Sunday, May 15, 2022

Post-Valentine’s Day Peregrinations

The week after Valentine’s Day is very revealing. We see it in all those empty heart-shaped confectionery boxes looking bereft without the decadent candy that has disappeared down overly indulged gullets. In deflated balloons and pesticide-drenched, dried-out, long-stemmed red roses that lie outside overflowing trash cans, because this is India.

Those cutesy pics and reels of couples on Instagram who are enjoying candlelit dinners, hugging oversized and overpriced teddy bears, slow-dancing or opening gifts with extra-wide smiles to overcompensate for the fact that they are not feeling as elated as they are supposed to feel. 

 Most of all, there is a pervasive sense of discontent as couples who saw a little too much of each other during the pandemic contemplate the joys of being single again and single people who have been roundly reproved by the spiteful for not having a significant other to celebrate a commercial holiday that has cashed in on outdated notions of courtly love, wish they were part of a loved-up couple. 

 Like the mythical Ouroboros, which means ‘tail-devourer’ in Greek and is represented by a tail-swallowing snake or dragon, it is a never-ending conundrum. Most of us are in love with the idea of being in love rather than what it actually entails to be in a relationship, even on the off chance that it is a loving and fulfilling one. 

 Because deep down, we know that even the grandest of passions, at best, serves as a backdrop against which the humdrum monotony of existence plays out at snail’s pace even in a world with its increasingly fast and furious rhythms, if it has not crashed and burnt out already. Love is irksome because it is demanding, takes up more time and effort than is feasible and dies anyway.

 Even so, even the most curmudgeonly and cynical amongst us can seldom resist the irresistible allure of amour and the magic it promises. Everywhere we are confronted with the smoking ruins of curdled romances and the sheer devastation wrought by desire turned to dust. Infinite stories, their never-ending permutations notwithstanding tell us that tragedy is the only outcome we can expect in a love story and we know it is true because it feels like we experienced these stories ourselves even if it was only in a dream and that they are merely echoes of worse ones we have lived through. 

 And yet, we need to believe in not just the highly improbable but even the impossible possibility of a love story that will somehow bypass the near-certainty of a squalid ending and remain as splendid as it was in the beginning. Ultimately, we are all fools in love or hoping to be that fool in love, because we will always choose disaster over dreariness. 

 This article originally appeared in The New Indian Express

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