call me

I suppose most would call me a cynic, though really all I am is realistic. All my life I have failed to understand the fatal attraction of romance novels or the lure of candlelit dinner dates for two. Unconditional love? Immortal affections? Limitless desire? If I had a penny for every time a person called me emotionless, I’d have been a millionaire at age 20. No, I’m not at all exaggerating. I’m known in my family to have the emotional range of a teaspoon. Waking up to the same person for the rest of my life? No thanks. Lovingly, standing alongside him as a pillar of constant support? Sorry, not my cup of tea. I’d rather bang my head against a brick wall and save him and myself the agony of living for years inside an empty relationship. I can’t fathom the idea of an endless, perfect love that surpasses every human limitation and has the power to consume one. I don’t believe the heart is a creature so robust, it can singularly pursue the affections of one person. Why would anyone want that anyway? Why would anyone conveniently hand someone the power to create or destroy esteem, dreams, lives?

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe love exists. Just not in the way most young women my age perceive it does. The world of literature is a wasteland of broken men and women, weeping over the great and unattainable love of their lives; people who are held to such an unimaginably high romantic standard, they couldn’t possibly fulfil it for a lifetime. That is how we reduce people to fiction. That is how we dehumanise them, create the perfect mould and expect them to fit inside its skin. When they don’t, or when they can’t, hearts are broken.

And so, I believe in a different kind of love. I’d rather wait for a man to support me in my goals and the things I want to achieve. My lifelong dream has been to travel, which is what I intend to do. Change is inevitable. With the whole world out there, why would anyone want to be stuck in one place? Ideally, I’d like a less glorified love story. A more practical “great love.” It must be there; clear-headed, goal-oriented, eloquent. And just as I am pondering over its (un)grand arrival, in the midst of all my musings, arises my mother’s voice asking the quintessential Pakistani question: “What will happen when you marry and have kids?” And the truth is, I do not know. Perhaps this indifference is an ailment of my age, perhaps of my person. Perhaps age has nothing at all to do with how much one can know about these things.

There is a very likely chance that I will end up like that popular “forever alone” meme much to the dismay of my mother. I imagine her reading my thoughts in these simply put words, and am thankful for the anonymity.

Around me, young people are so obsessed with the idea of love, that it is at times comic to watch their theatres unfold. I watch them and wonder about the state of their hearts and the inevitable disappointments they are setting themselves up for. There has to be more to yearn for, I want to tell them, than any single person. There has to be more to the world than the pursuit of marriage, than a life where you exist and die in quiet oblivion. I cannot give up on the idea of a greater happiness. It is hard for those who love me to understand, but my life must be steered by the dreams I see.