I was listening to an old Hindi song. It was Meera telling Krishna that, in essence, he loved only Radha, and yet people blame her for loving him – unrequitedly.
श्याम तेरी बंसी पुकारे राधा नाम
लोग करे मीरा को यूँ ही बदनाम
To which he replies:
सावरे की बंसी को बजने से कम
राधा का भी श्याम वो तो मीयर्रा का भी श्याम
This is an element of love I think that very few people realise. Apparently, it’s something that I happened to learn after forty years of living and loving. Though I knew I was the kind of person who never “fell out of love”. Truthfully, I believe if someone can do that he or she wasn’t in love in the first place.
Romantically, in my life thus far, I have been in three relationships. And I still love all three men. How is that possible? Easy. Each person is an individual. Each person has his own unique and utterly different character. I loved M because of his passion, his voice, his energy, he was my first love. I remember the first time we kissed. I remember the times we shared. I remember his smile, his handwriting, his hair. So the love I have for him is unique, it was custom made for him. It manifested out of me, because of him.
When he left me, I was devastated. I was bereft. I felt as if a part of me was wrenched away. The feeling of loss surrounded me for over years… but I never stopped loving him. I couldn’t even think of him negatively. He had broken my heart, but ironically, the love in it never broke.
The same happened the second time I fell in love… Anders was a Dane. A quintessential dream come true. Blue eyes, strawberry blond, taller than I, mature and calm. An architect. The first movie we saw together was The Horse Whisperer, in Sterling. I remember the first time we kissed, too, we were both actually trembling. The way he made me feel was so different from the way M had made me feel.
At that point in time, at the age of twenty-three, I couldn’t really tell the difference in what I felt. I believed love was love, and like Meera, I would be left bereft. Of course, he loved just me, and truly and deeply – in all the ways love songs would describe it. But after M, I didn’t trust love and, since he was from abroad, I thought that this relationship would meet with the same fate. However, he did return from Denmark. He bought me the most beautiful Christmas tree, all the way from there, because he knew how much I love celebrating Christmas. He had come to spend the holidays with me, and this time it was I who broke a heart.
I was protecting myself, and I was trying to be the mature one. I didn’t think that it would work out because of geography and because of cultural differences. He was willing to try, and I was afraid to. I didn’t realise then that the way he made me feel only he could, and that he was he and not M. I remember his tears, and I remember holding his face against my neck, my hands in his hair, and wondering how I could do that. But I did. Not because I did not love him, but because I was afraid that this love would end the same way the last one did. That was my terrible error. Our relationship ended, but I have not stopped loving him.
When I fell for a guy seven years my junior, I was just beginning to give up on preconceived notions on how love should be. Of course, at twenty-five, I was jealous, possessive and had set views on how love should form its nature. I didn’t realise then that each love forms its own path when two individuals walk it. I tried for many years to make Anand see love through my perspective. I couldn’t understand that romance had nothing to do with love. Passion had nothing to do with love. Jealousy had nothing to do with love. Possession had nothing to do with love.
When he cheated on me thirteen years later, I was not as upset about the physical tearing but about the fact that he couldn’t tell me what was going on with him. By then I had evolved enough to know the difference between the hurt felt post the breaking of trust as opposed to him having sex with another man. So we made a compromise – amongst the hundreds already done – and moved on with love in tow.
Through my teens, and my twenties, I tried incorporating all that I had read and seen in my relationships. There are knights in shining armours, but not always riding horses, or wearing armours. There are love confessions on tall buildings, but those can happen in a quiet bedroom as well. There are beautiful sunsets and hands intertwined in silhouettes but the intertwining can happen on a casual walk to an ice cream shop. I didn’t realise all of this earlier, and I would be upset.
I have learnt that I cannot mold another person to love me in the way he is not capable. But in no way does that mean he doesn’t love me. Love cannot be gauged. It can only be felt.
Over the years, I have come across many men. I related to them over poetry, music, movies, families, events, spaces and thoughts. I realise now that each of them spoke to a side of me that no one else could. Each of them cajoled and satisfied a part of my heart that had hitherto been neglected. In my own way then, I loved and love so many who came across my path. And none of this love ever tampered with the love that already existed in different spaces of my heart.
This is what I understand now. Love isn’t restrictive. It is surely exclusive, but it forms a new facet to include a new exclusion. Who says that love happens once? It happens all the time. That’s the best part of it. It is like this ever expanding light, it reaches out and forms new lights, like some mythic orbit of newly created stars. Each star shining with its own light, special and its very own.