Love has always been a “many-splendoured” thing; but has it lost some sheen in recent decades? The whole concept of romantic love centres around the fact that it requires quality time to be spent with the loved one. In recent times, however, time of any sort of quality has become the rarest of commodities.
Our grandparents would vividly recall each moment of their “courtship” (which happened after they were already married!) Those were the days when even a lone instance of the meeting of eyes was considered momentous. There was hardly any opportunity in that era for them to lay their eyes, let alone their hands, on each other before wedlock!

There are even stories of just one glimpse, just one fleeting gaze, just one little look, which made the heart flutter for decades thereafter.

Our parents were not really much better off. They too were excessively shielded from the (supposedly potentially scandalous) influence of the opposite sex. There were some smiles exchanged in college perhaps, and a few love letters here and there, but no real contact. Love was more about pining for the other, about longing and yearning.

Then came a phase when our society became somewhat more permissive. Holding hands was no longer a “sacrilegious” act, even in public. Thus when our generation was “at it”, so to say, we could really plunge into romance headlong. Romance bloomed, especially in urban areas. Dates meant day long outings with no mobile phones to bother about. We could really spend quality love time with our respective beloveds.

The sheer sense of independence that came with being bold enough to date someone without bindings was short-lived though. The smart phone put paid to all such states of unfettered existence. Nowadays those long hours of gazing into each other’s eyes have been replaced by long hours of gazing into mobiles! The result is that the mode of expression of love has been altered irreversibly. There is no longer the unhindered drive to the hills or the uninterrupted walk along the lake side. A distant aunt or a long-lost friend will always call just when a young couple are about to declare undying love for each other!

Personal letters of course became passé years ago. Only a rare charmer writes long-hand love notes these days. The act of writing and then tearing up a letter, and then re-writing it, while biting one’s nails, may seem filmy, but it used to happen!

Our movies too reflect our changed mores of loving. A sense of matter-of-factness has replaced emotional and sensuous love in most of them. Jumping into bed together has become the norm rather than the exception for heroes and heroines, with very little left to the imagination. The charm of ‘what could have been!’ seems to have been lost somewhere along the road.

Unrequited love has been a subject of much analysis by litterateurs and film-makers alike. Even in “The Great Gatsby”, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby loves Daisy to the point of madness, but it is not to be! The best line from the book is perhaps this: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.”

In Hindi cinema, examples of love that could not be abound, right from the times of Pyasa to Ek Duje ke Liye. Current films somehow reflect a business-like sense of love. While it is surely true that young lovers feel very deeply about each other even today, the cake seems to have been taken out of the pudding somehow, with only the icing left to taste.

As Emily Bronte put it, so majestically, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same!”

The whole concept of love is thus about soulful feeling and heartfelt magnetism. But our whole existence has become peripheral in a way, with our spans of attention being the greatest sufferers. We feel anchorless at times.

Divine love seems to be the only recourse then. God does not seem to be in a hurry to hear from us, but it may be a good idea to write a letter in pen and ink to Him once in a while!