Vinita Dawra Nangia
(First published in TOI, June 17, 2007)
Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake
-Romance by Edgar Allan Poe
Deeply dipping décolletage, dinner by candlelight and ardour in his eyes…… Romance?
Yes, of course.
Walking hand in hand by the seaside, silhouetted against the sunset as you murmur sweet nothings to each other….. Romance?
Giggling together over nothing; shared chocolates, songs heard and sung together; fingers touched and snatched away; champagne and roses…. Romance?
Time spent together, full of love and mischief, but parting to go your separate ways, love locked deep in your hearts; a baby’s quivering dimpled bottom, pitter patter of rain, streaks of sunset colour in the sky … Romance?
A glimpse of knickers under Anna Kournikova’s tennis skirt; loving more than one person at a time, having no-strings-attached sex with a friend once in a while …. Romance?
Ouch! Cheeni kum hai…But hey, WHY NOT?
Why must romance necessarily be something to do with love, togetherness and spending time with your lover? Like most things in life, why must romance be bound by definitions and limits? To the extent that when a website asked a number of romance writers to post their definitions of romance, each one defined it as the love story of a man and woman, their strength of character, trials and tribulations, and how they overcome these. Each author specified that a romance could only possibly have a happily ever after (HEA) ending!
But how realistic is that? The definition of romance changes with time. From medieval to Gothic to 18th century romantic poetry to early 20th century War romances, onto the Harlequin series and realistic romances – what a world of difference!
One way to measure this is to flick through a few romance novels. Pick up the all-time favourite Mills & Boons for instance. A few years ago, virginity was a pre-requisite and the main characters verbally sparred their way through the story till the end when they discovered their all-encompassing love and were allowed the first kiss… Swoon, swoon… how sweetly romantic!
Today, they start off as ‘fuck buddies’, move in together and the idea of marriage and HEA comes almost as a surprise! Virginity is not even considered, though fidelity is still a requisite.
Medieval romances were all about quests and adventure. Modern romance too is about quest – but an internal quest, a quest to discover yourself. Romance today is as much about your journey inwards – a relationship with self -- as it is a loving relationship with another.
Romance is no longer about waiting for the right time or opportunity; it’s about the here and now. It’s for you to find romance in every moment, every thought and every word. For, romance emanates from within you. If you keep waiting for the right time and place, it will just pass you by.
What are the feelings a romantic situation arouses? Romance is when you feel good about yourself and everyone around; when your good hormones are flowing and you love the whole world. If knickers peeking out from beneath a skirt seem kinda cute to you, then that’s your kind of romance! If you get addicted to exercise and look forward to your early morning walks, even that could be your experience of romance. Glaze gazing far out into the horizon with a blank mind could be as romantic as a bubble bath with your lover. Anything and everything that helps you connect with joy of living is romantic.
If you are willing to stretch your definition of it, romance is always in the air around you; you just have to sniff it out. It’s there in the leaf that just dropped to the ground; the trees laden with droopy, bright yellow amaltas; in the colours of dawn and dusk. It’s actually nowhere without; it’s within you.