I just finished reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and not surprisingly, my head is exploding with questions and thoughts. The story is set in the late 1800s, and yet, the feelings, the emotions, the madness, the confusions and problems that people have to face in their lifetime seem timeless.
It is about a young boy called Florentino who falls in love with a teenager Fermina and how they get to know each other through a passionate and fervent exchange of love letters. As she grows up, she realizes it’s not really love but immature, illusory stupidity and decides to stop being in touch. He cries and burns in anguish and helplessness and continues to write sonnets and poems in her memory.
A young, intelligent and reputed doctor, Dr. Urbino then proposes to Ferima and though she initially dislikes him, agrees to get married to him. They live a long and happy life, have children, and go through the usual downs and highs every married couple goes through. Florentino indulges into countless love affairs with many lonely women, while he still truly loves only Fermina and longs to be with her again.
When he is almost eighty years old and she is in her mid-seventies, with her husband dead and her alone and facing many unresolved issues, they find solace and comfort in each other. They crash into love and finally get the mental peace and stability they looked for all their lives. Fermina realizes that even though she kept feeling that she was happy with her married life, now when she retrospects, it seems so loveless, so complicated, so wrong.
That shook me. This is what we do. When we look back upon something, old incidents or relationships, we don’t really see it the way it was. Over time, every time we look back upon it, it gets changed, according to changes in our lives and in our personalities. At one point of time, when I thought I was so happy and content, now when I think about it, I wasn’t. I don’t even know what or how it actually was. I don’t even know what the reality is. What was it?
We change so much over time, that we lose parts of us somewhere along the years, and acquire so many new personalities. We’re over a million different people in a lifetime. How can we trust anything then? How can we trust anything or anyone to do what we think they would? Are we in a position to judge anybody’s actions? Are we to say anything at all? And can we trust ourselves? How do we define what is right and wrong? Is there any guarantee to anything in life? Is there any guarantee to love? Is there any guarantee to life itself? Is anything ever what it is? Or does it keep getting changed because we want it to? What is real?