How many of us really know what love feels like? 


‘Are you sure you’re okay?’

I asked my best friend, one last time before she stepped out of the cab.

‘I will be.’

Payel picked up her office bag and slowly got out. After she shut the door, the cab took off. I looked back at her through the window to see her walking up to her office building. She looked fine.

No one would really be able to tell that she spent last night drinking and crying horribly after she received a call from her boyfriend of 7 years. He’s her ex-boyfriend now.

Payel is my childhood friend and she has been like a sister to me since high school. We have always been super close to each other, sharing way too much with each other than we probably should. I have seen her as a handful of guys paraded in and out of her life. She had always been a strong yet reckless person who loved playing with fire. She knew herself very well and was always so frank about herself, it often intimated people, and I loved that about her.

This also attracted the attention of Ritesh, and soon they became the one popular couple in college, who made everyone jealous. I had been dating guys here and there too, but I never had that amazing chemistry and friendship that Ritesh and Payel shared. Everyone knew they were definitely going to get married and have lots of kids. There was not a single person who knew them and didn’t wish them well.

They were the reason I believed in a true love. They were the only ones who made me feel like there is a soulmate for every single person out there. You should consider yourself very lucky if you ever come across yours in this lifetime. I believed Payel and Ritesh were the luckiest among all the people who ever found their soul mates. But I couldn’t say the same anymore.

I have seen them together for so long that it was hard for me to accept the conversation they both had over the phone last night. You might think that this was probably some setback and they would make up soon and everything would go back to normal. But I was there with Payel, hearing her shouting and sobbing, and watching all my hopes for them fall apart. I can’t even imagine what Payel must have been going through at that point of time.

I had never seen her break down like this before. I could almost hear her heart breaking by the way she was talking to him. It was so hard for me to see her like that. I could understand that that one phone conversation is going to completely change her life as she knows it. And I hated that.

I had made a point to have a word with Ritesh about this. He was also a very good friend and even though Payel had reassured many times that there was no way to reverse this, I still wanted to hear it from him too. I wanted some benefit of doubt.

I kept thinking over and over again – is this what true love looks like? Can it really break people like this? All the famous romantic poets who wrote about love and their beloved, are those really true? Does something like an immortal love really exist? I hardly believed in what I read in literature, but I had seen a beautiful love story unfold in front of my eyes. I didn’t need old poets to tell me what true love looks like. But now, I wasn’t so sure anymore.

All these thoughts kept bouncing around in my head as the cab eventually reached the mall nearest to my house. After paying the driver, I walked in to buy some more stock of Payel’s favourite food and drink – ice cream and wine. Well, they were my favourite too.

I looked around to find the ones Payel absolutely loved and made sure I got lots and lots of those. Red wine and black current ice cream are basically her life support and I want to make sure she has enough of them whenever she needs them.

I decided to walk back home from there because my house was pretty close.

On my way home, I couldn’t help but think how I’ll never see Payel and Ritesh together again. They had started to reach a point in their lives where their dreams of a future together were finally coming true. Everything was going absolutely fine, till last night. I was feeling very down thinking about everything.

It was when I realised that I need to start walking faster when I noticed something on the side of the lane that made me stop.

I knew there were many street dogs around in this locality but I’ve never seen so many of them gather at one place like this. I saw a middle aged lady standing in front of the gate of her building and calling the dogs. The group of dogs was getting bigger and bigger and then I saw another middle aged man walking out. He came and stood beside the lady with two big bowls of rice. The excitement of the dogs were clear from the way they all started wagging their tails.

I walked closer to the scene and saw that the bowls had rice and some chicken in them. As the man was putting down the two bowls, the lady went back in and came out balancing four more bowls. Some of the dogs yelped in happiness and got busy eating. There were different bowls for the different dogs and they seemed to know very well which was for them.

The couple looked like proud happy parents of all these dogs. They hugged them and patted them as they were eating. Some of the dogs came to lick their faces in between their meals. The parents looked down on the dogs as they enjoyed their meals. They even scolded the one or two naughty ones who were trying to pick from the other dog’s bowl.

The couple sat down on the ground among the dogs and peacefully watched them eat, patting them here and there. The dogs loved their company and started to playfully run around them after their meals were over. The man had some balls in the pockets of the pants he was wearing and he gave it to the dogs to play with them.

I realised there were two more guys standing near me looking at the same scene and smiling to themselves. I was smiling too. Seeing those playful happy dogs with this lovely couple – it was so beautiful and warm.

After looking at them for a while, I decided that my ice cream was on the verge of melting, so I had to run home.

The scene didn’t look like it was happening for the first time, it looked like a daily thing. I don’t usually use that lane at this time of the day, otherwise I would’ve definitely noticed them before. And I am so glad I did today. It really warmed me up after spending the night with Payel like that.

It also got me thinking about this strange concept of love.

All these years of seeing two people being hopelessly in love and being convinced that this is what true love looks like. And after last night, I am not sure of anything anymore. They loved each other for so long, I’ve seen it! How could something so bad exist that break up two people so sourly?

But now I see these dogs and this couple. They’re like such a sweet family, it’s so beautiful. It was so nice to see this couple taking in and looking after all these dogs that most people neglect and don’t care about.  Not only just caring about them, but treating them like their own children, talking to them and playing with them. And the way the dogs were playing with them, if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

We all pretend to know a lot about love. Poets and famous literary figures have written so many things about it. But how many of us know what true love really feels like?