The sky, the sun, the moon, the earth, the sea, the trees, the hills--the whole planet is concerned with one question which is yet to be answered and perhaps will never be perceived completely. The most wanted question is, "What is love?" Is it "just a four-letter word" as Joan Baez sings? Or is it only a painful feeling as Rabindranath Tagore writes, "What the word 'Love' means,/Is it saturated with pain (translated by Anjan Ganguly)? Or is it "like a child that longs for everything it can come by" as William Shakespeare writes? Whatever the definition is, it definitely has something to do with subjectivity. So, the idea of love is subjective. But above all, love is a positive life force which makes people feel important, happy and special.
We use the phrase "falling in love" or "losing oneself in love". It means love does not offer you a check-n-balance kind of experience. It literally means to fall out of the person you used to be and fall in a new version of yourself which is almost crazy, exhausted and impulsive. The early signs of love show these kinds of strange characteristics. It is not a problem though! It has something to do with the hormone levels. Our hormones fluctuate when we feel something different and special for someone. The hormone called oxytocin rises up. When we feel attracted towards someone, dopamine is released from our brain, serotonin is increased and then oxytocin is produced. These three hormones are called "happy hormones". So, love basically and initially gives us a feeling of happiness.At the early stage of love, it acts as a form of obsession. You become obsessive. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you keep on thinking about your lover. Time never stops for anyone. But when you are in love, time itself kindly stops for you. You cannot see a thing as it is. You only think of the person and wish to be with him/her as long as you can. I remember Ani Difranco's song, "love sets fire to your schedule". Early stage of love actually sets fire to your daily routine. The feeling is so frustrating for being so wonderful.
Early stage of being in love also has something to do with sexuality. When you are in love, we fantasize your lover in every way possible. It increases your testosterone hormone level which makes you feel like having physical contact with your loved one. This is why, holding hands, hugging and kissing your lover give you enormous pleasure. Therefore, we can say that love not only keeps you mentally happy, but it also provides you physical happiness. Being in love is a boon and bane too! It is not possible to be in touch all the time. At that point, love makes you desperate and vulnerable. This is why, people feel the urgency and passion to marry their lovers. And love in a marital relationship is the most beautiful kind of love. It offers the sense settlement, security and responsibility.
People fall in love for the sake of happiness. They tie themselves in a condition that love must guarantee them happiness and peace. Then when they fail to become happy, they become depressed. Tagore writes, "they want love for the sake of happiness. Love never comes and happiness disappears. Now they wonder who to get and who to forget". So, there should not be any condition of happiness in love. Love itself acts to make people happy. But over expectation sometimes dooms all the happiness at once. Therefore, we should love for the sake of love only.
Now, we often use the term "unconditional love" which, in my opinion, is a utopian concept. Our love is always already conditioned. At least we expect to be loved back. We never want to be unloved by the person we love. One of the major triggers of depression is the feeling of being unloved. When we feel that we are unwanted and unloved, we feel sad and depressed. Then we find another connotation of love. That love brings melancholy. We recall the fictional characters like Devdas who was stoned in love. We remember Nazrul's famous song, "bhalobasa more bhikhari koreche (love has turned me into a beggar). We start celebrating love in a new way. I was browsing Facebook that day and saw an interesting troll on weight loss. The troll said, "fall in love with a wrong person and lose weight fast". So, when you are in love with the right person, you gain weight of your utmost happiness and body too, because you are more likely to be happy and lead a happily normal life. And when you are in a relationship with a wrong person, the melancholic feeling of love will not let you eat and sleep properly. And you lose weight this way. Optimistically saying, it is also a positive side of love for those who are suffering from obesity, isn't it?
When the feeling of being unloved makes us feel depressed and sad, a good way to get rid of depression is giving and taking love. This love can be of any form. Parental love can boost confidence in us. Teacher's love can make us more creative and prolific. Children's love can motivate us to be more constructive. Lover's love can make us smile more, live better and dream bigger. So, love is the most powerful antidepressant.
Let's spread love. If February be the month of love, why cannot be March or April or December too? Let's celebrate love the whole year, not in a specific month only. Let's love to the fullest. Let's love for love's sake. Let's love to beget more love and less depression. Let's love to make the world more lovely and lively.
The writer is a Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University Chittagong