Valentine’s Day has come and gone and thankfully it has been a peaceful one – without any histrionics in the press and without upsetting any fundamentalists. While I myself am pretty indifferent to Valentine’s Day and acknowledge that everyone has a right to do what he wants, I sometimes feel that young people don’t take their parents’ feelings into consideration when they “fall in love” and often fall in love with someone totally unsuitable or unexpected.
While I am willing to believe that love is an inexplicable feeling that has physiological and hormonal stimuli and can’t, therefore, be helped, I also feel that there is something like the mind that can control our feelings.
Secret love is sweeter still
Many times when I am driving down Marine Drive – that iconic, breathtaking sea-hugging road of Mumbai, at almost at any time of day, almost always, whether it is hot, blazing sunshine, pouring buckets or even darkly silent in the night, I find at least one couple huddled on the parapet either camouflaged behind an umbrella or flagrantly expressing their love for one another, mindless to the world and what it thinks of them.
While I am not prudish, I often wonder if these children or people have told their parents about the new interest in their lives. How many of them have left home telling their parents that they have gone to college or to meet a friend only to spend hours by this or other lovers’ paradise that one can find in this city for a clandestine meeting? And would this meeting of hearts be as sweet if it wasn’t forbidden or secret?
Somehow, secrecy and mystery add to the romanticism of being in love. Love stories are all the more poignant when there are secret kisses or love notes exchanged stealthily with doomed love stories of star crossed lovers holding a special appeal for the young, wrought as they are in their angst of self discovery. Encouraged and cheered on by their peers into rebellion and self assertion, they often feel that they are entitled to fall in love and that the whole world is conspiring against them.
There will be many among you who will remember what it was like to sob while watching “Love Story,” the classic ‘70’s story that had all of us dying to condemn our parents with Oliver’s line to his repentant father “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” How we all sobbed with Oliver when he had to bid farewell to the dying Jenny, the love of his life. How we hated his domineering, class conscious father and how we all secretly wished we could be Jenny, dying young and leaving a mourning lover pining for you the rest of his life.
The romance of being in love is often more overpowering than actually being in love and it is especially among the young and reckless that this feeling of overpowering passion (could it be lust?) is mistaken for true love. While our immature hearts bled for all star crossed lovers, we as 16 year olds sniggered when our English Professor, read out the dulcet words of Romeo and Juliet in her harsh and throaty voice that barely disguised her own disgust for the famous love story. What did this old spinster know of love we thought, as we commiserated with the teenaged lovers and pitied her for her old fashioned, judgmental ways.
Such is the power of love – an emotion that completely replaces sense with sensation that clouds your judgement and rationality.
Failing to recognize parental right to disappointment
Now older and much, much wiser, I realize how love does almost always mean having to say you’re sorry because very rarely does your idea of love or the person you are in love with correspond with that of your parents’ . People who’ve gone down that road will understand the anguish that love can bring to a family.
If the person you fall in love with is compatible with what your parents had bargained for you, that’s fine but if it means coming to terms with something they hadn’t bargained for , it does become a trying period, a time of great adjustment and sorrow to both the young and the old. And today with more and more children breaking free from the confines of their homes, going out into the world to study and seek their fortunes, chances are that they will choose their own life partners making ‘Love Marriage’ all the more the norm rather than the exception.
Sadly, children often fail to understand that disapproval of the choice of partner doesn’t often reflect the parents’ narrow-mindedness or regressiveness but merely reflects their disappointment that their child has failed to live up to their expectations. Sometimes the choice of partner comes under parental disapproval because of social inequities, class differences and even cultural or religious differences.
And if the children expect their parents to respect their choice of life partner, surely the parents have the right to feel disappointed, angry even, at this independent choice. So while I do not expect children to not fall in love, I would urge them to fall in love with the right person, a person who would be easily acceptable to the family for only then will love mean never having to say you’re sorry.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through babyhood, toddler hood, adolescence and adulthood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share her experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grand-motherhood.