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True romance

  • Published at 07:30 pm February 13th, 2018
  • Last updated at 10:31 pm July 2nd, 2018
True romance

It’s hard to write on love.

Not only because of just how amorphous it is as a concept and fleeting as a feeling, but it’s hard to talk about it in general without coming off as a bitter sexual failure, especially in times when “love” can be found through a few lines of code, stable data servers, and an aggressive marketing push targeting the 25-32 demographic.

Indeed, digitization has crept up even in the most sacred of human realms, but perhaps that’s just progress in motion … oh, and capitalism.

Now that we have the obligatory cliché cynicism out of the way, I feel compelled to ask: Exactly why do we put up with falling in love? 

She loves me

I think it would be a fair assumption to make in believing that almost all of us have developed some kind of affectionate feeling towards another human being at some point of our lives -- be it the co-worker working down a cubicle or two who you’ve been sneaking glances at from time to time, a close friend that you’ve spent an hour too many with after classes, or even someone you’ve laid eyes on for the first time in your life.

No curtain call, no overture -- love forever begins in medias res.

It’s a feeling that goes against any sense of rationality and good judgement, containing the possibility for both chaos and creation. I suppose one way of trying to explain why we fall in love is to see it from an evolutionary angle. It’s not exactly an original thought that “what people call ‘love’ is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed,” but a different interpretation could lie in the evolutionary basis of hope.

After all, hope is what keeps us alive, pushes us to perpetuate as a species. And, being creatures capable of harbouring hopes, and its less-pretty cousin “expectations,” setting off on the (arguably futile) quest for fulfillment is only a hop and a skip away. Our innate desire for fulfillment is perhaps the core reason behind why the entire human race has yet to put a bullet in its collective temple. But that’s hardly an explanation for why we keep getting suckered into feeling such intense feelings for specific people.

She loves me not

I think it would be an equally fair assumption to make in believing that almost all of us have had those exact same feelings when we get torn apart, limb by metaphorical limb. Love has an opportunity cost, after all, and it is called “heartbreak.”

As a child, I used to wonder what that term meant exactly -- a heart literally breaking was a physical impossibility, that much was certain, but maybe it’s something that breaks inside of you? Indeed, as an adult, I can now say for certain that that is exactly what happens. Or, at least, that’s what it “feels” like. And it’s a gradual process.

Every stinging rejection, every painful breakup, and that awful middle ground they share -- the slow, numbing death of something good before it had even started -- chips away at your insides. You cocoon yourself in thick, insulating self-love to try and ease the pain, but the thoughts still linger in the back of your mind: “If only ...”

And, yet, we keep falling for the same old tricks, if a bit more hardened, but none the wiser.

Stepping into my late 20s, it is increasingly becoming evident to me that the tune of romance and love is at its truest when it sounds less “When I’m Sixty-Four” and more “Paper Thin Hotel.” It all involves feelings, after all. And, feelings, as much as it pains me to admit, can never be actively shared, no matter how many times you kiss each other goodnight. 

Then, why do we still bother? How does it make any sense to splurge on profane displays of excess that is the South Asian wedding, especially given the fragile nature of human relationships? What is the point of isolating one day out of the entire year in celebration of love between two (or more) people? Who are we fooling, if not ourselves?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, but perhaps we can find solace in one nugget of certainty: Love is inevitable and it is out of our control. And that in itself is something worth celebrating.

Rubaiyat Kabir is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. He can be followed on Twitter @moreanik.