MIDWAY: Symbol of love

Nothing’s free...save love!” he quipped. “Love is anything but free,” I replied. He was just getting started: Mighty emperors are rendered paupers if love passes them by. On the other hand, the poorest of the poor get everything if they get love... He gushed on. Out of blue, he launched into how Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved Mumtaj and how the monument has symbolised love for generations... “He loved her for he needed her,” I pulled him back to earth.

We launched into another discussion. “I love because I am loved,” I said. “I am loved because I love,” pat came his rebuttal. I was far from convinced, but he certainly made me think. Long and hard.

It was not long before I realised that I was the odd one out among my peers, always focusing on “I” while others emphasised “us”. Always the one to speak out my mind, I found myself a pariah. And then...a revelation! I was wrong, after all.

It was a maiden trip to Taj that shattered by long-held convictions on love. “Beau-ti-ful!” escaped this sinner’s lips. I had never seen anything so majestic and yet so heart-warming. I stood there for hours admiring the “solitary tear suspended in the cheek of time”. For the first time in my life I felt I understood love.

Yes, Shan Jahan must have been desperately in love with Mumtaj to wait for 22 agonising years to see the monument of love completed. Precious and praiseworthy were the feelings that led to the creation of this wonder. In fact, no words can describe the feeling that gripped me as I stood in front of that majestic monument. I had heard that Taj touched people in a very special way. It is true. Espying the Taj, the feeling that kept recurring on my mind was that some fairy tales indeed do come true.

Ann Landers hit the bull’s eye when she said: If you have love in your life it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you don’t, no matter what else you might possess, you have nothing. How bizarre that an age-old building made me realise this. Taj Mahal was recently inducted as one of the seven modern wonders. The pilgrimage that overturns entrenched beliefs in a trice. One that can rekindle long-dead embers of love. Who are we mortals to judge the value of this divine gift to mankind?