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October 6, 2019

Lessons from a Red Dot: 9 Rules of Love.

Marriages are made in heaven, but weddings are planned here on Earth.

There is something to be said about the grandeur of an Indian wedding. They are, for sure, an affair to remember. The festivities last for a week or more—the glitz, the food, the dances, the songs draw one into the celebration. For a few days, it may seem like one is part of a movie set.

My love story was nothing short of a Bollywood movie—a hero and a heroine, with other main characters in the family. Going against the typical rituals of an arranged marriage, we had a simple court marriage. We exchanged vows between giggles, not realizing the truth and responsibility behind the spoken words. I was too young and naive.

Adorning a new, big red dot on my forehead that announced the title of missus, I somewhat sheepishly tried to embrace this new title—this new status quo.

The red dot or “sindoor” is a symbol of a married woman in Eastern culture. It has two parts: turmeric and lime. Turmeric has unique medicinal and healing benefits, and the point where it is applied is the Ajna chakra—the center of knowledge, awareness, and spiritual awakening.

Notably, the red dot roars to the world, “I am no longer available,” in addition to making one feel and look divine.

Maybe it was the innocence of my heart, but I once believed that love should conquer all. However, gradually, I came upon a profound finding.

Love does not fail us. We fail love.

The red dot did not accentuate my happiness, did not define me, and could never become my destiny. The soul of a woman wanted more than a marriage on paper. It was time to re-create traditions.

It was time to leave my red dot for red lipstick—and not just one red, but all shades.

Having filed for divorce, and at one of the lowest points of my life, a friend showed up with a gift. A beautiful shade of red lipstick. “Slap it on,” she said rather aggressively.

I wanted to flip her the bird, but just gave her a cold glare.

“Yes, yes, I know you are dying, and your world is ending,” she said. And before I could blurt out my anger, she sat down beside me on the couch with my hands in her own. “True love is when one can share one’s incompleteness with someone, uninhibited,” she said.

I gushed at the newfound wisdom from my friend.

“There is a shade of red for every woman.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

Red lipstick was to become my favorite shade to wear. I no longer wanted to be subtle and hide under hues of nudes anymore.

The journey from the red dot to red lipstick was one of self-awakening.

Here, I share nine rules of love to help us leave a mark—our red lips—on the face of the world.

  1. As human beings, our instinct is to love all freely. We should follow that instinct. When we say we dislike anything or anyone, it brings in judgment. The seeds of hatred get planted with the word “dislike.”
  2. Love is “as is.” If we love someone, we should be able to accept them as they are and not who they can become. Don’t be in a relationship for the potential of a person. One’s well-being and happiness is more important than another’s future potential.
  3. Discover who you are first. This is important. If this means traveling to far lands, then do it. This way, one is not falling into the trap of becoming someone whom one does not want to be. And, thus, there can be no regrets.
  4. Relationships are the vessel that helps one understand and become self-aware of their fallacies. One should be willing to listen to what even failed relationships are teaching.
  5. Three words: gratitude, gratitude, and gratitude. In a loving relationship, each partner will always be thankful for the special person one has in their life. Show commitment and loyalty to your partner.
  6. In the end, love alone cannot conquer all. One has to choose love every single day, even at times when it feels it’s challenging to do so.
  7. We have to be comfortable with ourselves in our aloneness first. When two whole individuals come together for love and not needs, this is the foundation of a loving relationship.
  8. Do not depend upon others to fulfill your expectations. Once our expectations get fulfilled, more arise, leading to an endless cycle of unjust giving. Healthy boundaries are the key here to protect oneself.
  9. Love should not hurt. Signs we are in a toxic relationship include control, jealousy, insults, and physical abuse that lead to us not being ourselves, and isolating from our family and friends.

There is a shade of red in all of us that inspires us to be bold and leave our permanent marks in the world. As mortal beings, may we all have the courage to be who we truly are. May we bring out the red a little more for this world to heal. After all, the color of love is red.

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