Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The L word.

There are some incidents that shift your take on things. These incidents either glorify the said things to great heights or throw them in the slump. They act like paradigm shifts and alter or distort the way you perceive stuff. Long back, in the dark ages, I happened to stumble upon a book at my cousin's place in the sultry Vijayawada, while enjoying my summer vacation. A book that was meticulously covered with a news paper, pressumably to hide the graphic or title, or both! It was a "Mills and Boon'' publication. Now, most teen girls in the nineties must have grown up with a healthy dose of distorted images of love and romance, thanks to those publishers. The heroes were brazen, tall, dark handsome and mighty players while the heroines were pure and demure. And yes, Grey and Steele had literary predecessors dating back to generations. And this covered book wasn't an exception by any stretch of imagination. It could have been titled your typical 'maverick and maiden' if not shades of a particular color, but the concept was just the plain old wine in the plain old bottle. So I don't have a recollection of the title, or the characters. I only had one particular quirk of the leading man stay with me all these years. He would never ever utter the phrase  " I love you".Being the typical romance novel hero, and the untamable commitment phobe, he would religiously substitute the 'love' with 'like' till the climax kicks in and he is reformed.

      So what was the scar that the book left? A bitter taste for the phrase 'I like you'. (grin) The book irreparably tarnished the 'Like' word, to a point where it got obliterated from my vocabulary list. And then started the abuse of the other L word...Love! I never liked anything anymore. I had to upgrade to
Love. Be it a dish or a movie, a person or a book, I had to use the superlative ever since. If the word love was banned from my vocab, I'd have been at a loss. Thankfully, my feminism was blooming by then in the backdrop and I never really bought the plots. They seemed as mushy and escapist literature back then as they seem now. Romance novels always felt like the friend that never grows up. All of us have one friend right? Whose grey matter can defy age? Well, I seem to have more than one and thank you in advance for not asking me to name them ;) In their defense, they can be such great stress busters. You hangout with one of them and the world transforms into roses without thorns, smelling sweet and looking pretty. They are the perfect antidote for the likes of me with 'Meenakumari' syndrome.

       So it took eons, for that word 'like' to sprinkle its moderate magic on my sensibilities. And it happened when a seven year old student of mine drew a picture and wrote a message for me, welcoming me back from my vacation. "I think you should take this paper" it read, followed by an "I like you" on the back of a very elaborately sketched unicorn. Then it dawned upon me, the beauty of a  straight forward, uncomplicated word. It probably worked its magic because it came from a child and it sounded much lighter than the word 'love'. It was a saner and a less demanding substitute for the heavy and intense 'Love'. Viola, and the paradigm shifts again.

Now I'll go back to liking my students, sandwiches, sparkling things, sunshine, silence and Sachin Tendulkar.

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