Truly. Vulnerably. Deeply.

Nupur MahajanWhy do we hurt most those we love the most? Yes, we do. They dither from the prescribed. Challenge our idea of love. Expose to us our dependence and in turn ,vulnerability. And up comes the picket fence around the lush garden of love. Self-awareness forbids expectation — the other is faultless. Must correct the self. Resolution, then, is withdrawal. We abandon the other. Go into our safe place. Stoically martyred.

illustration / amit bandre
Illustration/Amit Bandre

Unfortunately, it’s Sunday morning. Drop the bedtime story. And climb down from the illusory higher ground. Picket fencing, read self-preservation, has no place in love. To love is to attach. Be attached. To be attached is to be protective. And yet we hurt our parents. Repeatedly. We reject our close friends. Consciously. And we lash out at our partner. Nonchalantly.

Does love bring out the worst? Why do we degenerate into people we aren’t even acquainted with? Who’s Jekyll and who’s Hyde and what are they doing invading your space? Don’t shrug and acquire my scorn — it’s patented. Love does embolden you to fall to depths unimaginable. This even as you want to give your best. And even as all you want to do is give. What you give is a lot of what you didn’t know you had. And you give this shit without any realisation whatsoever. Blissfully unaware ...

Effortlessly you slip into this new person. This new, insecure you. This new in-love you. Of course you have learnings. You tread with caution. But as the barriers are broken and you exposed, proffering yourself, you are rattled. Once upon a time you loved with gay abandon. Now ... gaiety jolts. Makes you sit up. Question. What if the now exuberant flame goes pfft? You’re older. Much. Acquired your calm over years of turmoil. Howsoever dull your life, it works. Is comfortable. Then, love happens. Attachment follows. Vulnerability ensues. Stop. Turn it off. Shoo.

To love is to desire to be loved back. To love is to be cared-for and to care. To love is to be invested. To love is to allow the other that certain power over you. To be defenseless in the face of love. Yes, v-u-l-n-e-r-a-b-l-e. Breathe... Vulnerability is misrepresented. Yes, it defies adulthood’s primary lesson: independence. But isn’t adulthood acceptance too? For how can you love without attachment and how can attachment not yield vulnerability? Fortunately, it’s a positive emotion. Hold on to it. To feel vulnerable is to feel love. And to feel loved.

Now that you perhaps look at vulnerability with that certain je na sais quoi; here’s succor. Look carefully. Is she just as defenseless? Just as invested? Just as gushing? You’re okay. Love rests-assured in reciprocal vulnerability. And this, not in a one-upmanship bid. For her readiness to bleed doesn’t reduce your torment. Isn’t retaliatory. But it comforts. Validates? Helps you journey from self-preservation to self-awareness. And back to love.

And yet she’ll let you down a few times. Hurt. Bleed. But don’t abandon the post. And once equanimous, do the three-step. (1) Communicate uninhibitedly. For how else will she know? (2) Demand shamelessly. For how else will she imbibe? (3) Appreciate unstintingly. Handhold her with patience and love. The understanding that she’s trying. The acceptance that she will falter. And the realisation that you’ll hurt again.

For what if you’d never met? Never felt this depth of emotion? What if you never heard her laugh? Or felt her touch. Nor her warmth. Or her sparkle. Your eyes never beheld hers. Her dreams. Her fears. Her need of you. What if she’d never made you laugh or cry? Never escaped into your arms. Not wept on your chest. Never bruised your back. Or soothed your soul. What if she was not in your life?

You’d be safe. Unbreakable. Invulnerable. But would you be loved?

Be grateful for love that evokes vulnerability. For she who makes you laugh shall also silent tears from you evoke. Accept it. Love her for it. Detachment is misunderstood. It doesn’t mean a cold, unemotional, i-me-myself state of being. It means allowing both pain and joy to leave you unperturbed. It means detaching from ego and offering the self to the other. Self-preservation is for the unloved. The alone. Throw caution to the winds. Hurt. Love. Hurt. Love.

Ghalib says, Dil hi to hai na sang-o-khisht dard se bhar na aaye kyun Royenge hum hazaar baar koi hame sataye kyun...

PS: translation? Quit the self-preservation club. Ghalib will speak to you...

Nupur Mahajan is a sum of many parts. Ideas are her business even as her creative streak sees her straddle television, advertising, publishing, radio and brands. Reach her at nupurmahajan@icloud.com.

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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