say I’m completely out of whack for saying so. Or you may think I’m alluding to idolatry, or lust, or any of the repercussions of love. But no, I’m not, and I could take off on a whole new tangent with my inferences on those.

Then again, I may have agreed with you if I was still a teen. I know the topic has been done to death already, but like most dreamy, romantic teens, I too imagined a love life that would color my world a glossy hint of rose, and pored over love song lyrics to the minutest semasiological degree until there was nothing left to decipher in them if one kicked and tossed them over and about. I had even picked some ideal life partners in a roll over the span of a few teenage years -- among them was an uncle (whose divorce with my aunt years later completely astounded me), a cousin’s husband, a Hollywood actor, a singer, and a news reader. And even before I had the acumen to pick out the virtues and have related reveries, I used to admire the on-now, off-now bond my grandparents shared.

My grandpa kept a diary all his adult life, recorded daily goings on unfailingly, without wincing over even the most mundane or menial of occurences, including my grandma’s ceremonial, weekly oil baths. The insiders’ joke, if you will, was that my grandma spent a little over 3 hours on these baths. My grandpa had returned from grocery shopping one summer afternoon, to find that the door was double-locked, and the sound of water running in the bathroom was booming through the walls of the house. Anticipating the worst in terms of appetence-inducing waiting hours, he traversed several kilometers to my parents’ home, requesting my mom to serve him a good lunch and some buttermilk to wash it down with. I may have missed observing them when they were younger, and living on their own; and that perhaps was a good thing. As they grew older, the unrest that plagues middle-aged couples had come to settle a bit, according to my mom. And even though they bickered over the most preposterous issues everyday when they were well into their sixties/ seventies and staying with us, the essence of their togetherness was very unique. They wouldn’t eat without sharing with each other, and spent their evenings on a park bench, holding hands and grinning and bearing the other's exegesis on topics ranging from the price of milk to the roguish demeanor of the youth. These evening walks were possibly as ceremonious as the oil baths. My grandma would spend an hour getting dressed -- her one-a-day signature Kanjeevaram with color and motif co-ordinated jewelry, her silken white tresses braided and complected with jasmines on a string, and the edge of her ‘pallu’ held lithely in her quivering right hand. And then they’d fight over her being over-dressed for an evening walk, and she’d question if he was capable of walloping thieves with his Japanese walking stick.

But years hence, I began to comprehend the mystery behind her pent-up rage against him, feeling a sense of pity and exasperation at the same time. She had borne 14 of his children, year after successive year, and had had virtually no time to recuperate or get a hold of her reality. She was uneducated, had no thirst for acquiring any form of knowledge, incapable of fending for herself, and that externalized into an in inexplicable inertia when it came to caring for him or her own children. There was no real depth to the love between them, and it was more of an inevasible onus toward a liaison to hold together until the last breath. And of course, familiarity had bred some mutual regard and contempt to trudge along with an on-now, off-now spirit.

Well, needless to say, as much as I like to deny it, I have since grown up for what it’s worth. Even though I have no distinct measure to prove it by action. I grew up, fell in love, and married the man who ruled my dreams and desires. I am happily married and there is more than enough love and respect between us to sustain us for a lifetime. But love doesn’t manifest in the form of golden confetti over a sparkling rainbow or isn’t something we proclaim to each other everyday, holding the butterflies in our stomachs. Love is an underlying theme that steers the focus on to the bigger picture. And I think that love is overrated because it is not the only binding factor for companionship. I think love is a path to self-discovery for partners, and if not for the quixotic trip I went on at the outset that made me teeter just a little before I warmed my feet up for the gravelly path ahead, I’d have been an all-submissive lover, losing myself and my balance in the process. I think love should make one realize they’re alone, and not that they’re together with someone. That then is love in its purest form, mellow and moderate and exuding a sense of tranquility as opposed to a chaotic tampering with the energies of each partner. Love is not all fairy-tale fluff and kiss and yell from the rooftops. Love should translate into other forms of emotions and then it is love in its entirety. And perhaps, just perhaps, when I grow up a little more, I’ll have something else to add..

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