A newly married couple sitting amidst clouds with their backs to the camera

This Way

For some guys,

It’s about putting a stick

In a hole.

For the romantic,

It’s about finding the way

To the other’s soul.

A set of Matryoskha dolls


Your last love. The last person you love, not the last person you loved. Obviously, a few have come before this. So, do you see a little bit of each of them in this love? Or is it more like, each of the previous ones was giving you a glimpse of the one to come?

A figure of an old couple sitting on a park bench, with the man giving a peck on the woman's cheek

First and Last

If you are 18 or above, you have loved at least once. Before that, you’ve crushed at least once. And you know the difference, because a crush makes you heady, but love, it makes you hearty.

We never forget our first love, and though we typically never get our first love (we are usually too young then), we always remember it fondly. (We also never forget the first time we, you know, winky-winky, but that’s another matter…)

But what about our last love? Not the last time we had loved, but the last time we think we can love. Because after this, there seems there can be no more love. Not because we are in the depths of despairing, but because we have seen the heights of love. The bar now is raised so high, forget attempting it, no one can even eye it. So, while our first love we recall fondly, our last love we remember deeply. Because it’s filled us as deeply.

A woman's hands clutching tight a giant heart shape

The Heartbreak of the Matter

When you fall in love, who puts that love in there? You? The person you love? Or some force from above? Or, all three? Maybe that’s why, more often than not, your heart breaks. Because love might be in your heart. But loving is not in your hands.

A conceptual image of a couple in small and silhouette sitting within the frame of a plant in the shape of a heart

Greater than Great

If you are lucky, you have experienced love (love, not a crush) once in your life. If really lucky, you’ve perhaps experienced it twice or even thrice. For that, perhaps you need to have lived longer. But if you are really, really lucky – no, fortunate – you’ve experienced great love. All its tumult, all its turmoil, all its tension, all its torture, all its terror, in short, all its tsunamis. And it is a tsunami, or multiple. It gets into you, seizes you, holds you captive, fills your being. And in the process, brings out a tsunami of tears too. For you typically don’t get your great love. That’s why it’s called great: it’s something beyond your bearing. (And also other people’s understanding.) Still, you are better for it. Although you were worse for it when you were in it.

But can there be something greater than great love? Is that possible? Is even just that thought possible? As I said, perhaps it is. If you are the deeply romantic sort – and the highly lucky sort. As it is greater than great love, it also happens in a realm that’s beyond yours: the spiritual, the metaphysical, the sufi sort, and although I don’t believe in religion and just a bit in god, perhaps the divine sort. The closest I can think of is the kind that Meera felt for her lord. But given that both those are pretty much myths, this kind of love is perhaps of mythical proportions too. Because it’s about how a great life should be led, how great a life it could be, how great you could become (for yourself) in this greater-than-great love…

So, what do you call this love that is greater than great love? What else but… great life? And that can only be explained by experiencing it.

Guru Dutt serenading Waheeda Rehman in the title song of Chaudhvin ka Chand

Love by Other Names

My deep discovery of Guru Dutt has led me to find out more about his collaborators (such as Sahir Ludhianvi) and his peers and contemporaries (right from Meena Kumari to Dara Singh). One thing, one aspect of language I noticed in movies of those times (I just finished reading the biography on Sahir by Akshay Manwani) is that the Indic word for love (romantic love) in usage was mohabbat. In today’s movies, pyaar is used most often and to some extent ishq, including film and song titles. Prem is used in even fewer movies, unless they have a Hindi heartland setting or are a Salman Khan movie.

The words, to the best of my knowledge, all mean the same, just the language or dialect differs. So, prem is a pure Hindi word, I trust, with its roots in Sanskrit. Pyaar sounds like a touch of Urdu in Hindi, or Hindustani as it’s called. Ishq sounds Arabic, and mohabbat sounds pure Urdu. Which is perfect for those times (50s and 60s), when Urdu was used a lot in those movies.

So, why and where did mohabbat lose currency? Because Urdu is used less in Hindi movies these days, and there are definitely no Muslim socials happening now? Because pyaar sounds the softest of the lot? Or because mohabbat sounds so big and long? After all, where do people have time – or care – for big, long romantic love these days?