Last year, I was telling a couple of friends in a cafe about a woman I’m deeply fond of, and how she had little idea about it. My friends thought I was stupid to hold onto this thought since the woman was seeing someone else. I said, “It is highly likely she ends up spending her life with someone else. I’ve accepted that. But I’ll always be fond of her, and wish her every ounce of happiness.”
They laughed derisively, and with a somewhat pitiable glance, remarked: “We know that feeling of a special connection you’re talking about. Give it time, this feeling will turn into resentment.”
A lot of you might agree with what they said. That I am indeed delusional.
The word “Friendzone” is often associated to such scenarios, and draws pity and sympathy from those around us.
Pop culture may have had a huge role to play in this. Unless “I love you”, is returned with “I love you too” — it has little meaning for the characters, and ultimately the audience. To many, love is an equation. Unrequited and unconditional love has been perceived as idealistic, and even defeatist.
However, to me, true love is unconditional. It is not an equation. And that is why I am able to use it for entities that cannot say “I love you too”, back. People who are no more. People who are fictional. Hans Zimmer. Christopher Nolan. Manchester United.
At the Global Citizen Festival last November, my friend and I reached the venue at 2 pm in the afternoon along with 80000 other people, to watch Coldplay perform. We waited six and a half hours with almost no food and water in the sun, as the queues to get the same had hundreds in line at all times. Logically, that is enough to drain most people of all energy. My feet were numb, throat dry, and body in fatigue. But from the moment Coldplay took stage to the end of the concert 90 minutes later, I was singing my heart out, jumping and dancing, with a big smile on my face.
Nothing but my unconditional love for Coldplay could have given my that energy.
Love is about what you give. What you get back has nothing to do with it.
Once I was watching a Manchester United match on a Sunday, my favorite thing to do every weekend. Some old college friends were over at my place at the time. One of them saw me watching and said, “I’m a big United fan too!”, and joined in.
I saw him posting a status update on Facebook to show he was watching the match. But he barely watched it for ten minutes, and didn’t seem to know half the players. In those ten minutes he threw in some random comments like “We’re playing shit, Jose has no clue.” I didn’t react. Empty comments without detail are like shapeless wisps of smoke — there’s no point trying to fight them. The rest of the game he was busy texting, scrolling, and talking.
Towards the dying minutes, Rooney scored a stunning goal, and I yelled in textbook exuberance. The guy next to me didn’t even see it live, I think, but was lightning quick to share a picture on Facebook with Rooney celebrating.
Maybe that was an exceptional instance. Maybe I judged too soon. But social media has somehow necessitated that love must be expressed in torrents of square pictures, quotes and hash-tags. In fact, it even seems to be quantified by it.
But hash-tags are neither a measure of love, or even a proof of them, as I discovered.
I think time is the harshest test of love.
As the years pass, our lives change drastically. The people that are around us, the city we work in, the hours we put into our jobs — everything. The clock bulldozes everything in it’s path. There is only one formidable opponent for time, and that is love.
I used to feel sorry for Severus Snape and his love for Lily, but now I understand. Nothing but that gave Severus the courage to risk his life every day, and protect Harry whom he had every reason to hate. Heck, he could’ve as easily hated Lily for marrying James, a man he loathed. But his love continues to sparkle in a silver doe. Rowling illustrates this perfectly in a single word that is now synonymous with him — “Always.”
It is love for the game that drives men like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Roger Federer to glory, in spite of their years. And they are loved and respected for it.
When I think of the perfect job, or work-life balance, it is determined by whether I get time to write, read, and watch Manchester United. And to have them as constants, I will do whatever it takes.
Remember the woman I mentioned at the beginning? She still doesn’t know how I feel. And as for me, there have been no signs of resentment. The feeling stands resolute. It has little to do with physical attraction, and more with how much I respect her, and how exceptionally weightless I feel around her.
I’ve never been in a serious relationship, or even dated anyone. And because of that, I’ve always been told I don’t know love in its infinite depths and shades. Maybe I don’t. I sure as hell don’t know what leads to a relationship.
But so far I’m proud of this notion, because I know how much courage it takes, and how right it feels. It’s not something you just fall into, saying whoops. It’s something you hold on to with all your might. I think true love is the most powerful of feelings, that blazes on defiantly against every storm.