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What is love?

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th September 2011 03:00 AM

BACK in the day when I was a gangly teenager with a penchant for singing along to any song that had ‘cool’ beats, I used to love the song Love is a Verb by a group called DC Talk. I never really understood what that meant. But the beats were hip, so why not sing along?

BACK in the day when I was a gangly teenager with a penchant for singing along to any song that had ‘cool’ beats, I used to love the song Love is a Verb by a group called DC Talk. I never really understood what that meant. But the beats were hip, so why not sing along?

By Ilonka Naziwa

BACK in the day when I was a gangly teenager with a penchant for singing along to any song that had ‘cool’ beats, I used to love the song Love is a Verb by a group called DC Talk. I never really understood what that meant. But the beats were hip, so why not sing along?

The older I get the more meaning I find in love being a verb. We all know that verbs are action words or ‘doing words’ as we used to chorus in primary school when asked by the teacher what a verb is. However, the one definition that has not always been so clear is the word ‘love’.

Over the years, this word has evolved in meaning; it has morphed, stretched and kept reinventing itself through the many experiences of life. My first exposure to ‘love’ was through Sunday school; yes I was told God loved me unconditionally. It did not really make a difference to me then because I did not understand it or maybe because I did not know what hate was then.

See, sometimes, a definition of a word can best be described by having a familiarity with an opposite word. In the home I grew up in, there was no such thing as hate, so there seemed to be no need to define love. So, maybe one can say the first experience of love I had was with my parents. As a child I knew they loved me and were obliged to do so, but I really could not define how they portrayed their love then.

It is only when I got older that I looked back and realised ‘wow, my parents loved me, they loved us.’ And it is the recollection of their activities and commitment that tells me that they loved us; it was not the number of times they told us they loved us. Actually I cannot recall my parents telling me they loved me as a child, if they did, it is something I must have shrugged off and not considered it important. I mean, my two brothers and I (back then when we were only three children) were not caught up in emotions; we just wanted to live life (read: play), and the less we saw or interacted with our parents the better.

Then our brother, Gube, came along; I must say I did not feel any sentiment of love. In fact, Gube was an inconvenience because on top of all the chores we already had, babysitting was introduced.

The next experience of love that I encountered, originated from Sweet Valley High novels, a series of books about 16-year-old identical twin sisters going through the throes of teenage life. I was 12, and I admired the life of the Wakefield twins, their friends and boyfriends. From these books I learnt that love was a feeling.

That was a fatal lesson, one which would keep throwing me back rather than take me forward in this life. I figured out that since love was a feeling, whoever I loved was obliged to return the sentiment. We all know that not everyone you love loves you back, especially if love is defined as just a feeling. Way into my 20s, friendships and relationships ended because the love was not returned or because the feeling died out.

Then came the birth of my son and for the first time in life I was overwhelmed by emotions of fear, insecurity and adoration. I did not like the feeling because it left me vulnerable and I felt like this little boy represented my whole heart and unfortunately, my heart was out in the world for all to see, for all to hurt. I then decided I would do anything to protect and nurture this little being, so as to give him the best start he could possibly have at this life. I then realised that love was what was spurring me to action.

See, love can be said in many different languages, it can be felt in a myriad forms, but one universal law holds true; it cannot be love if it is not supported by actions. Actions vary, but when they are done in love, the message is loud and clear. Silent love, love that makes the heart skip a beat, or paints the stars in the sky; that is all love, but that is just a small part of it. Real love is actually a verb.

What is love?

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