Love Is…

What is love? And what is it not?

filter coffee

How soon or how late can you know love, can you love?

Can you ever know love? What then might be love?

A meditation on rhetorical questions, this. But of course.


Love is Kim Casali’s “Love is…” pictures.

It is also an overrated emotion handpicked by card companies to market between folds of pink paper to lovelorn teenagers and young tweenies.

All that and ever more. Much more, much less.


Love is Rudra’s excitement when I come back home, even if I was away just for ten minutes. Perhaps time is irrelevant for him, for the reception is the same ten minutes or after a day and a half.

Not love is when he chews on my heirloom furniture, lovingly brought from home where these pieces lay in the attic. Rose, teak, priceless.


Love is those few minutes of silent ritual in the morning, be it a breath on the balcony that overlooks that big tree or an extra cuddle, a kiss on the forehead. The rituals that we make our daily prayers.

Not love is the chores that await, the cleaning, the watering, the feeding, the mundanities. The distances, the silent horrors that lurk, waiting in glee for triggers. Not love is the hours of not knowing, the unrecorded hours.


Love is…


Love is a daily call from ma, sometimes annoying but mostly much, much needed.

Not love is a list of things that are the “right” thing to do, a list that is getting longer with the years.


Love is the yellow pen that was a present and that I could never lend to anyone.

Not love is the hours we spend writing imaginary letters to one another, the ones that never get mailed.


Love is the cinnamon tone in a mug of black coffee to “cut cholesterol” and because cinnamon makes everything better.

Not love is drinking a cup alone when you are too proud to just let go and invite the other over this evening.


Love is the journal and its everyday entries, talking about you and you, you both, my two great loves. Of longing, the sweet, over romanticised version of longing.

Not love is the reality of everything, of the guarantee that I shall never see you again.


Love is waking up to see small white flowers in a flimsy plastic bag hanging on the bolt across the front door, because you didn’t want to wake me up, because you know how much I love flowers.

Not love is knowing that this will probably never, ever happen again. It is too late for everything now.


Love is the early morning coffee, after the yoga. Or the walk in the evening, that one time, where we caught the sun set and took pictures of the clouds and the big banyan tree.

Not love is well, not having yoga, food, song and fight with you anymore. Not love is loss.


Love is that book of poetry.

Not love is the poem not making much sense anymore.


Love is the innumerable small things you remembered, dangerously too much.

Not love is not being friends with you anymore.

Not love is these sappy lines I cannot stop thinking about.

Not love is rehashing memories and living in denial, yet not wanting to.


Love is also this loss of friendship and care, for it existed once.

Not love is this friendship and care, for it no longer exists.


Love is mundanities. That drive in the car with the dog(s), shopping groceries, boring, normal, household stuff.

Not love is the secrecy of everything.


Love is the entries in the journal about things that happen in this country and my life.

Not love is not being able to bravely, unheedingly, fearlessly open up these journals to you and you, the world. For they go after you, they go after your family, your friends, your everything.

Not love is this enforced, establishment-sanctioned commanded cowardice.


Not love is the inhibitions that the government, society, the political establishment, the societal establishment, all those establishments impose and dictate upon you, for there is no escaping them.

What is there to love here?


Not love is the atmosphere of fear that thickens until it is so dense, yet not so, that you could painlessly cut through it with a blunt butter knife.

What is there to love here in this scenario?


Not love is not knowing what will happen in the next three-something years that this government will rule. What new laws? What new pressures? What new unfreedoms might it force upon you?

Love is still that tiny voice of hope that there might be a rising, a rebellion, a hope, a diminishing hope that this country might just take this too, after all. It has seen worse.


Love is loss too, loss of hope and the demise of love, fight, ultimatums, whatever it takes, for it can/should/will trigger some reaction, some change in status quo.

Not love is a scenario where you refuse to even have that tiny ray of hope.


That it will one day be alright, for life has the ability to work out, after all.

​Deepa Bhasthi ​was recently introduced to someone as a hippie. In other descriptions, she has been a journalist​, translator​​ and worked in the development sector briefly. ​She is now a full time writer living and working in Bengaluru. ​Her works have appeared in several publications including Himal Southasian, Indian Quarterly, The New Indian Express, OPEN magazine, The Hindu Business Line's BLInk, The Hindu, Art India and elsewhere on the web. ​She is the editor of The Forager magazine, an online quarterly journal of food politics, available at​ Through her column 'Filter Coffee', she will take you through the states that lie below the mighty Vindhyas; tell stories from that land, of those people. This column will carry features, interviews, commentary, travelogues and much more, everything infused with a healthy dose of South Indian flavour.

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