Only love

Generations in a family love and hate. Usually, it is the love that makes it to photo galleries.

It is only love. Or is it? I would never say ‘love’ and ‘only’ in the same sentence. Or allow ‘only’ to come any closer than two paragraphs. Never. Because — it is an emotion that punches you at a point (still unknown to science, philosophy, religion, and whatever else likes to blow its trumpet)  with such heart-numbing, heart-stupidifying precision that you see stars, feel winded enough to wonder whether you had ever in your life breathed at all, smell heaven from wherever you are, cry bitter tears, and sweet too, see hell everywhere else, or right here — all at once. An emotion like no other. Only? I am not off my rocker.

Why in the world am I writing about it, then? Something that can’t be quantified, judged or in most cases, expressed in words? No, not because it is Valentine’s Week, as the retail market is wont to call it. (Today is Promise Day, by the way.) Perhaps it is because I feel obligated to continue the sequence of emotions I have promised myself to cover in this category. And probably because I love. And so do you. Same pinch. (Or punch).

But I confess there is no purpose, no message to give, no angst to release, no thoughts to share. At the end of this post, you will be right where you started. Some things still have to be done, however. So, for all these reasons, and my love for sparring with the undoable, I am going ahead.

Our dogs' love for killing the grass takes precedence over our love for a breathtakingly green patch. Such is life.

The beauty and horror of love could spin us around a million times over, and back. In fact, it has! Heartaches float invisibly, acting like catalysts to give birth to music, paintings, photos, sculptures. The Wheel, even. And there are even more healed hearts to revolutionise art and science and sports and religion. And the retail market, as we all know. Haven’t you noticed how they fuel all of our planet’s existence, demise and rebirth?  Isn’t it justified, then, to think that it is so, so very empty to try to express it through a card, send in chocolates or big diamond rings? And yet – surprise of all surprises! – it is so meaningful to express it through a card, send in chocolates or big diamond rings. Whatever the choice.

The horror begins when things come to choice, actually.

You simply love biking. And you love your spouse and children, who’d rather sit in the garden and count the bushes. You love counting the bushes and you love them, too, of course. But you have to choose. Bike or Bush. (The latter with your family thrown in as a bonus). Choose both? Choose one? Choose none and run away with a tattoo-maker? Like everything else in the 21st century, there are options galore! (In fact, I suspect it must be for the love of things and misery that we’ve decided to inundate our closets with options. And throw the skeletons out. We have evolved, Darwin.)

So, back to love options. They do cause hyperventilation of all kinds, don’t they, now? And yet we go on. It is a many-splendoured thing, after all.

A tacit understanding of trials and past glories could be love, too. My brother's fascination for sharks must have come from his belief that he was on the Titanic in his last birth and was eaten by a shark on his way down. I believed the same, except I thought I had drowned. We discovered our common belief much later, when we were adults and found it all right to share our hitherto hidden nightmares. After we'd talked about it, the words 'shark' and 'drown' never had the same meaning for us again. And though there is no glory in being eaten by a shark or in drowning, there was love in the understanding.

It is the phenomenon that makes people understand without having to use language. It is the energy that can make a person rise up and say, “I am alive, because I love. And am loved.” It is the lovesome succor for the soul that makes people get up in the morning to make bed tea for their loved one. Or do something else that is their cup of tea. Love, not surprisingly, needs no words to understand. And yet, surprisingly again, words make so much difference. Or gestures. Perhaps love cannot survive without a carrier, regardless of what it is.

The splendours of love. Who’s to count them? And how? And more importantly, why? As long as love for one is there, floating through the mists of life, at once illuminating and relaxing, never tugging at a love for another, there is hope.



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15 thoughts on “Only love”

  1. You say that love can’t be expressed in words, then you go ahead and prove that it can. Priya, this is one of your most beautiful essays. It’s like a breathless, whirlwind tour of an emotion so many people struggle to express. And while I was surprised to see the image of a shark as part of a look at love, the caption under that photo turned out to be my favorite part of all.

    Thank you for writing this. The perfect Valentine’s Day card would contain just a link to this post.

    1. I used to, Val. But I came to the conclusion that he must have moved on. He already gave in this one life more than many people do in several lifetimes. 🙂

  2. What a beautiful post Priya. Such heartfelt writing, and I love your photos, and your link to your brother and the Titanic just took my breath away.

    When do you get time to do all this writing? I think you said you’re a school teacher?

    1. I no longer teach, Rosie. I am a freelance translator now. The joy of freelancing is that there are some days when 24 hours seem more than sufficient. And some other, when you feel there was a special kitty of time just for you. 🙂

  3. Came here via bronxboy55 to find this post. It is so hard to write about love and be original, and yet you have managed it. Kudos.

    I especially identified with this part:

    “You simply love biking. And you love your spouse and children, who’d rather sit in the garden and count the bushes. You love counting the bushes and you love them, too, of course. But you have to choose. Bike or Bush. (The latter with your family thrown in as a bonus). Choose both? Choose one? Choose none and run away with a tattoo-maker?”

    And your dogs look awesome…what breed are they?

    1. Thank you, Damyanti. It gives me joy to know that you think I did well with this post. Each person’s love, I think, is original in a way! And so is the expression.

      Moti The Mix (German Shepherd/Doberman) and Bulu the Rottweiler keep our dreary freelancing routine quite alive. They are truly awesome.

  4. Priya — what a beautiful post!! I loved the way it leaped and swept and twirled around like a dance… and then the remarkable shark photo and story of your brother! Did you really both dream of going down on the Titanic? How remarkable !! Loved this post (and your doggies are very adorable, too!) Happy Valentine’s Day from a big fan of flowers AND chocolate (hold the diamonds) — xoxoxo B

    1. I am absolutely wowed to see you here, Betty. And I am very glad that you liked this post. Likened it to a dance, even. Who was know what the virtual world can make one accomplish? (My real-world twirls and leaps, well, they’re something else altogether.)

      I am a very flowers, girl, too.

      A Very Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours.

  5. “Heartaches float invisibly, acting like catalysts to give birth to music, paintings, photos, sculptures. The Wheel, even. And there are even more healed hearts to revolutionise art and science and sports and religion.” Priya, you have given me more understanding about why I love art. It seems so obvious after reading this, but it took your words to help me figure it out. Such a beautiful post.

    I also loved and related to the caption for your first photo. I hate to quote someone as schmaltzy as the Captain and Tenille (!) but it made me think of “Love will keep us together!” I’m sure there are other lyrics from other singers that are far more prolific, but that’s what popped into my mind first – probably because I also love laughter.

    Thank you, Priya. And Charles. I am so behind on my reading of posts, but he suggested I make time to read this. He’s a smart one, that Charles. Full of bright ideas.

    1. Charles is full of bright ideas, indeed, AA. We must consider kidnapping him and forcing him to remove the ‘mostly’!

      I am really happy to know that you liked my post for whatever it is worth. I keep telling myself to not post the next one, since it is usually so grim and stiff upper lippy. Or whatever name there is for such words that take themselves too seriously!

      I haven’t heard Captain and Tenille, but if they make you laugh, they are worth the listening (And “Love will keep us together” is a thought that always sounds good.)

      Thank you again.

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