Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
When I first read Shakespeare’s sonnet 116, The Marriage of True Minds, I had scoffed and thought, “What a stupid man! Clearly he knows nothing about how many times we fall in love.” He called love an everlasting thing that never alters. He is so sure about love being steadfast and everlasting, that he claims that if he is wrong, it will be like he has never written and that no man has ever loved. And that was when I had called him names in my head. If I talk about my peers, I have never seen love like that. People get into relationships and profess their love for each other a million times and then break-up in barely two or six months. And it is not just my peers- I see it in movies, I read about in trashy novels, and of course I hear about it in the celebrity gossip news.
But recently, I came across a Valentine’s Day special article in a weekly magazine. It had covered love stories of some famous people in the 1900s. There were stories of two of the most breath taking and beautiful actors- Meera Kumari and Madhubala. It talked about how their love life had failed and failed until their spirits were broken and they had degenerated into nothings. But there was one story that touched my heart, which shook me all over and still remains with me- the beautiful story of Amrita Pritam and Imroz. Amrita Pritam was an eminent writer, hopelessly in love with a poet- Sahir Ludhianvi.
Even if it was for a short period of time, he loved his women madly. But he only craved for the pain that lost love left him. And his best works reflect that. Still, Amrita was so deeply and in love with him, that once she wrote, “When I would hold one of his cigarettes between my fingers, I would feel as if I was touching his hands….” But Amrita’s love story was one sided. He may have cared for her, but was never ready to commit to her. Sometime in 1950s, Amrita’s hopes came crashing when Sahir had found another love. Soon after when Amrita had cursed herself to hopelessness and loneliness, Imroz, an eminent painter, came in her life in 1957 when she was looking for a designer for the cover of her latest book. Amrita was grateful for Imroz’s love for her. “The helpless habit of years of writing only one name on papers, walls, hands made me trace Sahir’s name with my fingers on Imroz’s back when I would be sitting with him on the scooter. Imroz would know the words and keep quiet about it. How he bore the weight of those words on his back I do not know. I only knew he accepted me, my madness.”
Pouring himself out in his letters to Amrita, he expresses the tragic heroism of his love for her: “I did not know they would take away so much from me-the meaning of my existence, my manliness, my peace, my enthusiasm for life- just everything is lost. But I will not lose heart. I will not remain quiet. I will earnestly look for the one who has taken all that away- maybe I will go to the limit of the courage, till the limits of sight, till the limit of imagination and even till the limit of life. I will try and find her and I am sure of my success.”
“Whenever you see my unfinished paintings, do have a good look at them- the moment your eyes fall on them, they become ‘paintings’, otherwise they are nothing but dead lines going from nowhere to nowhere”, wrote Imroz in one of the letters. Imroz wrote to her regularly, trying to win her love during their years of separation in 1960s, before they started living together, without marrying, for the next four decades. It was a unique relationship that transcended social sanctions and the formal legitimacy of law. And perhaps that is how it was meant to be. Amrita once wrote for Imroz, “I feel that the fourteen years I spent pining for Sahir’s love were just a prelude to my passion for you……”
And thus I was stuck by the story of these two love struck people who had loved no one but one person for so long. It was their love that remained unmoving and everlasting. It was Imroz’s love for Amrita that kept him from withdrawing himself from a battlefield where his chances were less. It was his love for her that made her realize that all time she wasted pining over some other man was nothing, because the real love won her over and swept her off her feet.
All I did was shake my head, accepting my defeat, thinking that maybe Shakespeare was right in believing in love. And I was left with a throbbing heart, with hope that I might find someone like that.