Of Ishq and other demons

  • Why we love and how it changes us in myriad ways

Ishq comforts and ruins. Affection, on the other hand, ends sooner or later. Infatuations never last.

Attraction pulls us near to shred us apart. These are experiences we humans thrive on. Billions of pages penned down by countless poets and writers fail to present the ecstasy and ruin of this human, alas all too human, sensation. For the pragmatic ones it is an amalgamation of biochemical processes went awry, for the emotional ones love is the reason, rational, even a prerequisite to live on this blighted, diseased planet of ours. Love, Ishq in Urdu, has as many names, guises, and meanings as people who have experienced it on multiple planks.

From our first crushes to our life long partners, we seek comfort in other beings, other hearts, other bodies. Whether it is out of loneliness or in search of companionship, love provides us to see the best of the best and worst of the worst in ourselves. It takes us to the peaks of ecstasy at one moment the very next we brave gloomy valleys of sorrow. Ishq introduces nuance and shades in lives accustomed to boredom and routine. While we wither when we lose in love, our sadness is never without meaning or lesson. The way we grow in Ishq differs. Ishq, if unfulfilled, makes us either devil or demigod at times both.

How we fall in love is immaterial. With whom we fall in love is irrelevant. Why we feel love is a matter on which jury is out. The only thing we know for a fact is that we ‘fall’ in Ishq, like we fall in a pit or when we lose our balance while climbing up stairs. The Fall of Satan was result of disobedience, our fall is out of our urge to hold onto people we feel like slipping from our hands. Hands, dear reader, are those beautiful things you hold your beloved with. The lines on their palms are not mere criss-crossing lines — they suggest destinies about to unveil, their smile is more than contorted movement of muscles, the moments with them come to an end yet they feel like an eternity. Ishq takes us to the land where Rumi promised to meet his beloved, a place beyond good and evil.

And, dear reader, there is no return, no redemption, no escape and no exit from the place that is beyond good and evil.

The sage said that you can return to your previous self every time you are in muhabbat. Once you’ve experienced Ishq, your previous self becomes a blurred memory

Pupils of a wise sage once asked him what was the difference between muhabbat and Ishq. The sage said that you can return to your previous self every time you are in muhabbat. Once you’ve experienced Ishq, your previous self becomes a blurred memory, a foreign land where you’ve never been, a corpse you cremated and then buried the ashes.

Love wants possession, Ishq cherishes the life and happiness of beloved and those who surround them. Love has do’s and don’ts. Ishq is acceptance sans query. Love is having your cake and eating it too. Ishq is savoring the sweet happiness of beloved you’ll never experience in life. Love protects itself by placing barbed wires and rules. Ishq sets your beloved free to become what they are.

Alas, I have ‘fallen’ in love many times.

Almighty, in all his wisdom, has spared me the perils and pleasures of Ishq. When I sit alone amidst my thoughts, in my silent hours, I ask myself a seemingly simple question: Have I ever been to the land beyond good and evil? Have I been in Ishq? Will I ever experience the ecstacy called love? Dear reader, the answer I always get is a resounding no. I always return to my usual self, the scared of unknown, scarred by known self.

I have read about Ishq, I mistook my infatuations for it. I keep on returning to myself, over and over again. I am Sisyphus whose ordeal never ended, same quest, different destinations, followed by my return to same old self. Frustrated, anxious, and bewildered by my arduous, monotony journey I waited for comfort, solace and someone to share my silence with. Weary of words, tired of racing thoughts, and sick to the core. I waited for a saviour.

And I found her. I’ve found her in a most unexpected place, dear folks. I found my messiah in a very dear friend. It is neither love nor Ishq, folks. It is being with someone whose silence is as loud as her voice.

Another chapter begins, dearest sirs and ma’ams.