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Posted at: Jan 7, 2018, 1:34 AM; last updated: Jan 7, 2018, 1:34 AM (IST)

At the heart of it, it’s still love

Oscillating between happiness and sorrow, love and its offshoot emotions continue to remain the same
At the heart of it, it’s still love
Illustration: sandeep joshi

Ravinder Singh

Ten years back, about this time of the year, warmly tucked in my blanket, I was writing my first novel. Those were my initial few weeks in the beautiful city of Chandigarh. Before that I lived in Bhubaneswar. As a matter of fact, I have lived the first 26 years of my life in Odisha and I had seldom wanted to move out of the place I had grown up calling home. A personal tragedy made me shift to a new place, in search of a new home among new folks. Back then, I was working with Infosys and was lucky enough to get my base location transferred from their Bhubaneswar office to the one in Chandigarh. I was a techie then. 

Ten years later, around the same time of the year, warmly tucked in my blanket yet again, I am writing this column — not as a techie but as an author. This is my identity now. The techie in me has been long left behind in this journey—the journey of storytelling.

This month, my debut novel I Too Had A Love Story stepped into its tenth year and here I am, reflecting on my journey as an author and more so, on the subject of love that I have predominantly written about in the last decade. One of the questions that has frequently come across over social media, at book launches and lit fests remains — What’s love? It is a simple question and yet the answer is so complicated. People believe that as an author, who writes love stories, I am supposed to know everything about love. I often ask them why don’t they Google the question and find out. They would find infinite answers and that many would have answered it in a much better way than I ever can. However, my response doesn’t satisfy their urge and they ask me again, ‘But we need to know what’s your understanding of love Ravinder?’

The beauty of a subjective question lies in the multiple versions of its answers. Perhaps that’s what people want to know — yet another interpretation of love.

To love and be loved are fundamental to human beings. Unlike majority of other relationships that we are born with or fall into, romantic love remains a process of natural selection where we choose one over everything else. We begin to experience it at different stages in our lives but mostly when puberty kicks in, hormones begin to play their games and we feel butterflies in our stomach, we yearn for that one person who would complete us.

People themselves also know the answer to the most pertinent question. It’s just that they want to confirm if my understanding of love is close enough to theirs and if not, then to what degree do we differ and how? Besides, how you put love in words or define love, doesn’t matter, what you experience does. 

The thing with love is that people’s definition of the emotion changes on the basis of what they are going through in their love life at that moment. Ask someone who has experienced her first kiss just the night before to define it. Then ask someone who has suffered her first breakup to explain it. Chances are that you will hear contradictory views from the two. Chances also are that years later, if you happen to bump into these two people and ask the same question, you may get completely opposite answers. 

So is the definition of love circumstantial in nature? Certainly not! Love in its vastness is the sum of all feelings that it can manifest and only that is its holistic definition. It is a catalogue of all human emotions that range from the extremes of happiness to the other extremes of sorrow.

In my writing career of 10 years, I have closely observed the nature of love in the lives of people around me. While at the core of it, love has remained the same for ages, a lot of its outside has changed in the past few decades. We have gone beyond reading Cinderella love stories and now enjoy reading those stories that are real — the ones we can identify with. We are now also exposed to the natural love stories of the perceived unnatural love between people of the same gender. People are coming out of their closets and expressing their desires. Then there is one hell of a temptation presenting itself in the extramarital affairs — disapproved by society, but secretly indulged in privacy. There are those who have boldly moved into open relationships. 

The choice between taking a divorce and accepting an unhappy marriage for rest of their lives is making people step back and think about their insecurities. Today, the villain in Romeo and Juliet’s story isn’t the society, but Romeo and Juliet themselves. They aren’t sure. The doubts are making them prefer to be in a live-in relationship to getting married. Come to think of it, it is like a simulation of marriage even before taking that leap of faith.

The 21st century woman is more independent than ever before and she would have her say, just the way the man had his till so long. A romantic relationship is no longer about a woman agreeing to live her life on the terms and conditions put in place by the man. The rules of this game are changing and they are changing faster than ever before. The invasion of technology in the world of relationship has brought in the ease of finding and discovering relationships. At the same time, these are providing enough distractions, threatening that very relationship. We are spoiled for choices and hence we aren’t able to make up our mind.

 If you think technology has done what it ought to, wait for another decade. We might get robots as our partners, for we expect our partners to be perfect and behave the way we want. 

These permutations and combinations in relationships, the tussle between mind and heart, confrontations between an individual’s desires and approval of society, invasion of technology, all of it have made love more chaotic than ever before. And in this space of beautiful chaos, we still wish for a, ‘and they lived happily ever after’.

— The writer is the author of I Too Had a Love Story


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