May 29, 2011

Diamonds are forever. NOT: Part 2

John Keats wrote to Fanny Brawne in one of his hundreds of letters to her:

"My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you — I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving — I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. [...] I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder'd at it — I shudder no more — I could be martyr'd for my Religion — Love is my religion — I could die for that — I could die for you."

To be honest, that is a little mushy for me.

Say that to a girl today, and a 100 carat diamond couldn't bring her back.

But, I think it illustrates the spirit of old-fashioned love.
Not Keats' love. Fanny's love.

Keats wasn't a good investment, by today's standards. An insurance policy for the future that covered virtually nothing.

But Fanny Brawne was his fiancé even though he had nothing to offer her. A struggling poet is bad enough in the 21st century, imagine what it must've been like in 1819.
And when he died, she mourned him for six years.

And I'm pretty sure he didn't give her a diamond ring.

The truth is, love is the only insurance you need. In 1819 and now.

I know that sounds horrifically cheesy but let me explain.

Michelle Robinson fell for Barack Obama when he had just finished his first year at Harvard Law and was a 'summer associate' at Sidley Austin. She had been assigned to act as his 'mentor'. To a successful, financially ambitious, hot-shot lawyer -I bet he wasn't much of an insurance policy. But after dating for three years, they got hitched in 1992.

In 2006, Michelle Obama said, "Barack didn't pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise, he delivered."

She can probably buy any diamond ring she sets her eyes on now.

Closer home, I found a de-glamorized, quintessential representation of old fashioned love, if there ever was one.

Sudha Kulkarni was an intrepid, well educated, intelligent woman working with Telco. She fell for a research assistant, who dreamt of being a politician in a communist party and opening an orphanage. Through their courtship, she earned more than him and would pay the bill every time they went out. Their total wedding expenses were about Rs. 800 ($17) of which Sudha contributed half. Three years later, Narayan Murthy wanted to start Infosys. He had a vision and no money. Sudha lent him Rs. 10000 that she had saved for a rainy day and gave him a three year 'sabbatical leave'.

Narayan Murthy, could have been wearing a board around his neck, saying:

'Stay away. I'm a bad investment. An insurance policy that guzzles down monthly premiums and pays out nothing.' 

When he proposed to her, he said:

'I am 54 tall.
I come from a lower middle class family.
I can never become rich in my life and I can never give you any riches.
You are beautiful, bright, and intelligent and you can get anyone you want.
But will you marry me? '
And you thought John Keats was scary?!?!

For the uninitiated, Narayana Murthy is a billionaire today.
That's all you need to know in the context of this post.

What if Sudha would've held out for a guy who'd have bought her a diamond ring?
If she was the kind of girl that cared about those things, she'd be kicking herself today.

Not everyone has this rags to riches story, I'll admit.
But I'm willing to bet that those who take a chance on love, without insurance, end up happy anyway. No matter what the stupid DeBeers commercial tells me.


What kind of ring do I want for my engagement?
Considering the fact that I have freakishly manly hands, I'm thinking of asking for an engagement toe-ring.
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