Is this love?

LOVE- something that has intrigued me since I was a little girl and watched Bollywood movies of the hero romancing the heroine and running around tress and thought- Is this love?

And when I had my first crush at the age of 10- he is the one I thought, though I hardly knew him and I can't even recall his name now- and I then thought - This is love.

Then I grew up and had innumerable crushes and butterflies in my stomach- this was in the 90's and we were far behind the generation today. It just meant looking into each other's eyes and then quickly shifting gaze, laughing shyly and sending Archies and Hallmark Greeting cards. Was this love?

And then I met someone who was a good friend but I thought we could be much more, we hit it off so well, belonged to the same profession, we had different interests but don't they say opposites attract? This was surely love. But, alas it wasn't. It was a heartbreak that took too long to recuperate, but today looking back, I cannot be happier that it happened then and left me low for a brief period rather than my desire would have been fulfilled and it would have led to a lifelong of regret and remorse. I wish him well but I know that was not love.

So what is love then?

Is it someone showering you with lots of kisses and gifts and making you feel special, whispering sweet nothings in your ears and making your heart flutter? Is that that tinge and glow of happiness, the sparkle in your eyes as you look at yourself in the mirror and remember how he looked at you with eyes full of love? Is it not being the typical romantic couple who says I love you but , being there for your love, when she needs you- be it a happiness to be shared or a shoulder to grieve on.

I have always been the diehard bollywood type of girl and 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. A dear friend of mine- who was about to get married told me about all these romantic gestures and special magical moments her fiancé created for her on her bday. And when I once visited her after her wedding I was pleasantly surprised to see a new woman here 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 me and my mom. 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 had found out and confronted him, he refused to mend his ways and calmly told her, you will have to accept things as they are, else 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.

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. He helped her cook, got the kids ready for school, plaited my mom's hair, he was the one who took days off when the kids were ill. He let her rise in her career and fulfil her dreams as he stood by her rock solid lest she fall. 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 issues when he was not physically present.  This is surely love.

And my parents- who due to unfortunate reasons are not one but I still see the concern and love which makes my Dad bring that balm for knee ache all the way from Shimla cos he remembered that Mom has been having knee pain these days. This is love.

Someone told me you cannot really marry unless you are in love. This whole concept of arranged marriages is a flawed. Its a farce. And yet I married someone I hardly knew. There's a lifetime to fall in love or it takes just a few seconds, who knows? Was it those snow capped mountains of Kashmir where we soaked in the glory of love or was it the memories of those days where we lovingly tucked into our all time favorite fish?  And then religiously our treat of chocolate fudge ice cream at Corner House. Was it that hug I gave you and the peck on your check as you got back home after a long and grueling day at work and you smiled your brightest smile or was it the stupid fights which made me go mad. Is it the baby who was supposed to bring our closer but we drifted apart or is it the toll of a long distance that was a conscious decision taken but we are struggling to come to terms with.

I found it odd when a friend told me that though he had a love marriage he and his wife never told the 3 magical words "I love you" to each other ever. It feels weird he said, you are weird, I retorted.
But today after life's many bitter sweet experiences, and looking around at the stories of my dear and near ones- I have realized there is no perfect definition of love. It means different things to each one. 
Some may want or express it by way of actions, material gifts and others may not be comfortable expressing it. You can see their love however in those moments when its most needed- in the most unconventional way.

 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 putting her to sleep as Mommy snores nearby blissfully unaware and catching up on some sleep. 

I see it when a guy without any reservations cleans the dishes as his wife cooks and they share a joke.

I see it as a couple in their sunset of life sit by the beach sharing a laugh and some memories.

Love is omnipresent,- it still intrigues me  and though I have found many of my answers , some questions still remain a mystery, yet to be unfolded. 


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