Love, an enigma that has boggled several great minds, brought warriors down to their knees, and in the most open, digital age of the 21st century, still manages to leave us tongue-tied. So much so that we have dedicated an entire month to celebrate this feeling. Of all the human emotions that cloud your judgement and impair our vision, love has to be the number one on the list: devouring every morsel of your living self into its infinite abyss of pain filled pleasure. Love is unquenchable like that because it exists even when it is not received or accepted. 

Time has evolved, and our definition of love evolved along with it. But I was still in the dark about my understanding of what love is.  I decided to talk to actual people to understand love first hand, live vicariously through people who have experienced it. What’s the new definition on the streets for this devilish perpetrator of man’s foolishness, I asked my 6-year-old nephew. He replied, “it’s that feeling you have with a girl or a boy when you want to marry them. Like what I have with Jeena.” Seems simple enough doesn't it, stick with me on my journey and let's unravel this together.

I remember meeting this couple at the Dubai International Airport, on my way back home after a holiday. They complemented each other so well, it was very cute to watch. When we got to talking, I learned that they met each other at a ‘pen pal club’, in 1959. They kept exchanging letters for about three months until they finally met. She recollected, “I had no idea that signing up with the club would change my life. Within a week of having registered, letters started pouring in, but this one letter from Sweden caught my eye. I remember writing back only to him, hehe. 7 months later, we exchanged rings and promised to love each other until our last breaths. Nobody has been able to stop us ever since.”

Back to what my 6-year-old nephew had said. Jeena, his female friend whom he likes to call his ‘girlfriend’ had promised to make a presence at his birthday party last year, but didn’t. This little one wept his eyes out and did not step out for a whole week after that. They reunited later, that’s a different story, but that’s the thing. Kids pick things up from their parents, and relationships are no exception. And this little boy had learned from his parents’ relationship that love is always being there for each other, especially on their special days! Is he to blame?

What my grandparents had was something beyond companionship and love, only if I had a word to describe that. My grandmother was a boss lady and everybody in the family respected her, and my grandfather was the soft one. They would celebrate every happy occasion together, even if it just meant having a meal. Together. They never spoke to each other much, but that’s the catch right there,? love is always about the unspoken words.

“Gone are those days when I used to walk all the way to a telephone booth just to hear her voice. Young women and men today will never understand the thrills,” said a 34-year-old when I asked him about his first love. Relationships definitely have evolved over the years. “When I knew I liked her, I asked her to marry me. But these days when you like someone, your friends bombard you with questions. Do you ‘like them like that’ or ‘like like’ them? Do you want to take things slow and see where it goes or commit to them? Do you see a future with them? Show me your texts with them, let me analyze their character from the way they text. Do you want this to be casual or something serious?”

Most definitely, we could have done with a proper definition of love or a step-by-step tutorial on how to deal with it, but maybe that’s the beauty of love. Each person perceives and feels love in different ways.

What I’ve observed and seen people agree to, in conversations, something that this generation primarily lacks, is the ability to take things lightly. It’s high time we go back to appreciating love and taking it at face value; to take a step back, breathe, feel the breeze, and take it all in. Perhaps, that’s the “prototype” after all! Love.