Echo And Narcissus, John William Waterhouse. Wikimedia Commons
Snapshot
  • Beginning with the epochs of ancient philosophy to the aeons of medical science; philosophers, thinkers, writers, artists, anthropologists, biologists and of course, every living-breathing man and woman has tried—in vain!—to explain the strange phenomenon called Love.

Beginning with the epochs of ancient philosophy to the aeons of medical science; philosophers, thinkers, writers, artists, anthropologists, biologists and of course, every living-breathing man and woman has tried—in vain!—to explain the strange phenomenon called Love. Of course, I am not here to explain it (I am no expert in the matter of love), but I certainly want to learn about it (for I am, after all, an eager student enrolled in the glorious college called Life). But before I take my first class in Love-ology or go through the mandated course work, I need to introduce myself to the rest of the class!

PS: That includes all of you, even the absentees who are not reading this column.

My first chance meeting with Love happened purely perchance. I was barely five, while the boy was seven and was riding a “sexy” tricycle when he caught my eye—and somehow managed to catch my heart. Distance…the lack of phones/ WhatsApp/ Facebook, combined with the fact that we, in fact, grew up…managed to bring our puppy love to an abrupt end. But not before I realised that first love—even when you don’t understand the concept of love—is the most beautiful feeling in the world. To that man, who stole my heart as a boy…Wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Hope you, your wife and your children have a great time.

My second encounter was just that—an encounter! I was gearing up for a life of service, since I wished to renounce the pleasures of the flesh in order to join the convent so I could work for the upliftment of society. Unfortunately, at the age of 15…instead of rising to the occasion, I fell—helplessly and hopelessly—in love…with a man I barely spoke to for a few minutes. Unfortunately, distance wasn’t the only thing I had to deal with in my love for him. It was the first time, I came face to face with the scariest aspect of love—the unrequited kind! To that man, who never loved me but inadvertently became the muse of my expressed and internationally published anguish…Wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Hope you and my-cousin’s-ex-and-your-present wife have a great life.

Post that, Love itself became a game…and I became the quintessential player. Since I became incapable of feeling anything for the men I dated, I became a serial dater. I dated…I dumped…I dated…I dumped…I dated…I dumped…(well, you get the picture). In case you don’t…this will help: My friends, for instance, seldom asked me, “What’s new?” Their only question was: “So, who’s new?” To those men, most of whose names I unfortunately don’t remember…Wish you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Hope you and your better halves have a much better love life and last longer than we did. In short, wish you all a Duracell marriage!

Of course, just in case some of you aren’t married, feel free to look me up. Of course, as Father Time pottered along…I finally reached the biological age of matrimony. And like any other sensible woman, I knew Love could not serve me well when it came to choosing a spouse. After all, when choosing a mate, the head must overpower the heart. And thus…with the notion of love discarded, I shortlisted a man, who met all the tick-marks on my short checklist. I suppose, I met most of his ideals too. But then, catastrophe struck. Cupid found the secret resting place of my bereaved heart. And before I could stop him, his arrow found its mark and I found myself…wounded and in love…for the very first time! That was, in reality, the first time, I was ever in love.

I could die for him and I knew, he could die for me. We loved each other…we trusted each other…and sometimes, we even hated each other. But we never stopped loving each other—despite the fights and the fiascos. (Note: I know what you must be thinking: why am I single if he and I were picture perfect?) You see…I was wrong. Unrequited love is not the scariest or saddest aspect of love. The saddest thing in life is to fall in love with someone who is also in love with you but still remains out of bounds for he is bounded (by law) to someone else.

That’s right: I fell in love with a married man. And so I did the only respectable thing a principled woman could do…I bid him adieu and walked out of his life. Note: To that man, who taught me that the truest meaning of love was sacrifice…Wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Hope you find all the happiness in the world, even though it isn’t with me. Post the tryst with love’s truest love, I never loved again. For how do you love with mediocrity when you have loved miraculously! And so, I walked the path of life…with his love-in-absentia for constant company. But soon I realised— thankfully, for the very first time!—love is not the presence of someone in your life…love is not even the absence of someone in your life. There was more to love and that’s what I needed to learn.

And so, I began a decade-long love affair with the most fabulous person on the planet—ME! That’s right—I fell in love with myself. (Note to reader: As corny or narcissistic as that sounds, I really did fall in love with myself. And just in case, you’re wondering what exactly did I love about myself…let me recount the myriad reasons why I love myself. Also why and how, I put the “her” in “hermit”!) You see…I fell in love with my eccentricities. I fell in love with my foolishness. I fell in love with my sentimentality. In short, I fell in love with everything about myself: the scars on my heart and the scars on my body. The light in my eyes and the darkness in my soul. The warmth of my voice and the coldness of my silence. The agility of my words and the steadiness of my thoughts. Even imperfect, I was still perfect! But then, why am I back at the school of life? Why do I want to learn about love again? You see…I met my soulmate! I finally found the one who reminds me of myself.

But I know, I am courting trouble for I now run the risk of following Narcissus to his fatal fate. For like Narcissus…I too have been cursed to fall in love with my own reflection…without knowing if the reflection can truly ever love me back! Then again, maybe the reflection can reflect on our reflection together…and find a way for us to merge our reflections without deserting our individual bodies. To that man, who is my soulmate…the C3PO to my R2D2 and to whom I dedicate this month’s column…I wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day. You have invariably become my nemesis and my saviour…Irrespective whether you choose to destroy or to save.Beginning with the epochs of ancient philosophy to the aeons of medical science; philosophers, thinkers, writers, artists, anthropologists, biologists and of course, every living-breathing man and woman has tried—in vain!—to explain the strange phenomenon called Love.

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