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Where's the romance?

While working on my first attempt of a romance novel, I came to
realize that love can have so many meanings and it is all because of
the way we perceive emotions.
A generous desired gift can mean love to some or a subtle smile or
kind gesture can mean an act of love. While what we feel can be
explained by science and chemicals and hormones, the truth is that we
don't all react similarly.
What is love? It's a question I've posed in my new book and one I
sought out to answer throughout the course of the story.
Eventually what I had to struggle with was another mind-boggling
question: how do we fall in love?
What we call love is one part attraction to physical appearances and
one part reaction to our personal needs that include settling down and
having a family. Living alone till our old age must be what scares us
into subconsciously choosing a partner for us.
Or is it? Are we forcing ourselves to fall in love so we can satisfy
our insecurities?
Perhaps there is something called love if there have been movies and
books of characters sacrificing their love for someone. Otherwise what
could these tragic characters gain from falling in love with the
The first romantic movie I remember watching was 'Titanic' and it was
the first time I felt like something as pure as love could exist. Jack
would do anything for Rose and she was ready to give up her only
chance to escape a catastrophic event just so she could be with her
love. I remember being in tears as the lifeboat was lowered and Jack
watched Rose, knowing that he was going to die but relieved that she
would live on. I almost screamed at Rose for ditching Jack and when
she jumped back in, I clapped with joy.
My happiness was short lived when I saw the ending. Jack gave up his
life for Rose and a way with memories of love.
Then there have been the classics of Romeo and Juliet and Heer and
Ranjha: all these lovers have been perished by the evil and prejudice
of society leaving us just with this thought: love is risky.
Throughout the years, all love stories have contained some amount of
heartbreak and now these stories are about primitive desires: The
heroine at first dislikes the hero who practically manhandles her, and
later she forms a bond with him. The next few chapters until the end
is all about the heroine's insecurity on whether or not the hero finds
her desirable enough. And yes, in the end our previously misunderstood
hero reveals that yes, he loved her from the very first time he set
his sight on her.
These stories always make me wonder, was it really a love story I read
or one which promotes the abuse of women.
Of course there have been stories of strong women and their arduous
journey to finding true love, but those are never celebrated and thus
women readers are led to believe that love is when a man treats you
shabbily because deep inside he does care for you and his sentiments
will be revealed at the very end. The question is, at the end of what?
The end of life, the end of the day when he's done being abusive?
I look down upon those stories that portray women as damsels and men
as towering tyrants tied together by a story bordering on sexism.
That is why writing a romance has been a challenge for me. I know the
preferred market is for such stories, but I've always created strong
female characters and men who are equals. Compromising on my beliefs
would be something I would not be proud of.
As I set about working on my new novel, I'm hoping I show the
complexities of love rather than the tragedy or sexism of it.


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