Thursday, December 15, 2011


Love doesn’t look like a bright red heart at all these days. It has just gone pear shaped, and all green. No one believes in it anymore.

Actually that might be little too harsh. What I meant was that no one seems to believe in eternal love anymore. All around me, and just as much around you I’m sure, couples who seemed to be forever in love are falling out and drifting apart, away from each other. It needn’t necessarily end in legal separation, but when you meet them, you can tell that the relationship has reached the end of its tether for the staleness begins to show. Why does that happen? Will it happen to you? Will it happen to me?

Well, I hope not and I’m not going to tempt fate by claiming to know how to make every four letter word work better for you just because I got lucky. No sir, and no ma’am, I’m a seeker, just as much as you are… But I will tell you a couple of stories about some friends of mine and maybe we both could learn some lessons on love, enduring and everlasting love as it was once meant to be…

So here’s the first one…

Sahil and Surbhi were batchmates of mine. Surbhi was the queen bee. Every drone worth his droning would be batting his hopeful wings, hoping to catch her eye. The only one who wouldn’t was Sahil. Surbhi was good at games, remembering names, extending a hand, playing with the band and all those other good things that rhyme. Sahil on the other hand was a shameless academic genius. And absurdly good-looking too. Class toppers are supposed to be nerdy, pencil-necked geeks. He wasn’t. He was more like Johnny Depp in contact lenses and a suit. We all hated him for all that, just as much as we loved Surbhi for all that. Then they got lumped together for some of the presentations. Surbhi was a brilliant speaker and a pretty good student herself and together they lit up every presentation they made. For all his ‘attitude’, Sahil was all jelly inside and Surbhi’s warm eyes and sweet smile had him eating popcorn out of her hands at the movies, and before you knew it he was eating sweets out of her hand at their wedding. Yes, they got married as soon as they could and this was a marriage that was made in heaven. Sahil doted on her and Surbhi was in awe of her husband. He was smart and rising rapidly up the corporate ladder, while Surbhi experimented with her career choices and eventually chose to become a dancer. She taught salsa at a popular dance school and spent her weekends teaching dance to handicapped kids and slum children. Sahil would brag about his wife’s good kind heart to his friends but when she would try and talk to him about her work, she couldn’t quite get through.

Sahil cared, and he wanted her to know that. Even though he wouldn’t always say it, he knew she would understand, that even though he was busy playing golf after work with his bosses, she knew he was proud of her.

Husbands, admit it. Within a few years, months and at times weeks of getting married, our wives lose us to the television, or golf, or the quest for the next big car and somehow our relationships aren’t the same ever again. It’s almost like we court obsessively till we tie the knot and then our passions go off on a vacation, only to return like an iron-curtain defector who returns occasionally for fleeting visits and is treated like a rare celebrity.

And wives, it’s not like we need less of your love just because you have a kitchen, a kid and a career that leaves you drained. But more of that later…

As time rolled by, Surbhi and Sahil got drawn into their parallel worlds a little more every day. Some of their friends could see that although they went back to the same house, they weren’t really at home with each other. Their worlds had grown too far apart. Their conversations were functional with none of that youthful chatter about dreams and each other anymore. Conversations were difficult without an event to hang on to. If you were to ask them if they had a problem, they would frown at you and honestly wonder if you had lost your bearings, for to them, life was meant to be this way. If there was a vacuum, they didn’t see it, until…

Wait! Surbhi and Sahil can wait, I need to tell you about Vishnu and Nida before we finish... In the advertising agency where they worked, Vishnu was the charismatic creative head and Nida was the awe-struck starry-eyed trainee. Flamboyant and forceful, Vishnu happened to be a good friend and a very popular, if at times moody boss. Nida was his talented and elegant protégé. In her eyes, Vishnu could do no wrong. She used to hate smokers and yet she found Vishnu seductive when he smoked. Vishnu could get rather loud and boisterous at times but Nida felt he was merely being passionate about his ideas.

And Nida’s sparkling effervescence didn’t go unnoticed. Vishnu liked her work. And he liked her energy and her chic and stylish presence. They went out a few times, “to discuss work”, and then Vishnu started dropping her home. Vishnu didn’t talk much about her but Nida seemed rather smitten. One fine day, they announced they wanted to get married. We weren’t surprised but their parents were. They came from very different families and faiths. This wasn’t going to be easy. Vishnu didn’t have much trouble really, but Nida had to run through walls of fire to convince her people that she really wanted to marry this man. At one point of time, she was ready to give up her ties with her family and the life she knew, just to be with this man. And Vishnu stood by her through it all. Her family blinked first and soon they were married, happily ever after, and so we thought.

Three years later, Nida packed her bags and went back home. She couldn’t bear the thought of spending another day with the man she once worshipped. Her god had fallen off the altar, his halo smashed to sharp edged shards that snagged her dreams and left them bleeding.

The truth is that Vishnu was still the brilliantly creative professional he had always been at work. He hadn’t conned her or lied to her. And neither did she accuse him of that. And yet, Nida, in her own words, “was sick of her marriage”.

I would love to tell you more about the hows and whys of love and why it got this way, but as you can see, we’ve run out of word count, so hang in there and watch this space next week. And while you’re at it, I recommend you switch off that television, go up to your partner and talk about their dreams. If you haven’t done this in a while, you just might end up meeting a nice new stranger. Good luck!


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