On People Who Gifted Me Books
Only four persons gifted me books I love and thus brought upon them the misfortune of being gushed over for life by yours truly.
|Ruskin Bond's autograph|
|Reading it now|
There is Shakeel, a friend from high school who writes like a dream. He is living a life I covet and admire; writing and getting paid for it. Someday I hope to read a book written by him. Our mutual friend, Snata, is an amazing writer too and I’m simply happy to know this talented duo. I received a book from him today; and it was so unexpected and it made me so happy. Shakeel, prepare to be gushed over for life that would embarrass you enough to hide behind doors and duck under tables whenever you see me. He gifted me The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi.
|Heart-felt essays and poems|
I write about love, but I’m not a lover. I read about love, but I don’t live it. I see love, but I am a mere observer. Even when I was in love, when I was a lover, when I thought I was loved, it was emptiness and detachment wrapped in a thin crust of passion, that was a ghost of some earlier self, and a dollop of forced interest. This detachment and ambiguity of feelings scared me and I tried to be involved; I became neurotic about it and felt re-assured when I experienced symptoms of romantic jealousy or missed someone, which gave a false sense of being in love, or capable of being in love. I am often swept off my feet, but never by a person; it’s always a singular attribute: a warm smile, owning a common set of books, very often it’s the eyes, or kindness, sharp wit, ambition, intelligence, a fancy pair of shoes, arrogance, clean nails, someone who dines with family, writes poems, well-travelled, chivalry works every time too, or sometimes it’s just a mix of serendipity and hormones.
I can’t define love anymore. I was naive once, not so long ago, in a time when everything seemed possible and there were no missing puzzle pieces. I knew it once, this love, without having to say it in words and I poured it copiously in letters and gestures. But one day it slapped me out of my reverie. Singular attributes continued to lodge in my heart instead of a whole person. Now that time has lifted the veil off the pretenses I had forced myself to believe, I wonder why I ever considered it to be love. The conversations bored me, the laughter was hollow and I longed to be alone and with a book instead. But instead I talked for hours, laughed out loud, was a finicky and clingy lover, as if the love was real! I planned strategies, I made lists of pros and cons, I observed the duel of my mind and heart, and I was scared of acknowledging that it was doomed from the start or that I was passing off a fleeting attraction as love or worse, that I was incapable of love anymore. At twenty three! I was scared of letting go lest I don't meet anyone before I turned thirty, or forty, or fifty.Knights on white horses were a cliché even when I was just ten. The concept of 'casual dating' and testing the waters is lost on me too. So I settled for the first decent person who confessed his love for me. Sad, I know.
My friends call me the ‘most romantic person ever’ and I squirm in discomfiture. I worship romance. I love to love. I crave intimacy. But on actual confrontation with it, I panic and withdraw into a shell. It baffles me. Why do I get attracted to men who I know for sure will break my heart? Why am I incapable of living the romance that exudes from every single fiber of my heart? Have you watched the scene in Annie Hall when Woody Allen is making love to Diane Keaton and she just lies there in bed, inert and passive, and her soul has an ‘out-of-body’ experience and walks around the room, lights up a smoke and reads a book? That’s exactly how I feel when I convince myself that I’m in love!
I have thought about it and have come up with few half-baked theories:
a) I have set certain standards for the man I want to fall in love with and so far I haven't met anyone who had lived up to them. Practicality convinces me that the standards are high, and I should settle even when just a quarter of my expectations are met. I did so; but deep down I knew it wasn’t what I was looking for and it would only damage me; so I clammed up, emotionally and even physically. One called me prude; the other thought I was sexless. But I tell myself it’s just about not meeting the right person.
b) I can’t believe that anyone can love me. I have my own set of insecurities which leads me to wonder why would a person decide to devote his time and love on me when they could do so for the millions of other girls who are prettier, can speak well, can make them laugh, can walk on high heels, have lustrous hair, independent and knows how to dance. Why would anyone love me? And this question leads on to another disturbing query, ‘Do I love myself?’ Over the years I have started liking ‘me’, even though I am not bursting with love for myself. If loving self is tough, it becomes tougher to believe that one is worthy of love. Cynicism sets in. Sometimes it takes deep roots. It’s tough to see ourselves through a lover’s eyes, which in my mind is always scanning for flaws! ‘You had been bad relationships. Once you know love, all your cynicism will go out of the window’, my friends tell me. I give them a wry smile and my eyes mock their optimism, but my heart thumps with hope.
c) I worry about the word 'forever'. Intolerance is rampant. Who has time for love? Or the patience to make things work. People jump from bed to bed, memories fade, and all that remains of what started as a promise of growing old together is a tattered Hallmark card. You start cautiously; you exchange likes and dislikes, you move on to dreams and hopes, then comes the stories of childhood and secrets you don’t tell your friends. You remember anniversaries of first date and first stirrings of love, and get wooed by flowers and dizzy kisses. Then one day when you least expect it (or expected and dreaded since always), everything vanishes. And you are left wondering why you invested so much time and effort on the relationship. It disturbs you that your declarations of affection and confessions of your innermost thoughts are in the mind of a man forever lost in the crowd. You despair that you are back to square one; you have to lay a foundation again, and build block by block another relationship. Just the thought of the effort tires you. So you remain passive.
d) I am scared of infidelity. I have seen it at close quarters in people around me. I question the existence of monogamy. And it disturbs me that I have reached a stage when I feel fidelity is a blessing. I try to be nonchalant about the end of a relationship and feel liberated from a worse fate in the future. But lurking in the subconscious is a cautiousness that’s overwhelming and sometimes damaging, nipping opportunities in the bud.
e) I am selfish. I want it all. The wooing, the proclamations of love, the romance, the right amount of possessiveness, the loyalty, the opposites that attract, the similarities that bind, the conversations that are endless and effortless (Before Sunrise hangover), the adequate space, public displays of affection (not bordering on perversion), the flavor of newness, the comfort of familiarity, the intimacy of knowing looks unknown to the rest of the world, the respect, the honesty, the book-lover, the laughter, distinctively ‘I’ yet ‘We’, a team of two in this world or against this world, growing together in life (not in chronological sense), and a disarming smile is always appreciated. And yes, soulful eyes. Since re-incarnation is not an established fact and I’ve just one life to live, why compromise? So, I wait.
A cynicism has seeped into my attitude towards love that I largely attribute to certain bitter experiences. But in the past week I watched three movies, three unusual love stories that have dusted off some of the cynic crust layering my heart.
I’ve a filmi heart!