“If it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina. Love is one complex emotion that has different definitions for different people. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, we delved deep into the love of all kinds, types and hues to explore what the four-letter word means to different people, and in the process, discovered an all-new vocabulary to define LOVE. Every great love starts with a great story, and that’s what connects Rekha and Jameel. If falling in love seemed next to impossible for Rachit, Sapna was determined, and that’s why their love is different. Gazala and Ahmed have evolved over the years, and love is both sweet, sour and spicy for them. For Nimisha and Rohini, love is an unsaid commitment to be with each other, while Manish Gaekwad is still waiting for love to come his way. It means selfless service for Vimla Kaul and giving for Tunisha. It is comforting for Anil and Kritika Rao and evergreen for widow Divya Juyal. But Love is Love for all.
Love is a mystery. Love is unitive. Love is how we connect as human beings with one another and with the whole universe together. Love is how we learn, become better, and make the world a better place to live for us and others. Love needs freedom to breathe, equality to thrive, and openness to flow and grow. Love is personal, political, philosophical, sexual, social, historical, metaphysical, transcendental, et al. Sadly, we have only one word to describe such a complex emotion. The ancient Greeks had six different words, but even that’s not enough. 2021 taught me new ways to describe the complexity of love and its various hues. Love lost on many counts, but it miraculously sprang on a few occasions like a phoenix. My LOVE vocabulary was defined and redefined by people who touched my life one way or another this year.SHILLPI A SINGH
LOVE IS FAITH: Khrienuo Angami & Akshat Sharma
Kohima girl Khrienuo Angami met Dehradun boy Akshat Sharma at the Naga Students Union Sports Meet at Delhi University’s Hindu College in 2003. “It was a chance meeting for a fleeting moment that was destined to bring two people hailing from different faiths and different states together for a lifetime. There were hiccups, a lot of them, but Que Sera Sera,” recounts Angami with a chuckle.
While Sharma moved to XLRI, Jamshedpur, to pursue MBA, Angami went to Jawaharlal Nehru University for her M.Phil. Angami and Sharma identified each other more with the friend tag, but Cupid had struck them no matter how hard they tried, and they had been swept off their feet. “We started dating each other only in 2007 and informed our respective parents about our plans to get hitched. Well, but it was easier said than done. The opposition was vehement,” says Angami, a Protestant Christian from the Scheduled Tribes in Nagaland, while Sharma is a Brahmin from Uttarakhand.
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The family dynamics also played a significant role in paving the way for acceptance. Angami’s three younger brothers rallied around her. They championed the cause of intercaste, interfaith union with all their might, even as her parents and younger sisters chose to oppose the alliance, tooth and nail; they stopped all communication for a year. Being the only child worked in Sharma’s favour, and his parents gave in easily because “his happiness mattered the most to them.” Sharma visited Angami’s folks in Nagaland and tried to win them over to break the ice. He succeeded, and two rounds of talks between their parents over the wedding rituals to be followed happened in Delhi in 2011. “I have four younger siblings, and my parents were worried that I would be ex-communicated from the church if I marry a Hindu. The news would be a big disgrace to the family back in Nagaland. He somehow agreed, but it wasn’t easy to win him over,” recalls Angami.
The couple got married twice – one according to elaborate Hindu rituals and the other under the Special Marriage Act in 2012. Today, their two children follow both religions, and festivals for the Angami-Sharma household are all about fun and food. It’s their faith in love and humanity that keeps them afloat.
Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy.Dwight L. Moody