Editor’s Note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for February, 2022 is Redefining Love. We invite submissions on the many layers of love, throughout the month. If you’d like to contribute, kindly email your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
All my life, I have been peddled a very mainstream idea of love. Through the many romcoms I watched throughout my childhood, my idea of love was always limited to a romantic one. Somewhere in between dreaming of my dupatta getting caught in a boy’s watch and waiting hopefully for a guitar-playing boy to play me DDLJ’s theme song, Bollywood ensured I put operatic romantic gestures about everything else.
Until very recently, I believed love is of only of one type – romantic. And yet, I love my younger brothers with all my heart, I love my best friend with all my heart, I love my Math teacher with all my heart. If love is only romantic, what do I feel for them? Is that not love too?
When I first heard of the 8 different types of love according to ancient Greek mythology, I thought about it for very long. I thought about Phillia, the word for a deeply affectionate friendship, and was reminded of my best friend dropping me home after tuition so we had more time to talk.
I thought about Storge, or familial love, and immediately thought of how my parents leave the door of their room open before they sleep when I feel anxious the night before. I thought of my neighbours, my second parents, and how I used to call them “mom” and “dad”, because being around them and their kids made me feel like I belong.
That made me ask some important questions to myself. If it is love when my boyfriend sends me pictures of sunsets because he thinks of me when he sees them, then is it not love when my mom tears a roti in half for the both of us to share, and yet gives me the bigger half? Is it not love when my father makes my bed on the days I forget to?
Is it not love when my chacha (uncle) pushes my parents to get health check-ups when they go to meet him? In fact, is it not love when my friend sends me memes?
After a lot of thinking, I realised that our idea of love is extremely limited. How can we only talk about romantic love when such beautiful other forms of love exist, too? We feel sad when an old friendship falls apart, but break-up songs are only written on romantic relationships. Where are the novels on deep platonic love?
Where are the movies on the love I feel for the health teacher at my school because she always remembers my name and asks me how I am? How do I describe that love, and why is the only love we see in the mainstream, romantic?
Through the rest of my life, I hope to challenge this narrative. I hope to say “I love you” to not just my partners, but also to my friends, family, teachers, and even acquaintances. After all, I love them all, just in different ways. I hope this article makes you think about love differently, and I hope it encourages you to love freely. After all, there is no limit on how much love you can give others.
Tara Awasthi is a high-school student with a deep interest in the issues that affect girls and women across India. She aspires to go into academia and wants to explore the intersection of gender and economics. You may find her on Instagram
Featured Image Source: The New York Times