When I picked up Eleven Ways to Love, I assumed that it would just be another run-of-the-mill book where people find love, learn to love, deal with heartbreak, and then have the brave spirit to plunge into love again.
But this three hundred-page hardcover has so much more to offer. The book consists of eleven stories by different authors – eight by women, two by men, and one by a trans-woman. Most of the stories don’t have the quintessential happy-endings and prove to be terribly heart wrenching. And many of them make you sit up and pay attention to issues aside from the experience of love itself.
And though all of the accounts have wonderful insight into the world of love, a couple of them seemed to be especially incredible.
In The Shade of You, author Anushree Majumdar portrays an acutely honest picture of how dating a black man in the capital city is both an ordeal and an experience like no other. The story reflects the general mindset of Indian people, especially North-Indians, who pride themselves on being fair. “…a certain kind of blackness is acceptable-the hip-hop rap group or artiste, the Premier League footballer, Barack Obama, Idris Elba for James Bond – you get the drift. But what about the several different cultures from African countries that international student populations or expatriates bring to our cities? Ain’t nobody got time for that?” writes Majumdar, her brutally candid words forcing me to reflect on my own supposedly ‘unbiased’ outlook of the Black community.
In another beautiful story, Size Matters, (which, full disclosure, was published by The Ladies Finger) the author delves into a person’s struggle to love while being considerably overweight. She, at one point, talks about how people with prominent collarbones can’t really be called fat. Having inherited the aforementioned collarbones, I went through a brief moment of jubilation upon reading this. But that was quickly replaced by the immediate shameful realisation that I just played into the same prejudices that she was talking about.
Aside from the common ground of love, the essays share opinions on a variety of areas like caste, loneliness, body-shaming, disability, different sexualities and more. The authors’ writings about love reflect an inherent honesty and that, I think, is the most appealing aspect of the book.