IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE

In The Mood For Love

ontrary to popular belief, the word “Romance” had no connection with love. It simply meant a verse or something Roman, later morphing into “adventurous” and “passion” — something that we now associate it with.

Throughout our life, all we want is to love and to be loved. You can’t see it, but you can feel it. But what makes love such a perennial idea, which has remained with us despite stages of evolution? This concept has taken different forms and meanings over the years, even inspiring various media and spawning a $20.7 billion worth industry based on a romantic holiday.

Throughout our life, all we want is to love and to be loved.

The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight

ur first trysts with love are from music, entertainment, literature, and arts. We base/dream our love life based on these depictions. Art imitates life and we imitate art.

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), but what if the mind is dirty? Various movies think that threatening suicide (Jamai Raja), self-harm (Besharam Bewaffa), stalking-till-you-love-me (Raanjhanaa), possessiveness (Priyamudan), or match-made-in-court (Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat) would make your love interest swoon before you — and the general public, believing that this is the right way, applies it in the real life. The creators sometimes forget that these set a bad precedent for the audience. Also, the accurate, non-hilarious depictions of same-sex relationships are few and far between.

Whether “love at first sight” is real or just a cliché is hotly contested: some may say that its statistical probability is low and that it is just a memory bias, while many believe it is a real McCoy and points to the working of hormones. Regardless of it, even the toughest protagonist falls head over heels when they catch the sight of their beloved. Such is the power of love.

If apple had not fallen for the Earth, Newton would not have found gravity.

It seems like viewers use a formula like =IF(AND(couple=together,couple=happy), “Romantic”, “Tragic”) to straightjacket the movies; but this might not always be the case –sometimes it is better that the protagonists are separated (Darr) and just because the partners are together or happy (The Graduate/The Understudy) doesn’t mean that they will be perfect together.

“Why do we FALL in love and not RISE in love”

The hero marries the heroine, okay. But rarely do movies talk about what happens after it. That’s where most of the messiness in relationships happens (Kramer vs. Kramer, Us).

We aren’t Lochinvar. We cannot bash the goons or fight off the King’s Army. But we can stand up against the bullies (or toxic people) of your loved ones or become understanding like Jim and Della. Or you can simply be with someone during their hard times. It isn’t that complicated. But what usually stands in the way of realizing true love is not some scheming villains: it could be your family members or one’s ego. With its brilliant portrayal of young love, Sally Rooney novels show how misunderstanding(s) could ruin perfect relationships.

No, not all works on love are rubbish. If that was the case, DDLJ, Chiamami Col Tuo Nome, Up, Wuthering Heights, One Day, Love In The Times Of Cholera, Balyakalasakhi, etc. would have not been adored, blissful music that makes us think of our love (even if we don’t have one) would not be enjoyed and we still wouldn’t have believed in love in the 21st century.

Love Aaj Kal 2020

man, distant from the public, relies on an algorithm to find true love… no, this isn’t the story of Her — this is how many of us spent time during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a meteoritic rise in the use of dating apps in the hopes of finding someone to be with and keep their sanity during these tumultuous times (Albeit not set during the pandemic, Mathilukal portrays a romance where the lovers never meet). The relative anonymity and the ability to wear a mask over one’s true self make these platforms endearing to people. Social media brought humanity together, even when they were away.

this isn’t the story of Her — this is how many of us spent time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While lockdown brought strangers closer, there is another side to this. Dua Lipa was right when she sang “I’m on an island even when you’re close” — those locked within the four walls are growing mentally isolated from others. Everyone, due to various reasons, is glued to their screens. While they grow warmer with strangers, they are forgetting to check on their loved ones — who are sitting at the different corners of the house. Those who are stuck at various places due to lockdown are feeling the pangs of separation, whereas some families are bound to be separated because they discovered/couldn’t stand the true colors of their significant others. “Reported” domestic violence cases reached a 10-year high during the lockdown. But many instances of abuse are swept under the rug — all in the name of love.

This lockdown, we kill time dreaming about our love in the past and in the future. But if we ruminate too much, the difference between them blurs and messes up the present. As the distance between lovers reduced (thanks to social media), so did our patience. There are instances of break-ups due to a lover leaving the beloved’s message on seen/unread — forgetting that our ancestors waited days and months to lay hands on their admirers’ letters.

Self Portrait as a Tehuana (Frida Kahlo)

Fret not, this is not a relatively new incident. John Keats himself wrote a lot, pining for Fanny and awaiting Death while quarantining due to the typhus that ravaged Europe. It is funny to note that love in the times of corona is increasingly resembling an Austen drama: epistolary romance, thinking about each other, social distancing, etc.

It took a pandemic to remind us of the importance of people and love. There isn’t even a public to show PDA. Even the ardent deniers of love find themselves in want of companionship; it may not be something romantic or sexual or passionate — just someone to be with.

LABELLEss love

lose your eyes and imagine lovers. It would have been a man-woman couple, right? We have been conditioned to believe that this is the normal. Turns out that love could be something else too (otherwise, NYT would’ve named their column-turned-book-turned-podcast-turned-anthology as Modern Romance rather than Modern Love).

The very first reference about love in Holy Bible is about parental love. We fall in love with inanimate objects too. I love quizzing, my friends love their pets, there are also workaholics. Homosexuality and asexuality are still considered a sin in many parts of the world. Also, why a fixation with “couples”? — there are instances of throuples too. So just because it is not between a man and a woman, do other forms of love cease to be love? Just talking to someone does not constitute love. Romance, whether ephemeral or long-term, is love. Like pouring water into a vessel, love would fit into whatever labels society puts it in. That’s why Kathryn Budig believes that “love should be labelless.”

Relationships could be compared to ECG. There are downs as well as ups, but if we fixate only on ups/downs, it is destined to be doomed. Keep in mind that only when carbon is subjected to friction that it turns into a diamond.

I think the reason why people fall out of love is similar to how kids approach a toy: when they get it first, they become enamored by it; but as time goes by, they grow weary of it. Why do some friendships last longer than other relationships?

Have you ever heard of similar puzzle pieces fitting together? No. “Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves,” wrote Haruki Murakami in his book Kafka On The Shore and I couldn’t agree more.

When you talk to your beloved, minutes turn into hours (that is General Relativity Of Time simplified) and the universe shrinks to just you and them. In the end, all it matters is whether lovers are happy. Or, as the last lines of The Office put it: “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”

Epilogue

This is all I have to write about love… for now. This term is relative. Love is in the heart of the beholder. Love would mean something else/nothing when you grow up. It would be this during a breakup, and that when you fall in love or different when you are between the phases.

Remember: The most important form of love is self-love. Don’t place any relationship above your wellbeing. People come and people go, but it is your self who remains all the while.

“People come and people go, but it is your self who remains all the while.”

You didn’t find your match? Okay, let’s wait and see. You can’t/don't want to find love? All right, this isn’t the end of the world. It is just one of the million joys that life offers you. Go enjoy others.

This is a poster I made after watching Chemical Hearts. It is a literal take on chemical hearts.

Telling terrible stories is my superpower. Safety Not Guaranteed.