Love is intoxicating, perplexing, maddening. And the sound of heartbreak? It crosses all decibels without actually deafening us. In sunshine we see rain. In laughter we feel pain. In glee we sense gloom. Pillows become wet. Showers become longer. Nights turn out to be endless. All this for what? A four letter word that is more enjoyed when felt than said.
Manan was the youngest member of the Sethi family. Everyone always had extra love to shower on him. Every day before going to school, he sat and had chaii and biscuit with his grandma and a treat would always be handed over to him before boarding the bus by grandpa.
Manan in his school was given an assignment to write about what love is to him and who loves him the most. Now for a boy of eight, love would definitely be getting remote control cars on birthdays from dad, being taken out to Fun city to play video games on alternate weekends and being rewarded with caramel and cheese popcorn and nachos with mayonnaise dip in movie halls while watching animated Disney movies. But Manan wanted to know if there was something more to it and hence he set out on his quest to find out what great philosophers couldn’t unearth accurately.
“Sneha, you are my best friend. Tell me what love is to you? Tell me do you love me?” Asked Manan while opening his lunch box which had nutella sandwiches in it.
“Of course I love you Manan. You are my only friend here. For me, love is when my mommy ties my two ponytails in the morning and feeds me breakfast with her hands. It is when I am walking with dad holding his hand and he always keeps me on the inner side of the road, away from the traffic. Love is when I call the teacher whenever those big guys come to bully you.” Said Sneha innocently, chewing on the dosa her mom had made.
Manan got down at the bus stop and reached out to hug his grandpa. While walking towards home, he asked, “Grandpa what is love to you? And do you love me? Please tell me.” His grandpa glanced at the sky and said, “Oh! I definitely do my son. I love you the most. When an old couple, on their 50th anniversary, walk along the beach side while holding onto each other’s hands with broad smiles on their wrinkled faces, we call that love. And of course, when I bring Dairy Milk for you and you go around the house feeding everyone a cube with your own little hands.”
Manan changed his clothes and waited for his sister to return from college. After she came, he knocked on her door and questioned,” Didi, tell me who loves me the most and what does love mean for you?” His sister smiled at him and after making him comfortable on the purple bean bag said, “When two teenagers meet after curfew at dark, in a secluded area and embrace each other tightly, we term that as love. And also when I spend my pocket money on buying the new robot that you want instead of shopping for myself! Doesn’t this already prove that I am the one who loves you the most little brother?”
Manan then went to his grandma’s room and waited for her to complete telling her beads before calling out to her. He then asked her, “Grandma please tell me what love is to you and also, who loves me the most in this house. I really want to know.” His grandma put aside her beads and with a hand swiftly running on his head said,” Love, my child is a very small word but holds a meaning so deep which is enough for the tallest of them all to drown in it too. Love holds different meanings at different stages of life.
For you, love might be when dad comes early to take a seat in the front row of your school auditorium on your annual day. For your sister, love must be when her dad pays the high fees to fund her private college education.
But real love, my son is being able to love something or someone even more than one’s own self before even seeing or eyeing it. Just like your mother did.
Everyone knew that her second pregnancy had complications and do you know what her last words were? She told us to choose you if ever the doctors gave an option of saving one out of the mother or the child. That is why everyone loves you a little more because they’ve been granted with you after paying a huge penalty for it and they see your mother in you. You have your mother’s innocence in your eyes and her tenderness in your heart. We always say that no love is greater than a mother’s love but the love your mother showcased; my darling was extraordinary and selfless. Love is sacrifice. Love is compromise. Until and unless you aren’t ready to do these for anyone, you aren’t actually in love with them.”
Manan had gotten the answer he was looking for and there was no need to go and ask someone else.