Most people start getting aware of their bodies in their early teens. It is about this time that several rather drastic changes begin to occur in humans. The boy wakes up one morning and suddenly discovers his voice is no more what it used to be, then he looks more closely at himself and is surprised to see bumps in place of his nipples — that which he might later come to reckon with as pubertal gynecomastia. The girl also has her equal share of the shockers. She gets up from bed and feels a wetness around her groin. Pretty certain that she is well past bedwetting, she touches the wetness and, alas, it is blood! So, curiosity sets in. The teenager wants to ask: “What the hell is happening to me?”
The answers rush in like an avalanche. As a teenager, one gets to know these are signs of puberty, and that there is no cause for alarm because puberty happens to everybody. Therefore, one begins to pay more attention to clothings, and hairstyles, and what members of the opposite sex in Mathematics class think about one. About this time, too, testosterone and oestrogen, the sexual hormones in humans, hit their climax. A boy starts feeling a thing for the girl in glasses, and another girl starts getting drawn to the boy with the headset. And that’s how it all begins — this love affair — at least for most people.
However, that wasn’t how it all began for me. Of course, I experienced the signs of puberty and all, but whatever it was I felt for girls in my early teens or while in high school was either not strong enough or I had a remarkable potential for suppressing such feelings. That was not going to last forever anyway, because right in my first year in college, I met this gorgeous lady who would shatter my records, and with whom I would fall head over heels in love. What I felt for those six months that the relationship lasted is something I would never be able to tell enough of.
It was not love at first sight. I was in one of those annoying lectures and, being afraid I would die if I continued listening to the lecturer’s monotonous voice, I thought it wise to strike a conversation with the person sitting next to me. I asked if she had seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones. She said yes, and we were quite animated discussing it so much that we stayed back after the class to hazard guesses on the next episode. That day, I observed she had a great set of bright teeth. But that was all; I didn’t compliment her on that or anything. The following week, we saw again to make predictions on the next episode and discuss who was wrong and who was right about the previous week’s guesses. This time around, I observed that she had an awesome physique. But that was all; I didn’t compliment her on that either. On the third week, we did same things over. Then it happened that I perceived this aura of elegance around her, and I finally decided to admit I was in love. And that was the beginning of a chain of events.
Socrates once said: “One word frees us of all the weight and pains of life, and that word is love.” He was right. If there is one thing the world needs at the moment, it is more love. More of love in every of its forms. In addition to that which we have between lovers, we need more love for humanity, for nature, and for the universe.
Love is a jigsaw puzzle which many find complicated to piece together. Indeed, it is complicated. In its amorphous state, love has been the subject of Literature from time immemorial, evidenced in great books like William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet’ and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, among others. Love is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable in exchange for happiness. As Sam Keen puts it, “you come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly”. Love is consuming, for it demands your time, your efforts, your resources and, above all, your heart. In generous compensation for its troubles, love, when found and sustained, gives the sublimest of feelings, such that words cannot describe how gratifying it is.
Let no one be deceived; love is not all moonlight and roses. It can sometimes be a pain in the ass. Even when both of you love and want each other, a point comes when the flaws you were once readily eager to overlook become so irritating they make your flesh creep. This is one of the phases of love, and maybe the most difficult to grapple with. Have you ever adored someone so much that you just wish they would give you a place in their heart but it happens they don’t even care two hoots about you? In this case, the opposite of all those great feelings is what you experience. You feel lonely, rejected, dejected and, perhaps, worthless. But all that peters out as soon as you play your cards right, because love can be a game as well.
From my personal experience, I have learnt that love makes us willing to believe a lie, because sometimes all our minds want is a brief escape from the harsh reality. Love is that feeling that reassures you that you’re not alone, that someone in this messed up world cares about you. Love comes with sacrifice, as we have to fashion ourselves many times, maybe even lose bits of ourselves in the process, in order to accommodate the excesses of the other. Love is beautiful. It is listening endlessly to the rants of the other, not because they necessarily have anything to say, but because they just want to be listened to. Above all, love is peace — that calmness you feel deep down, the one that gives you hope, and keeps you unruffled in the face of turbulence.
Omoya Yinka Simult is currently a medical student at the University of Ibadan. Like Anton Chekhov, Medicine is his lawful wife and Literature his mistress; when he gets tired of one, he spends the night with the other. He won Fisayo Soyombo Inter-varsity Essay Competition in Nigeria for 2015. He loves to be close to nature and could exchange his best pair of shoes for an assortment of fruits.