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Nonfiction Post on Love
Growing up in a traditional Indian home in the ’80s, “love” is not a word you get to hear too often. Love is there, of course, and you feel it all around you, but you can’t put a name to it. My parents have never once said “I love you.” Not to us kids, and not, in my hearing, to each other.
Putting a word to that emotion happened when I discovered books and stories. One of the first memories I have of this is from the children’s book, What Katy Did. The protagonist of the story, Katy, and her siblings make Valentine Day cards for each other and their parents. Until then, Hallmark or Archies ads had led me to believe that Valentine’s Day was only about romantic love. So this threw me for a loop. Valentines for your brothers and sisters and mom and dad? This novel idea gave me a peek into a larger world of love and its manifestations.
Moving on from children’s books, there are many different types of love in books, and I’m not just talking about romantic novels – historic, action, adventure, fantasy, almost every genre has a love component. Love can be the pure type that one human being has for another or the love of a mother for her child, love for friends, love between couples – young and old. There are so many different types and each of them is beautiful in their own way.
- There are Gothic novels like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre with their sad, broody love.
- Tragic love like in Tale of Two Cities.
- Simple, almost silly, formulaic love of Mills and Boon.
- A mother’s love bordering on the insane in The World According to Garp.
- Poetic love? Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
- Serious, idealistic, punishing love in Fountainhead.
- An almost spiritual love in Erich Segal’s Love Story.
In books, much like in life, there are passionate love affairs and love-hate relationships. For most of my childhood, I learnt about love by reading about it. As an adult, I see these different types of love all around me. Out of the pages of books and into real life. Having read about love in all her different glories and having had time to think it out and digest it, makes me more accepting of unconventional relationships. And respect the fact that no third person can really know what makes a relationship between two people tick.
... Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
— William Shakespeare