This post was originally published in Portuguese on Expedição B. on the 22nd of December 2016
Today I met a 60-something lady who never fell in love. She’s married, has kids, and is one of those people full of light, that hug you just by looking at you.
When she was a teenager, her parents arranged her marriage, no one ever cared about her opinion, as expected in arranged marriages.
I had never crossed paths with anyone whose emotional freedom had been taken, let alone as a child. I was paralyzed.
Of course, we are all aware that there were (and there still are, in many parts of the world), girls that are forced to get married with men they didn’t choose. But it is different to have one in front of you, flesh and blood, speaking about it first hand with a naïve smile, sparky eyes and a serious tone on her voice.
While we walked, I noticed she was willing to talk about it, so I asked more questions.
She had a “troubled” life, raised in the Middle East, in a poor family, love and passion were not part of the most urgent plans. Me, I was raised in the middle of so much love, so entangled in my way of dealing with passion over the years, I had never stopped to think about love as a privilege
– So, you never fell in love, not even outside marriage?
– No, I dedicated all my love to my children, that is the purest love you can feel for someone.
– I can’t imagine my life without falling in love. No matter the pain that comes with it, it is a hallucinating feeling. Like a drug.
– I know, I know!! It’s so magical.
– But let me ask you: if you never fell in love, how do you know?
– Because of books, of course! I have lived the biggest of loves, my favorite are Tolstoy’s.
I froze. She continued:
– Books brought me the strongest and most sweeping passions. I lived them all as if they were mine. They were mine, while I read them. They are all mine. And I have them in my memory as mine. I suffered intensely with the endings of some characters.
– I don’t know what to say, you can’t imagine how important books are in my life. I’m speechless.
– What about poetry? Darling, poetry has taken me so far away.
– Poetry comes from heaven, don’t you think?
– Dear Balolas, life is pain, struggle and survival. What is love? It is caring, respecting, surrendering and giving without limits. I’m happy to know that so many people know what love is, but do they really? I know how to love my children, but romantic love was not for me. It wasn’t written to be. But there were people that wrote love for me. I have loved and I still love a lot through books. Oh, dear, the books!
Although it is super hard for me to cry, it was impossible not to have my eyes flooded in salt, totally disarmed by those words. Seeing me like that, she caressed my face and did check-mate:
– Balolas darling, if this world is sick like this, let’s not imagine what it would be like if, once in a while, there were no poets being born.
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