(Love is our deepest value: Love is freedom, love is salvation. If love tears us apart, it also keeps us alive. No matter what, love finds a way, almost always. Going against the grimy grain of contemporary political discourse, we have declared 2022 to be the year of love: for us, talking about love in a time of hatred is a revolutionary act. Outlook's issue revisited The Beatles’ words of wisdom: “All You Need Is Love.” What’s more, we will publish love stories all year long. The next full moon, which falls on February 16, is all set to put under the spotlight our passions, our romantic quests. On Valentine’s Day, we feature a curated selection of love stories that will tug at your heartstrings.)
At fifteen, is it good to believe that you know what love is?
There is perhaps something to be said for love poems written at that age or love letters to people. But a full-blown musing on the emotion seems like an exercise in complete unhinged cockiness that needed to be taken down.
Here is the text in full:
I am 15. Perhaps I am too young to understand love and feel it. But I think I have felt it. That sudden tingling sensation, the rush of blood, momentary blinding and the sweet afterthoughts that last for a lifetime — yes, I have felt all of it. Not just once, but a dozen times. In different places. In a theatre, at a restaurant, on the street, on a train … They say it is only infatuation. They may be right. But for that period of time, I am in love and I know it and feel that everybody knows it.
I usually don’t see my sweethearts more than once. But their faces are etched on my mind’s canvas. If I were a painter, I would be holding an exhibition of the portraits of my sweethearts by now. If I were a poet, I would have published at least two volumes of love poetry by now.
But I am an ordinary person, cut out to live an ordinary life. My sweethearts are destined to live and perish in my soul. My sweethearts may not be Brooke Shields in the making, but I love them and admire them.
Though my love for a previous flame is put out when I see someone surpassing her in beauty, I am forever in love.
What’s there in love? A lot of things, I am sure. All of us fall in love, at least once. No nos, please! I have been in love and know it.
Thirty-odd years after I first wrote the lines above, I am convinced that I should have not gone there at all. Someone needed to step in and teach me a thing or two. The shallowness of the emotion, the cloying sentimentality, the ‘been there, done that’ attitude — all of it needed a dressing down.
But I was 15. I wanted to write. I wanted to feel. I wish I had known better.
I think I am still there. If I knew better, I wouldn’t have fished this piece out for publication.
(Karthik Venkatesh is a Bengaluru-based author, who works in publishing and occasionally tries to write. He wants to be fifteen eternally)