Do we still know what love is?

2008-11-26 00:00

As the year draws to a close, one cannot help but feel guilty about things that have been left undone or unfinished, about resolutions that have been unfulfilled and plans that have not been executed.

Most of my time is spent reading anything that I can get my hands on as long as it is interesting. For the past couple of months, it has come to my attention that a lot of double murders are being committed and most of the time it involves a couple. I find this disturbing. Questions will always remain unanswered as the people who have the answers can no longer speak. Those who are left behind can only speculate as to what the reasons were for this gruesome action.

I often ask myself: what would possess a person who claims to love me to take my life or even his own life for that matter? All of this, of course, is done in the name of love. I cannot help but conclude that we no longer know what love is. If I knew the Bible, I would quote the scripture that talks about love being patient, not proud and so on. I believe that love starts from within us and grows to the people around us. I thought I knew what love was as I have a family and I love them, all of them, but it was when I gave birth to my own child that I believe that God revealed to me what love really is.

Love has been described as any number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection. In the same breath we have jealousy, which I believe causes a lot of problems in our relationships. It is said that jealousy typically refers to negative thoughts, and feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety. I cannot claim to understand what the issues around relationships are, as every relationship is complex and issues vary. I’m struggling to understand my own relationship.

As women, we cannot show unhappiness in our relationships, and we cannot voice our dissatisfaction as we will be suspected of cheating and be threatened with violence. As a woman, you catch your man cheating not once but countless times but you cannot leave him for reasons only known to you and you forgive him for the umpteenth time and you stay in the relationship knowing that he is bound to do it again — you are expected to smile and move on with your life as if nothing has happened. However, at the first sign that you might be up to no good — and this might include a number of things that have nothing to do with cheating — you will be threatened.

I have lost count of how many women have lost their lives this year alone at the hands of those who claimed to love them. These women were sisters, daughters and mothers and their lives were taken so suddenly and painfully. We need to stand up and do something as a country to put a stop to this. I have spoken to so many people regarding this issue — I even went as far as discussing it with my partner. It pains me to say that no one knows the cause or why it is happening so frequently. How do we then, as a society, begin to address an issue that even the men in our lives are not willing to discuss? How do we cure a disease without understanding the cause?

We cannot live without love and we cannot say we are shunning relationships because we are afraid of being hurt. We need to learn to communicate, no matter how difficult it is. We cannot allow a situation to occur where we are controlled by our emotions and end up not reasoning.

When the year started, I resolved that I was going to be a better daughter, sister, mother, lover and a better communicator but, as life would have it, some of these resolutions were left unfulfilled. I was hurt, disappointed and cheated on by people I loved and trusted, but not once did it cross my mind that I should take the lives of those who had done me wrong or take my own life. Instead, I resolved to forgive and continue with my life, as challenging as it is. We always talk about setting up forums where issues that affect our social standing are discussed, but nothing comes of it, so I have decided that one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to reach out to as many people as I can regarding this issue and try to make a difference in the lives of those who see no way out.

As we look forward to the New Year, we will have to survive the festive season with all the alcohol and the car accidents. We all need to make a commitment to behave a little more responsibly so that we can celebrate the New Year. I will start with the person in the mirror.

• Nandipha Ngomane works for the Department of Land Affairs and writes in her personal capacity.

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