Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Splendour of Love

Various contemporary writers shared their views about what literature could tell them about love in the article “ A Sentimental Education” published by New York Time recently.* In the French class last Saturday, we had to give our opinions as to whether we agree or disagree with the statement: L’amitie est preferable a l’amour. This is a difficult choice. Both are essentially about loyalty and acceptance. Friends probably can accept you the way you are if they like you enough but the kind of love we expect from a partner or spouse or lover may change in its character over a period of time as passion or love based on sexual attraction can be delusive. We all know about infatuations, puppy love, crushes and sometimes we may even find ourselves in love with the concept of love when we are young.

I sometimes think about my mother whose life seemed sad to my cousins, children of my mother’s sister  who is suffering from dementia and children of my mother’s brothers and also everyone who had known her for her modesty. She was devastated and became depressed when she had to deal with the reality that my dad had been unfaithful and his mistress had borne him two other children, a son and a daughter. What happened to my parents’ marriage had created an impact on my sister and me, in one way or another.

I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions? And then there is  the question on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged ; and there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.  - Julian Barnes writes in ‘The Sense of an Ending’.

As children, who are we to judge? I feel sorry for both my parents and  I believe  that both my parents must have suffered greatly for what had happened . Through reading I have become more empathetic about human nature and through reading I understand humanities a little better though I do not need literature to tell me about the impermanence of love. My sister found the journal that belonged to my late dad which is now amongst my possessions. My late dad had written in his journal about how he had been  smitten by my late mother. He kept a journal in the beginning of their courtship and it was incredible that he had kept it for thirty over years . My dad’s journal had somewhat given me a kind of  resolution to my parents’ union.  Even though I had already learnt about how illusive love is since my teenage years and that love can change, I still believe in stories with happy endings. Perhaps I want to believe in whatever that gives mankind inspirations and hope .
I rarely read poetry but I would like to quote a few lines from 'Dover Beach' a poem by Matthew Arnold that was produced at the end of  Saturday’ the novel written by Ian McEwan.

Ah,love , let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,

Saturday is a story about Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon who is a happily married man who wakes up before dawn on February 15 2003 and from his window he witnesses a burning plane as it heads towards Heathrow. That particular Saturday begins with an unease that materialises in the form of events that happen subsequently on that same day. Perowne is a scientific  man and he does not read fictions as he wants the world explained factually and not reinvented as stories. His father in law is a famous poet who has first introduced his daughter into the literary world. For some years  his too literate daughter has been guiding his literary education and he submits to her reading lists  as his means of remaining in touch with her as she grows away from her family even though he thinks he has seen enough death, fear, courage and suffering to supply half a dozen literatures.  A very profound and thought provoking story indeed.

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