50 shades of Red


At 17, I held an incorrigible belief that there was only one kind of true (romantic) love, and that I’d stumble into it around some unsuspecting corner. That it’d possibly start with the mellow yellow of friendship, evolve into the maturing tinge of a kusum, and eventually bloom into the red hue of a love unquestionably true. That it’d stay until my last day, and probably stain my gravestone the maroon of grieving roses.

Call it a side-effect of growing up, but I’ve learned, the hard way, that isn’t quite the case. The world of romance isn’t black (read red) and white. There are infinite shades in between two extremes of oblivion, each marking a singular story of two individuals bewitched by a concoction of fate and choice. Some of these have stained the seasons in my sky, and some others i’ve watched float by.

There’s the naive pink of first love. Oh, first love! It may or may not ripen into something more permanent, but for the time it lasts, it dances on the horizon like newborn rays of dawn. If love is an act of falling, this is, in the truest sense, a free-fall in vacuum. For there exists no one and nothing that can stand in its way. It feels like finding a secret doorway at the back of the closet that leads you to a magical world of majestic lions and kind beavers. Sooner or later though, an eternal winter conquers the kingdom. Once back to reality, you grope at nostalgia in your closet from time to time, for an innocence that once was.

There’s the intimidating blood red of a love you never thought could be yours. But then it suddenly is. It symbolizes danger, and yet the promise of adventure lures you in. And for better or probably worse, it laps you up like a tornado born right in the middle of a meadow. It takes you to rough seas you never thought you would dare to explore, tossing you over with every reckless wave until you’re drained of any will to fight it. You let it carry you to which-so-ever shore it pleases, and it chooses the most desolate one to abandon you at. It fades out into the horizon, as quickly as it began, leaving you in a sea of endless blue.

There’s the intriguing new-age mauve. No one knows where it came from, who defined it and gave it space on the palette amid all the other acceptable shades. It’s neither here nor there, constantly vacillating between hues of friendship & love, cynicism & belief, attraction & repulsion, lust & sentiment. It isn’t love, and yet it feels like it, or maybe not. It’s an almost, painfully so.

Then of course, there is the shade of pain. The darkest one on the spectrum, it’s one that almost everyone I’ve met has lived. It appeared like the perfect hue, making you ecstatic to the point of delirium. It felt like you had finally arrived at your destination, having made your tasking journey and overcome impossible obstacles on the way. And for the while it lived, all the colours of the past faded in comparison and the world was draped in unadulterated red. Now it is all but a clotted memory on a dead sentiment that you hope comes off some day. Closure or not, it is sure to leave a scar where it once thrived. And you’ll wear it like a medal of honour, for it’d have defined you in so many ways.

Trying to enlist the kinds of love today (rather, emotions tagged ‘love’) would be like attempting to contain all the stars in a pickle jar. There is an infinite number of tones, each like no other. But in my humble opinion, a love that lasts isn’t the bright flash of a lightning strike that blinds you with its sudden white on an inky black sky, or a bud that blooms overnight for you to admire in the morning and press between pages of a curator diary two days later. It’s the painstakingly long fermenting of grapes that acquire the dark mahogany of wine over years of tending to, and it only grows richer with time – like forgiveness, and a few other things that last forever.

(Feel free to paint for me the colours of your sky in the comments below)

13 thoughts on “50 shades of Red

  1. and there is the cherry red. like the hook that is thrown in, wondering if it will anchor. the blush of the cheek, the attraction like a rush when you dash up the stairs and the wonder. the wonder of the possibility. the possibility of having your heart and head dive head-along into something permanent. because the cherry is not always at the top.


  2. nothing short of amazing. I like the way you’ve used the colors and gave meaning to it. Now, you’ve forced me to think about all shades I have experienced. *Deep in thoughts!


  3. Then there is the grey, where you constantly search for the other tones of colors. You keep looking, hopeful you might stumble on it, yet aware you will never see it.


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