There are roughly 7,000 languages in this world spoken by approximately 7 billion people. With the diversity of languages there are indeed more than a thousand and one ways of saying the three magic words that are either the easiest or hardest words to say.
I grew up in a family that show affection easily ( or is that just me as I am the baby in the family? My sisters may have a different perspective on this one). I grew up with hugs ,kisses and praises from Mama who is my number one fan. I have always been showy of my affection as a child. We were all taught to always greet people ‘good morning!’ when we wake up and say ‘good night’ before going to sleep. We were taught that thisconveys respect and love. Gift and card giving during special occasions and holidays was natural to us. When I wrote a letter to Papa and Mama as a child, I always include the words ‘I love you’ in those letters.
Then I grew up and entered the school population. Suddenly, there’s the malice attached to the meaning of ‘love’ as kids tease each other with their crushes. I learned then that outside of our immediate family, the word ‘love’ cannot just be given freely. The word ‘love’ became synonymous with the word infatuation or crush. At age 12 years, there were schoolmates who were already holding hands and apparently ‘in love’. Me at that age? Oh I already had a crush or two then but I was far more interested in playing jackstones, being the ‘Kalgaburo’ queen ( a card game), drawing, reading books and watching anime at that age.
Then I entered high school – an all girls school run by nuns. Interacting with boys was very rare even outside of school as I came from a family of all girls. That time, though I started to read the romance novels of my older sisters. I learned to associate love with the feeling of angst before love finally triumphs. At this time, I started to write love stories in my old notebooks which I shared with my friends. I followed the tried and winning formula of angsty love though my female protagonists were always heroines, not damsels in distress. The word love had become of higher value to me. I just do not write it that frequently anymore. I do not think I wrote the three words on cards or letters even to my parents. I merely end my letters with , ‘love, Diane’ and hope that it would suffice to convey my love for them.
As a Nursing student, my world expanded. Whilst I was still a student who was focused academically as raised by my parents, I also learned to have fun with my friends, the ‘barkada’. My barkada and I have always been good girls but we had our share of love- lost and won, just like any teenager. This is when the teenager learned the price and hurt of love. It became a very high priced commodity that everyone wanted but only a few got. I learned that love cannot be understood at times and cannot just be given away freely anymore. There was a lot at stake when one loves another — pride, reputation and ultimately one’s heart. Heartbreak is painful so the word love was secreted away in the deepest chamber of my heart and only to be uttered when it is the truth.
Then I became an adult and tried to kiss a few frogs but none of whom turned out to be my prince (or is it because I was not the princess meant to be kissing them? hmm) i learned the price of loving too much and almost losing my sense of self in the pursuit of love. However, I learned that life is too short not to tell the people you love that you love them. I end my telephone conversations with my parents, and sisters with ‘I love you’. When my sisters and I finish chatting online our last words to each other will always be ‘ I love you and take care’. Even my Papa, who is not that showy with his affections, used to end our telephone and online conversations with ‘Take care. I love you.’ I am glad that before my Papa died I had already spent years telling him that I love him. My frequent usage of the word ‘love’ does not mean that the word ‘love’ has been devalued and can be just given freely, instead, it has become so essential to life that it has to be said each time. Just like breathing, telling people that you love them should become natural and essential.
For romantic love? Well, I am not going to be kissing all the frogs. I will reserve my kisses for the one I truly love and not just squander my ‘I love you’s’ to just anybody. Besides, I am one of those who falls over time and never at first sight. Witty conversation always gets me hooked rather than a handsome mug,( though that doesn’t hurt either). But when I do love somebody, I will make sure that my actions tell him so even when my words are not so forthcoming. I do not see the point of withholding love for the sake of pride or fear of pain. I guess that is the price of loving someone.
But for now, I am keeping the special three words for my Prince close to my heart. Besides, with 7000 languages in the world, when the time is right I have more than one way of saying ‘I Love you’…’Je t’aime’… ‘Mahal kita’… ‘Te Amo’