What is Love?


I’m one of those lucky people who had the fortune to visit the Taj Mahal not once, but twice. The first was in 1991 with my parents, and most recently, last month as part of my participation in a seminar-workshop about Biodiversity. Both times, the beauty of structure and the emotions involved in the story of building took my breath away.

However there was something different this time. The visit to Taj Mahal incited a lively discussion about (what else?).. love, thanks to a senior Indian colleague who provoked us on the bus during the return trip to New Delhi.

See, while the majority of us were all still doe-eyed and immediately thought about the Taj Mahal being the ultimate symbol of eternal love, he refuted that the Taj Mahal was making a mockery of love because, really, how can you define  love by, to put it bluntly, a huge building?

And you know,  you couldn’t really say that Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan’s soul mate, she was merely one wife among a dozen other wives. He made her pregnant 14 times, which ultimately resulted in her death (maternal health care was not a priority program during the Mughal times, sigh).

Of course, the hapless romantic in me immediately offered the other side of discussion, namely that, “wasn’t it romantic that he left the battlefield just to be with her”, and, and, “didn’t he make the promise every woman wanted to hear:  I will never marry again for the rest of my life.”

But then the rational part of my  travel weary brain creeped in and asked “Yeah, what’s the big deal about a humongous marble tomb? You call THAT love?” which led me to look up my phone for a small book from, of all people, Charles Schulz. Yes, the Peanuts gang, way back in 1965, gave their definitions of love. On the website http://www.brainpickings.org, the writers there brought up the book “Love is walking hand in hand” and each page defined love through simple, day-to-day things. It’s a simple book, classic Peanuts. So I read out some of the more relevant passages to the bus and we concluded that, yeah, you don’t need the Taj Mahal to show your love. But … I believe you need to do something to indicate that you love the person you’re with. Otherwise, you might lose the best thing that ever happened to you.

So tell me, what have you done to show your love?