Books and My Ideas of Love - by Shehbano Syed

In my opinion, as humans, we all build our experiences from things around us. Our surroundings play a huge part in our perceptions and ideas about things. For me, as an avid reader, my introduction to most things in life came from books. This explains why my idea about love also came from the first book I read. As time passed, different writers and genres helped me evolve my perception of love.

That feeling of rush, the happiness when one buys a book, the laughter and the tears as one reads it makes up a lifelong long love affair. It made me realise that love, like books, should be constant, faithful and silent and it should be always there, backing you up on your good days and standing by your side on hard ones. Starting with the very first book I read in my life, the legendary ‘Matilda’, the children's classic by Roald Dahl about a bibliophile’s journey of falling in love with her books. This book helped me develop my love for reading and it was at this point when I discovered what love truly meant and that love was not only reserved for people, but for things too.

In middle school, another book came by to completely change my perspective on love and its relation to grief. It was ‘While you were out’ by J Irwin Kun, in which the protagonist loses her best friend to cancer. It was this book that made me realise the connection between love and remembrance. True love is always in one's heart whether the person you love does not exist in the same world as you. Losing someone does not erase the love, instead, it strengthens it because the person becomes a memory that can always be cherished. As Wanda reflecting his memories in Wandavision beautifully put it into words, "What is grief if, not love persevering?”. That feeling of sadness is proof of the existence of love because one can only miss something he truly cares about. Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful things about love, that sometimes it becomes difficult to convey and express, but true love’s existence is undeniable. In my high school years, the course content led me to read Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. This book has an overriding theme of love and gives the concept of the power of love, its impact and consequences. The book also explains how each of them is different from the other. Love has a discrete ability to make a person happier than ever and experience the deepest level of pain at the same time. It also helped me realise the connection between love with hate and how similar they are. Each is joined with passion and is capable of destruction when one loses control. It gave me a lesson on how love should not be so blind and should not be given the ability to incite violence and give roots to hatred and jealousy. It was also then that it became very clear that love is what you make it to be. It can be liberating and boundless giving a person wings to freedom or chain one with shackles of misery and pain. One of my mum's favourite books ‘Jane Eyre’ by Bronte became my gateway towards understanding the complexities of love. It made me understand that deep down all humans are the same; we crave to be loved, to be accepted, to be valued and have a sense of belonging and it is only true love that can give a person all these. Its themes proved that true love ages through hardships, when everyone leaves, love always stays behind and it shelters, nurtures and protects. It never leaves one alone. Another classic that gave me a notion of love was Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which helped me acquire the concept of the fact that love has no barriers or boundaries. The vivid personality of its characters allowed them to fall into someone who's totally opposite. It gave me the illusion that relations are built on the foundation of true love and there's no space for pride between them. It's often egos’ that turn love stories into tragic ones. To love is to be selfless and to be accepting.

One of my own favourite books, Let it snow, which is a three-part holiday love story merged together, comprehended modern love for me. It summed up that love can be present around us and sometimes all one needs is the right time to recognize it and find it in places where you least expect it to and when you do, it is all about seizing the moment and not letting it go.

There are so many more books that influenced my perception of love. It was something that began as a narrow and small concept has now turned into a vast and diverse one. For me, love is limitless. It has no place for time or barrier, no age nor gender. It is not quantifiable and cannot be compared as each love is unique and one of its own kind. To be able to feel love is a blessing, but to be able to love someone is an even greater one. Love can be anyone or anything that brings you joy and happiness. It is constant, it is patient, it is persevering and most of all it is accepting without any condition. It does not pull you back but helps you bloom. It gets you past hard times and makes each good day count. It may not be perfect, but it makes life easier, it may not be seen or heard but it can be felt, it can be shown. And most importantly, I have learnt that love is always enough.

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