There are times when I envy people their happiness, their joyous lives, pain free, carefree; superficial and shallow, perhaps lacking substance, yet happy. I sit at cafés, alternating between hope, despair, exuberant bliss, pessimism, sudden highs – wind through my hair, night lights, rings of smoke – and then I look at other tables, people laughing, eating, talking about mundane incidents from a mundane life, and it all comes crashing down near my ears, like waves crashing on a shore at high tide. I envy their normalcy, their ability to take life and just live it, without struggling to find answers for questions which have no answers – the reason for our existence, the meaning of love, an escape from the dry monotony dragging us by. Suddenly, I haven’t the slightest idea what I am doing there in that café in the midst of happy faces, so I overdose on caffeine and blow smoke on their faces, silently cursing them for having most of it together. I wish to be free of this eternal struggle with myself, the endless moralizing, philosophizing, rationalizing, and bouts of utterly bleak despair. Everything seems bleak. Get me out of here.
Unfortunately, we are not strangers any more.
As simply beautiful strangers to each other, we embraced love with open arms. We loved with all our heart then, and happiness only meant loving someone. We did not expect love. We did not even speak of it; but it was there in the very act of making love.
Love between strangers is beautiful. But we are not strangers any more.
We are in a ‘relationship’, without wanting to be, or knowing how. It expects us to have certain expectations from each other. In a relationship, love is not just to be given; it should be received in equal measure. Attention must be given and received. Help must be offered, sympathy should be all-encompassing, and empathy is expected to overcome any hint at anger. Jealousy is to be expected, but in just the right proportion so as not to turn into possessiveness.
Every feeling needs to be analysed and talked about in depth. Every fear must be known to each other. Not mentioning a fleeting thought is forgivable, unless you happen to mention it to anyone else. A decision, especially one involving the future, should be taken together.
A relationship is a comforting reality of a long-lasting companionship. It is a lot more than love.
But perhaps, we were better as beautiful strangers. Perhaps strangers understand love better. It remains undiluted by expectations and fears and hopes of the future. It stays within a moment which is pure, however fleeting.
Two people getting together and falling in love is a beautiful thing. You see that happiness in their eyes and in their smiles. You see the affection in every word, a hint of a blush from a text /mail. They just want to keep their new-found love a secret and at the same time they wish to tell everyone about it. They are oblivious to the world around, and much more aware of each other. They float in their own bubble, some feet above the rest of us. They dissolve into a world of their own, a different world of music and laughter and fun and touching and kissing and caressing. Their conversations are now all about the other, the sparkle in her eye, his mischievous dimples, their unspoken understanding, the little romantic gestures, the perfection of a moment.
You may be talking to them and they could be nodding back, but their eyes unfocus and you can’t be sure if they’re listening, or if their thoughts have wandered back into his arms. You try and make plans with them, and they are reluctant. Because you know, “He just loves this band, he’s a big fan” and “You don’t mind if she goes with us, do you?” “Of course not. The more the merrier. It’ll be fun!”, you say brightly.
And you tag along like a third wheel. It’s not uncomfortable at all, not even when each time you wish to say something to your friend and snicker like old times, he sticks his head right around and stares stone-faced as you laugh holding your stomach. Then you haultingly explain the joke, but since he’s so new to the slang you and your friends use, he doesn’t get it, and the laughter subsides. It’s not uncomfortable, even when you want to hug your friend, but he’s brought his new girlfriend along, and you don’t know really know her and you don’t want to make things more awkward than they already are.
They’ll ask you questions, such as “What about you, are you seeing someone?” And you shrug it off saying something like, “Naah, I guess it’s just not for me, the whole dating game. Not now, anyways.” And they nod understandingly at this insight they’ve gotten into your struggle with relationships. Then they are back into their snug little bubble of two, just him and her. And you watch them from the outside, truly happy for them but your feet firmly touching the ground.
It’s a beautiful thing, falling in love. There’s no shame in being in love, and there’s no denying that one can’t really stay away from it, no matter how badly it tore you apart. You may fuck around all you want, and say things like, “I don’t give a shit about him”, and “I’m just fucking her, I’m not in love”. You try with all your might to run from love and the tangle of emotions that is now just too hard for you to overcome once again. You mock the bubble, but you’ve been on the inside once or twice and you know how blissfully the bubble wraps around you, above the staring and mocking eyes of people, and teaches you not to care. And your feet suddenly get the urge to be lifted, lost in just one other pair of staring eyes.