Let's be clear.

There might be people who can remember every nuance and every aspect and every angle of someone they've loved deeply. Remember just how their face looked in every different light. Remember every moment of every kiss, and the exact intensity of every exclamation of pleasure.

Sure, there might be such people. It's just that they would have an eidetic memory.

For us normal folks, any chances of the above happening would be equal to the odds of finding green polka-dotted ice-monsters in the seas of Neptune.

To me, anybody who says something like the words in the first para isn't thinking or talking about how love is -they're on about what they think love should be like.

They've bought into this ridiculous idealised version which has been propagated throughout history by too many overdramatic novels, and was probably originally thought up by some idiot who spent too much time thinking about love than actually being involved in it. Although I'm not quite convinced it wasn't thought up by someone who was continually rejected and maliciously created this illusory height of emotion in order to torment all future generations, driving them crazy in trying to achieve it, and then condemning them to endless bouts of doubt and conflict when they (inevitably) couldn't.

And we all fall for it. We all think that this is how it should be, that our every moment of being with the person we have chosen to be with should be suffused with this insane kaleidoscope of constantly replayed slow-motion videos of the other - taken from seventeen different angles, of course. We all think that if, after a few months, we cannot exactly remember what they wearing when they were doing that with us, but we can remember what that that was (and how good it felt), then we've somehow failed at the altar of the oh-so-perfect Love. That if we end up being with that person, and living with them, then even twenty years later we should be able to wake up one morning and look at them while they sleep and remember all those other mornings of years past when we did the same, and be able to recollect just how they looked then as well.

What utter bollocks.

That is passion, not love. The remember-every-touch thing is possible - but only for dalliances that last such a small time that you have no choice but to remember all of it, simply because there's so little of it to remember, and you don't want to think there wasn't enough of it, because then it would mean that it wasn't serious enough or real enough, and that all your energy and emotion was spent in some charade, and you don't want to think that now, do you.

That's passion. A little hot-water spring hidden mid-way up a little hill, whose periphery you walk around in a few hundred paces, and which will remain the same for decades to come, and which you can revisit again and again and find no change.

But love....now, love is like a river that you're on. It's always there, and (if you remember the old riddle, you know what's coming) it's never the same. It may start off boisterously, as a body-numbing waterfall in some remote hilly region which it will may never revisit, only to slither down sharp rocks and meander across vast plains, sometimes taking a detour, sometimes spawning little streams and rivulets and other little images of itself that explore and showcase other facets of the whole, before it ends up in the sea (which last can be what you take it to be...life, death, the entirety of your emotions...we're flexible here, people).

It's there, but it's different all the way through.

Love, or true love, or being in love, or whatever other fancy name you want to give it, is not about being able to remember what a person looked like - it's about being with someone till you forget what they look like.

Till they're not just a face and some curves and lines and an interesting birthmark, but till they're just a presence around you. Not just another presence, mind you, not the oh-yes-my-couch-has-a-presence-and-are-you-equating-love-with-that-you-overthinking-idiot types.

No, the presence of a loved one is the type that you're aware of even though you can't see them. The type whose silences convey the exact expression on their face and in their body language, across barriers that hide their physical presence. The type who you can talk to and laugh with while watching TV, even though they're not there (and yes, even while you're missing them terribly because they're not there. (what? Nobody said it couldn't be paradoxical)).

The type which somewhere down the line they become the small things - a smile, and the crinkling around the eyes when the face they're on starts laughing, and the tilt to their head when they're telling you off, and the little thing they do with the fingers when they're reading something important.

The type who you look at after twenty years, and while doing so, get this surreal feeling that you've not really seen them properly, and realise there's still more to them than you thought, and there's still more to discover. Even after all these years.

Passion may be a water-bed, but love is a comfortable pillow.

And you don't need to know how soft/firm it used to be if it still fits the curve of your neck just right - and if you realise it always has.

So do yourself a favour. And stop with the drama.

Stop driving yourself crazy about not remembering things about the person you're with, but remembering stuff about those others who you might briefly had a fling with in the past. Stop with the guilt about whether you really love the person just because you don't happen to think of them when you're with other friends, or watching a film, or listening to your favourite music.

And more importantly, stop spreading the damn myth!

Unless, of course, you've been continually rejected and want to torment all future generations, driving them crazy in trying....


km said...

The Doors wrote a song called "I can't see your face in my mind", which sort of says the same thing.

But here's the flip-side to your argument: while it is not always possible to carry around a HDTV image of someone but the brain has a clever way of storing such data and brings it up most unexpectedly and often with startling fidelity.

??! said...

Oh yes, undoubtedly. Occasional reminiscences are part of the whole thing, but having them all time round? How would we ever think of anything else?

Spark said...

loved this piece....so much so that decided to comment again!!!!

Happy Diwali......

km said...

but having them all time round? How would we ever think of anything else?

The tyranny of "romantic" love. Might as well get used to it :)

Anonymous said...

but its the same thing!!!!

??! said...

You mean you've been reading all this time and NOT commenting? Hurts like broken bottles.

Welcome back.

What silliness.

If you say so....although I don't.

unpredictable said...

loveit loveit loveit. u write so ... so melodiously... with a tune that makes me want to sing along ... lovely!

??! said...

Now, now, what's with the advanced blush-inducing tactics?

But thank you.

A Muser said...

You hit the nail on the head.

Shefaly said...


"..but love is a comfortable pillow."

Every once in a while, preferably every morning while making the bed, thump it to readjust the goose-down so it keeps fitting nicely under the nape. I think. ;-)