On love and on Love in the time of cholera

I have often thought about what exactly love means to me. It was never quite clear to me, what it “exactly” meant. (even now it is not quite clear to me, but I like to think that it is clearer than what it was sometime back). But maybe it was because it is not ‘exact’. As in, you cannot say definitely that this is what love is. The closest I come to defining love from my perspective is: The acceptance that you love a particular person. This is the definition of love for me. Which again, is weird because the definition itself has the word which I set to define, in the first place.

But yes, I do stand by that definition. Love has rarely got to do with what the opposite person does. In an ideal world. Pure love would mean that. But then, I think: what if the person I love hurts me. Emotionally, physically even. And not once, but repeatedly. Do I still continue to love him/her. And the answer is a definitive NO. So, maybe, when it comes to the real and practical world, the definition of love is not as simple as an acceptance. If I were to consider the manifestations of love, it would mean being there for each other, companionship and care. If these are fulfilled, then the love is there. But the very fact that love has pre-requisites makes it seem so…shallow! Ah well, maybe I have after all not made any progress in understanding what love means to me.

Hence, I will continue to writing about the book. Which incidentally is about love!!

This is one of those books I desperately wanted to like. Mainly because I really do trust the reviews of people who recommended me this book. And many did so! I really did have high hopes from the book, especially after I read the first few pages. I loved the way words are used, and the choice of words. It almost feels as if you are reading poetry. But then, having a good command over the language is expected I guess, considering the writer won a nobel prize in literature and all that! I loved that the writing style is very much in sync with the backdrop against which the story is set. Very un-assuming, laid back and yet, somehow taut way of story telling.

But, I somehow could not understand the two protagonists. Florentino and Fermina. I do think that there is reason behind our every action and our every thought. Even in case of love, there isΒ  reason why we love certain people, and not everyone. And in the case of these two, I failed to find that reason. Maybe the writer was concentrating more on their love than on the reasons. But somehow, I felt this was the case with many actions of the protagonists. I just did not understand why they do what they do. And maybe because of this, I found it hard to identify with the characters or parts of their character. During the course of reading the book, there were parts (which did not involve the protagonists) when I was totally charmed by the descriptive style, but then I used to be woken from my charmed state by something unreasonable that left me saying “why?!!”. Hence, all through the book, I could not come to the conclusion whether I liked the book or not.

Another reason for not wholeheartedly liking the book was Florentino’s character. There were times when I pitied him and there were times when I was totally repulsed by his actions. (especially the way he treated the girl who was put under his guardianship). The way he treated her was definitely not love. And for a person “so full of love” I would have liked to see at least some basic compassion towards the little girl.

I was thinking about whether it is possible to like a book if one cannot identify with the characters. And at least at this point I don’t think that is possible for me. I need to identify with some traits (if not all) in the characters, to hold on to, in order to make sense of the happenings in the book. Will I recommend it? Sure! It is worth reading for the writing style and the feel of it.

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16 Responses to On love and on Love in the time of cholera

  1. Haven’t read the book, but now curious…. There are so many ways love is described – I guess a lot of abuse and control also passes off as love. The traditional definition of ‘love’ almost required jealousy and no personal space.

    • Definitely, a lot of wrong gets done under the name of love. If the person knowingly does that wrong, then it is safe to say it was not love to start with.

  2. haven;t read this book, but I like a something I had read many years ago- “I like him because, I love you although”

  3. nightflier says:

    I liked the overall idea of love finding itself without the clamor of passion, hope and disillusion. In my ideal world that is how love would be. Hence I lurved the book πŸ™‚
    Good to see a post from you after such a long time πŸ˜›
    There is a line in the book about fermina – ‘one could be happy not only without love, but despite it’ For me this line shaped her character entirely. And as for everyone else including florentino, I thought they were on a quest, to find love, in their own imperfect ways..

    • I knew you had loved the book πŸ™‚
      Methinks, Love found itself after much hope, hope of 50+ years, waiting for the woman’s husband to die! And in the meantime, he did not give himself chance of finding another “true” love. What he was trying to get from the other women was definitely not love and he knew that! I did think this was highly disillusional! (not judging his actions, but they did not make sense to me at all).
      I totally agree with that line. Fermina’s character was more believable in the book.

  4. My Era says:

    I agree with you that if the story line doesn’t fall in the bracket of my beliefs, as in, what I consider/ think as logically possible (even if it is fiction) I tend to dislike the book.

    As far love, well it is one emotion and word used and misused too often and often taken for granted in relationships like marriage on many occasions. The biggest problem is when lust/ mere liking is falsely believed/ quoted as love causing the other person to be disillusioned about something that actually doesn’t exist.

    Which book is it that you are reading?

  5. Stumbled here via upasna and nightflier’s blogs, only to realize that I am flickr friends with you. Great posts Neha! And lovely photos as always πŸ™‚

  6. Nish says:

    I had the same opinion as you…just could not understand their motivations. And Florentino towards the end was just yuckity yuck.

    Here’s my review of the book in case you are interested:

    http://nishitak.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/love-in-the-time-of-cholera-a-book-review/

  7. Megha Sarin says:

    Well Love is just sharing and caring ❀
    and the only unconditional love in your world is your parents love and that also there are exceptions πŸ™‚

    love
    http://www,meghasarin.blogspot.com

  8. Pepper says:

    Interesting post. I really don’t think there is any standardized definition to love. When we say “I love you” to somebody, each of us conveys something different. We go by our own ideas of love, I think πŸ™‚

  9. I too cannot like a book if I do not relate to its characters. I have not read the book … I think partially ‘coz of the word “Cholera” in it. Weird right?

    I still don’t know what the word ‘love’ means to me. i have stopped defining it.

    ∞ © tanvii.com ∞

  10. Love i feel is exaggerated ..

    isn’t there a movie too with the same name , i am sure i have seen the movie of mayb i am mistaken

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