"Life is a flower of which love is the honey." - Victor Hugo
The other day, I was walking out of a Publix Supermarket carrying my precious groceries, when I suddenly heard a female voice behind me yelling, “Honey, honey”. I was pretty sure she was referring to me, as there was no one else close by. I found myself choked with emotion, because nowadays, no one ever bothers to address a single, middle-aged father of two as “Honey.” Slowly I turned to seek out the origin of that sweet endearment and found that it was the cashier at the checkout lane who noticed that I had accidentally left a bag of groceries at the counter.
After the novelty of the cashier’s southern hospitality had begun to fade, I started thinking about how “honey” is used to express one’s love for another. I’ve seen spouses addressing each other as “honey” even during heated arguments- for example in the context of ‘You shut up honey’ etc. I’ve heard parents discipline their children many times, but almost always in the loving manner in which an annoyed couple can still scold their honey for breaking the curfew. I’ve even heard some people address their pets as “honey”, though sentiment is normally a quality we attribute to humans.
I know a colleague who lives a sort of Playboy lifestyle by entertaining multiple girl friends. Whenever he’s on the phone, it is 99% probable that he is talking to one of them. Me being a naïve sort of fellow, I once asked him about the likelihood of getting himself into hot water by mistakenly addressing one girl friend by the name of another. He simply replied, “I call every one of them honey and no one by her name. So where does the question of me mistakenly calling one by another’s name arise?” Unable to fully comprehend the nature of his duplicity, I simply admired his skill of avoiding trouble with the fairer sex.
Coming back to the real topic of this column, I’m not exactly sure what love’s got to do with “honey”. Is it because love could be as sweet as honey? If so, honey is all around but true love is really scarce.
These days, one has to prove his/her “love” time and again not just with the heart, but also with deeds and gifts. Love now comes with several strings attached - in other words, love will occur only with you fulfilling certain promises or agreeing to certain terms. A spouse nowadays may vow her/his “love” depending on how long you will be able to provide a comfortable lifestyle. Specifically, earning a good income with a secure job and benefits is now an incentive for him/her to love you. How else could one explain the matrimonial advertisements “Looking for a prospective groom with good income, preferably Doctors.” In this case, the prospective bride’s love for her husband will be purely based on your earnings. Maybe we should call this ‘High Income Love’?
Especially in our Indian community, the matrimonial advertisements emphasize the requirement of the prospective bride to possess fair skin. Maybe grooms now search for ‘fair love’? What should we call a person who files for divorce when the spouse is terminally ill? Should we say, he or she is looking for ‘healthy love’?
My parents never called each other ‘honey’ or any other pet name for that matter, but through their actions, their love for each other was quite apparent. My mother continues to love him with the same intensity of years gone by– even though he passed away two decades ago.
It was a jolt for all of us when my father began to succumb to a long-term illness. But my mother didn’t despair. She made sure all of her children continued with schooling and planned for our future. She made it possible for us to further our education at the colleges of our choice. In addition to nursing my father day and night, she hand-fed him all his meals, nourished him back to health and never expected a thing from him; not even a word of thanks. I’m sure he did express his gratitude, if not in words, by simply looking into her eyes with all the love he had for her. And I have a strong feeling that if the roles had been reversed, my father would have nourished her the same way.
Those memories have been strongly imprinted in my mind as true love shared between two people. Even now, at times, I wonder why she never asked him to prove his love for her. Did his soul speak to hers’ in a language far beyond one comprised of mere words?
Those were the days when marriages lasted for a lifetime without either spouse ever uttering the phrase “I love you” or “honey”. Those were the days when every one understood that it is selfless love, which brings happiness and binds them in love forever. No-strings-attached love was abundant in those days. While I agree that society’s rigid views on ideal husband-wife relations would be considered archaic today, perhaps no-strings-attached love can be exist even in today’s world.
In this materialistic world, searching for true love has become like thirsting for an oasis in the desert while only encountering mirages. If one’s love is not genuine – the honey that flows from it can’t be sweet either.
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