The greatest love of all

I love you.
Ich liebe du.
Я тебе кохаю
Je t’aime.
Afurum gi n’anya
Я тебя люблю.

All of the languages I speak or at least am marginally conversational in. Six different languages, same sentiment. 

Only problem is that almost everyone who says these words either doesn’t know what it means, doesn’t mean it or both.  Which begs the question- Do you know what it means? Do you mean it?

Well, I don’t claim to know more than anyone else on the given subject. But I think that if we could talk about it honestly, we could figure it out. Something along the lines of the Socratic method perhaps.

What would you describe as love?

I’d say it is a feeling of affection shared by two or more people towards each other or one another. 

So then, what does affection mean?

*Scratches head. I think it is a feeling of fondness, goodwill or attachment to someone. 

Another feeling, some more words we need to find the meanings to. So then, how would someone love another?

By loving them. It’s just that. There’s no other way.

So then, one can argue that love is a natural instinct

I would suppose so. One of the greatest examples of love is that between a mother and her child. It cuts across species even. 

What if I said that would only  be an example of how selfish evolution forces us to become?

I would say then that you were absolutely mistaken.
Alright take a look at this. You say that the woman loves her child because she takes care of it and protects it and grooms and nutures it, isn’t it so?

Yes indeed.

Perhaps that child is her own genetic material, her biological footprint, her  own contribution to the circle of life. Perhaps she has to take care of that child, nuture it, groom and protect it, to ensure the persistence of her genes. 

But that would not explain why the child loves its mother

It does.


That child has to do whatever it takes to ensure that the care and protection it receives continues till it is capable of survival without same. It does whatever needs to be done to ensure its own survival. 

Does that mean that love is not a natural phenomenon?

Clearly, it isn’t.

Is it then an abstract invention of the mind that has little or no basis in reality?

I don’t know

What is it then?

I don’t know.

**Sorry, I don’t have enough multiple personalities in my head to continue the dialogue in a meaningful manner.** 

This weekend was my grandmother’s funeral. Being a time of reflection and introspection, I learned a thing or two about love. 

I think I loved my grandma dearly. I really do think so. I cried bitter and sad tears as she was being interred. I didn’t go out with the rest of the family to see her during her lying-in-state. I was preoccupied with logistics and putting one or two things together to ensure that the ceremony ran smoothly. 

I hadn’t seen her for over a year, except for a very brief meeting when I breezed into the funeral of my great-uncle about 4 months before she died. I had come in straight from work- my brother and cousin had come to visit for a few days and I had wanted to spend my free time with them, but the funeral was there to attend, so we travelled down to the village together. 
This past Yuletide, I had strongly desired to come back to the village and visit my family. The whole extended family came back to the village to celebrate- it didn’t happen so often. We all lived in different parts of the country and every Christmas and New year season, everyone tried to come back to the village to celebrate, but it was rarely that everyone made it back at relatively the same time for us to celebrate together. This last one was an exception. I am not a big fan of celebrations and fanfare, but I wanted to meet my family. Everyone- uncles, aunts, cousins, sister (my brothers were not around), parents, grandfather and perhaps more significantly, grandmother. Work was tight, I couldn’t find time to make it work. Two consecutive weekends, I tried to swap calls so that I could visit briefly, but it didn’t work out. I gave up, knowing that soon after New year, I would be done with my program. True, everyone would have gone back to their respective homes, but I would visit and spend some time with my grandparents. That was the plan. Four days before I finished my program, my grandmother died. 

I don’t want to cry like this again over missed opportunities and unspoken words. Here and now, I will show you that I love you. No more hoping you’d understand, no more procrastination.


Love- the concept of it, the plan and execution of it is summarized in two phrases. 

  • Be available
  • Be responsive

Be available:
When I need you, be there. If you cannot be there, do what you can from where you are. If I need a shoulder, an ear, warm lips, strong hands, soothing words or the cold hard truth, please be there. Maybe, I have pissed you off, maybe I have too much baggage, maybe I have a couple of traits that don’t rub you the right way. But please, if you choose to love me, be there… Please be there. If you didn’t have the opportunity to choose to love me, but still love the blood that flows underneath our skin, be there… Please be there.

Be responsive:
Can you tell that I am hurting?
You can, that’s good, because I will try to tell you when I am. I will tell you too, when I am happy. Whatever the case, please don’t just sit and stare. Don’t sit and love me silently. I would love to hear from your lips that you love me. That is me.
I would love to know how you want me to love you too, before I scream my love from the rooftops. I promise to love you (or at least try to), not the way I feel, not even the way I would want to be loved, but that, that way you want to be loved. I promise to respond, to be responsive to your needs, your desires. 

That is, in my understanding, the greatest love of all. 


4 thoughts on “The greatest love of all

  1. My condolences. Love is sacrifice. It means putting your needs after someone else’s. You do that in your work when you don’t respond to a full bladder, when you don’t close your eyes for a quick nap, when you answer the call. In those moments, you can love your family, too, because in a way we treat our patients the way we would treat our family. We honor our families in our work. Much love to you.

    Liked by 2 people

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