Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fools Die in Love

By Adnan Quadri

It’s raining in Dhaka and at the bus stoppage, hundreds of travellers pour down the sidewalk. When the sweet woman seated by herself in the shade looks up and sees a man looking at her, she sends him a hard, wary glance that says, “Step forward if you’re who I think you are; otherwise get lost.”

“Burkah, I presume?” I ask. Burkah stands up and extends a small hand towards me. She’s a 20-year-old dressed neatly and fashionably. Her manner is courteous while at the same time guarded as we head for the bus to Dhanmondi where she lives. She is a former schoolmate whom I met after a long time. She was also the object of a huge crush. This coincidental encounter was the first time I met her since the school years.

Talking about love brings to mind a lot of things. I have determined that we all tend to behave in a knee-jerk fashion when we’re in the presence of an attractive member of the opposite sex. Put an eligible man and woman within three meters of each other and they’ll often launch into some courtship behaviour, a behaviour that evolved long ago and is often comical to watch. Let me narrow it down and look at different dimensions of romantic love.

Infatuation is characterized by persistent “intrusive thinking” about the loved one. People who are infatuated testify that they’re thinking about their love at least 90 per cent of the time, as stated in a survey report. It’s no wonder that people in love feel so messed up. Though lovers are literally intoxicated by romance, the feeling fades. I have my own theories to explain this phenomenon. It’s possible the brain’s nerve endings become habituated to high levels of natural stimulants or the levels of chemical begin to drop.

Infatuation is a free ride, an overwhelming physiological and psychological experience that can swamp the rational mind when it is returned. Excruciating pain results when rejected. Infatuation can also be defined as ‘idealization of the loved one’. When one is charmed and stunned by the beauty, one does not expect to find faults in his/her lover. Friends can be instrumental in ridding you of this affliction. People who can see your lover from the other end can come up with a more realistic assessment of your significant other, although not always.

Because of the complex and abstract nature of love, discourse on love is commonly reduced to a thought-terminating cliché and there are a number of common proverbs regarding love. Virgil’s “Love conquers all”, “love at first sight” to the Beatles “All you need is love” place the abstract feeling on a pedestal beyond reach. These old truisms are not considered true by many in real life. Some people also think that out there somewhere in the sea of human beings there is a one and only someone destined for every single person. Other than that particular person, no one else will do as they are all deemed imperfect. That’s a chance of one in several billion. The very existence of love is sometimes subject to debate. Some categorically reject the notion as false or meaningless. Others call it a recently-invented abstraction.

For others still, love serves to be something akin to entertainment. They spend their time passing from one love of their life to another. It lasts only as long as it is fun.

Of course, all this does come with a bit of a financial hang-up. Love also costs despite singers and other celebrities saying ‘Love don’t cost a thing”. Think of all the preparatory grooming products, gifts, dinners, flowers and the occasional Taj Mahal all requiring lots of money in the name of love. Then there are the occasional divorce lawyer fees, hospitalisation for pumping stomach contents full of sleeping pills and greeting card manufactures churning out thousands of sappy lines. Put together love can cost a lot of money in many ways. And in this way it manages to keep the economies of many affluent nations quite healthy.

The mystery of love never goes away, it just deepens. You may choose to believe in love being all about ‘The One’. You may believe love is where you find it. As long as you believe in love in any form, never give up on it.



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