Love’s Labour’s Lost

Hearts! Image courtesy of Feelart /
Image courtesy of Feelart /

My friend has fallen in love again. He came around the other day, not to tell be about it but to get some select romantic prose and poetry. I was hardly surprised, for it is indeed a routine thing for him. He needs only one friendly glance from a girl and he believes that they are made for each other.

I asked him softly if she knew about his infatuation. He said with irritation, “You and your big words. You do ask silly questions.”I gave him one of my famous stares.

“Of course she doesn’t know yet but she spoke to me.” he replied rather with a sly smile. I chuckled and added, “A girl only has to ask you whether the lecture was off and voilà, you become a full-time Romeo. I doubt if your Juliet even knows your name.”

He had a sheepish grin when she admitted that she had only asked him whether the Chemistry journal was to be submitted by the week-end.

I smiled, he flushed  and went on the defensive by saying, “I hate your practical ideas. You don’t understand how important such small incidents are for winning a woman’s heart. Obviously you don’t read books or watch movies.” Having said that he left in a huff.

What followed was pretty much inevitable. In the coming days, I was to see him play the role of an unrequited lover to the perfection to a girl who didn’t even know him or possibly was not much aware about him besides the fact that he existed as a student in her class.

Anyway it did have a positive effect on him. Self-introspection told him that he wasn’t good enough for her. So to raise his esteem in her eyes he meant to study hard and improve his grades, for which I was thankful to this unknown Ms. X. But in the process he wasn’t seeing things straight.

He asked me once, as to what he should do to get into her good books. I told him mockingly that he should stage a farce by rescuing her from the clutches of a few thugs. He responded saying that it wasn’t such a half-bad an idea: perhaps he saw it as a romantic situation.

Well things drifted about a bit till we watched the movie, ‘Rangeela’ together. That set him off and he didn’t want to remain a silent lover anymore. Valentine’s Day was fast approaching but I told him that he wouldn’t dare do it. He was bitter and remarked that it was not a great inference since he was very shy. He was right there of course, for what I had concluded was rather elementary given that he had hummed, “Chupaana bhi nahin aata, jataana bhi nahin aata …” from the movie,  ‘Baazigar’ for the past one week. So Valentine’s Day came and went by without him making any move.

To rub salt to his injury the whole story ended rather abruptly. The girl’s father was transferred and she left. That was the end of it. My friend was rather inconsolable after that.

I also told him that the least one should be able to do if one is in love, is to be able to express one’s feelings and if one just kept silent something of this sort was bound to happen.

It stung him alright and he quoted from somewhere, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.” I simply commented, “Well don’t fall in love then.” I broke his heart that day.

Someone has said, “Infatuation, like a common cold, must run its course.”

So I allowed time to heal his wounds. Later, when an opportunity presented itself, I told him that real life was different from the ‘reel’ one. Here relationships are to be nurtured and ripened over the years. Love is no instant coffee.

He took it well but things were quiet only for a short while, for he is at present in love with another girl. I have tried to remind him of his past experience but he brushes it aside saying that this time round it is the real thing. He is pretty sure of it and regards me still as a cold-hearted cynic. I am sure he has plenty of support on that count.

This was my first ever ‘Middle’ article – the niche slot that used to appear on the Editorial page, sandwiched usually between the ‘lead’ article and ‘Letters to the Editor’. In the world of amateur writers, publishing this column was considered to be an important milestone and one that had eluded me for a while. Usually this was serious stuff and dominated by regular contributors.

‘To love is to be vulnerable …’ is a quote from Four Loves by C S Lewis. ‘Infatuation , like the common cold…’ is a quote made by Eli J. Schleifer.

Goofiness depicted herein was quite real in my senior school and early college days and our Hindi potboiler movies did a lot to perpetuate it. I refer to some of the popular examples of this within the article itself.

I was in the mode of writing mildly ‘self-deprecatory’ pieces couched in a humorous vein. I like this one even now but would have omitted the ‘end-of-the-story’ summary. In those days I was too insecure to be able to judge whether my story was conveyed well or not. Such a summary helped me to accentuate the same. This appeared in a local newspaper, ‘Maharashtra Herald’ in Pune, India on June 26, 1996.



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