It’s all about love

Love you! I exclaimed brightly just as I hung up the phone after talking to my sister to wish her. I sensed a moment of hesitation, an eye roll and a smile as she replied Thank you and not love you back.

Sometimes I do it on purpose. Like to my mom, I say Love you and I love hearing her shy, reluctant love you back or to K when he is at work and he will not say anything back.

I can understand where they come from and why it feels alien. I found it unnatural at some point too and am not quite sure when it started feeling OK. Perhaps the influence of the culture of which am part of now? Perhaps a realization that life is short and there is no harm telling people you love that you love them? Or maybe the misconceptions surrounding the word love has been stripped off and I feel comfortable using it?

I still wonder why ‘love’ has such a bad name. 🙂

Happy Makara Sankranthi/Pongal to all of you!

25 comments

  1. Happy Birthday to kutty.God bless her!
    (it’s my Best friends Birthday too!)

    And Happy Pongal laksh. Don’t tell me that you are going to cook a real original spread! will force me to to get on a plane.

    • Shy, you should fly out! 🙂 I did not make anything. However, if you are coming out, I will pull out all the stops for you. 🙂

  2. I like the way it is in our culture. Though unsaid you know the love is out there. I hear it often around at work but can make out it is so mechanical ..and after a point it diminishes it’s value. Action speaks louder than words. Just my opinion….

    • I agree if it is mechanical it does lose meaning. I was thinking more from the point of never saying it aloud to saying it out sometimes. verbalizing feelings is powerful and I feel like it makes a difference occasionally. Like everything else in moderation it feels good.

  3. I know what you mean – I think it may be a cultural thing. As I was growing up, I never heard those words from my parents but they showed it in so many ways. I always used “those words” in cards, emails. I use it even more now with my mum ever since my father passed away – personally, I think it’s important to say it. Even though I showed it in many ways with my father, I felt I should have said it more often. Just my opinion 🙂

  4. Beautiful, Laksh! Totally can relate to every word. Yes, I am also at at a point where saying it as many times I want does not feel artifical any more. Used to feel odd once – not any more. Yup, culture influence I would agree. I like it!

  5. Had to write this, my co-worker..always ended her phone calls with I love you to her family when she was at work. Once when she was talking to her customer , he was so excited by the deal they where signing ..he apparently said “I love you ” and she out of sheer habit replied
    ” I love you too” …my boss immediately sent a company wide email advertising the new sales tactic !!

  6. Lol…reminds me of the song titled “You give love a bad name”. I have this habit of saying love you to special people, somehow they shy away from it. Although, my cousins who are of my age are happy to give and receive the word ‘love’.

  7. was reminded of this absolutely beautiful poem called ‘shilling love’ by an african poet called shailja patel. cannot find an online link to it, so am just posting it here – a bit long, so forgive me…

    They never said / they loved us
    Those words were not / in any language / spoken by my parents
    I love you honey was the dribbled caramel / of Hollywood movies / Dallas / Dynasty / where hot water gushed / at the touch of gleaming taps / electricity surged / 24 hours a day / through skyscrapers banquets obscene as the Pentagon / were mere backdrops / where emotions had no consequences words / cost nothing meant nothing would never / have to be redeemed
    My parents / didn’t speak / that / language

    1975 / 15 Kenyan shillings to the British pound / my mother speaks battle
    Storms the bastions of Nairobi’s / most exclusive prep schools / shoots our cowering / six-year old bodies like cannonballs / into the all-white classrooms / scales the ramparts of class distinction / around Loreto Convent / where the president / sends his daughter / the foreign diplomats send / their daughters / because my mother’s daughters / will / have world-class educations
    She falls / regroups / falls and re-groups / in endless assaults on visa officials / who sneer behind their bulletproof windows / at US and British consulates / my mother the general / arms her daughters / to take on every citadel

    1977 / 20 Kenyan shillings to the British pound / my father speaks / stoic endurance / he began at 16 the brutal apprenticeship / of a man who takes care of his own / relinquished dreams of / fighter pilot rally driver for the daily crucifixion / of wringing profit from business / my father the foot soldier, bound to an honour / deeper than any currency / you must / finish what you start you must / march until you drop you must / give your life for those / you bring into the world

    I try to explain love / in shillings / to those who’ve never gauged / who gets to leave who has to stay / who breaks free and what they pay / those who’ve never measured love / by every rung of the ladder / from survival / to choice
    A force as grim and determined / as a boot up the backside / a spur that draws blood / a mountaineer’s rope / that yanks / relentlessly / up

    My parents never say / they love us / they save and count / count and save / the shilling falls against the pound / college fees for overseas students / rise like flood tides / love is a luxury / priced in hard currency / ringed by tariffs / and we devour prospectuses / of ivied buildings smooth lawns vast / libraries the way Jehovah’s witnesses / gobble visions of paradise / because we know we’ll have to be / twice as good three times as fast four times as driven / with angels powers and principalities on our side just / to get / on the plane

    Thirty shillings to the pound fourty shillings to the pound / my parents fight over money late in the night / my father pounds the walls and yells / I can’t — it’s impossible — what do you think I am? / My mother propels us through school tuition exams applications / locks us into rooms to study / keeps an iron grip on the bank books

    1982 / gunshots / in the streets of Nairobi / military coup leaders / thunder over the radio / Asian businesses wrecked and looted Asian women raped / after / the government / regains control / we whisper what the coup leaders planned
    Round up all the Asians at gunpoint / in the national stadium / strip them of what / they carry march them / 30 miles / elders in wheelchairs / babies in arms / march them 30 miles to the airport / pack them onto any planes / of any foreign airline / tell the pilots / down the rifle barrels / leave / we don’t care where you take them / leave
    I learn like a stone in my gut that / third-generation Asian Kenyan will never / be Kenyan enough / all my patriotic fervor / will never turn my skin black / as yet another western country / drops a portcullis / of immigration spikes / my mother straps my shoulders back with a belt / to teach me / to stand up straight

    50 Kenyan shillings to the pound / we cry from meltdown pressure / of exam after exam where second place is never good enough / they snap / faces taut with fear / you can’t be soft / you have to fight / or the world will eat you up

    75 Kenyan shillings to the pound / they hug us / tearless stoic at airports / as we board planes for icy alien England / cram instructions into our pockets like talismans / Eat proper meals so you don’t get sick / cover your ears against the cold / avoid those muffathias / the students without purpose or values / learn and study / succeed / learn and study / succeed / remember remember remember the cost of your life
    they never say / they love us

  8. It is our culture which stops us from expressing the simple yet powerful words. I like all the comments and personally feel that I love the way our heritage does not lend itself to expressing our feelings, but just knowing from the warm feeling you get when being around family & friends. BUT as traditional I am I feel that it needs to be expressed and told as often as you can & want to. In the current times that we live in, it is a good way of confirming the way we feel and also making us feel secure, knowing someone loves us. I say it to my husband and son all the time – 1st thing in the morning to last thing at night. Of late I tell my husband at night I am telling him just in case something happens to me he should know that I LOVE him.

    Happy Pongal to you too Laksh.

    • I can relate so much to what you say. Morbid as it sounds, of late I wonder if I have said it enough to the people I care about.

  9. I do it both ways – with folks that are expressive, I tend to be lavish with the I-love-yous. With others, there is an unwritten understanding, and that’s what make that relationship special. I personally think, if you love and care, no matter what – spoken or unspoken, it just shows!

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