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The flavour of love

By Nickunj Malik - Feb 13,2013 - Last updated at Feb 13,2013

Along with everything else that Valentine’s Day is promoted to be, it is also considered a day of love. At least that is what the greeting card companies would have us believe.

But here it is not just any love we are talking about. The emphasis on this particular date is on romantic love. You know, the kind that Shakespeare made famous in his play “Love’s Labour’s Lost”.

For prospective lovers, it is important to find love and not lose it.

So, how does one discover it? Romantic love, that is. And where exactly does one go looking for it?

When Prince Charles was asked if he was in love, soon after his engagement to Lady Diana, he said: “Of course, whatever love means.”

That ambivalent answer was a sort of precursor to their unhappy marriage, and left his future bride, as well as countless psychoanalysts, totally flummoxed.

If one searches in some of the bestselling musical albums worldwide, one finds strange lyrics like “what’s love got to do with it, what’s love but a second-hand emotion”, by Tina Turner or “What is love, baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more” by Haddaway. This number, when released by the artist in 1993, resonated with so many people that it broke all records in global sales.

Does romantic love always hurt?

C.S. Lewis, the acclaimed novelist, poet and academic, said in his book “The Four Loves”: “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”

Right! Is, then, the entire exercise undertaken only to experience heartbreak?

If so, what kind of people celebrate love? Why is it that the entire world loves a lover? Where are people lucky in love found? What sustains romantic love? How does love conquer all? When does one identify that one is in love?

I remember putting my mother through all these queries.

“You will just know it when the right man comes around,” she would reply in her most placid voice. 

“How will I recognise him,” I would persist?

“Are there any signs to look for,” I would prod?

But my subsequent probing would be clubbed together under the same stoic response.

All along, I never got around to analysing it, but this Valentine’s Day, I thought I might as well corner my spouse of 25 years.

“When did you know I was the right person for you?” I asked him over breakfast.

“Yes dear,” he mumbled, from behind the newspaper.

“Why are you not answering my question,” I countered.

“Yes dear,” he repeated.

“You never listen to me, why do I even waste my breath,” I was about to stomp off. 

“From the first moment I saw you. You were wearing turquoise dungarees and a bright yellow shirt, you had silver bangles from your wrist till your elbows, you looked like a gypsy and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said with twinkling eyes, lowering the paper.

Love, actually?

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