When I first encountered “< 3” in Social media, I am afraid I thought it was some esoteric mathematical formula. The problem with having spent your collegiate years in a dull haze – alcoholic or otherwise – is that the education, that was flung at you, pops up at unexpected times, leaving you resentful about the fact that it never deigned to make its presence felt when you were sitting for exams. Much later, I was given to understand that it stood for love.
That, probably is because “< 3” looks like a heart that fell after it was broken in two, horizontally, by a brutal blow. Why love is always represented by symbols of mayhem beats me but then when has love ever been subject to reason? First, you have the heart pierced by an arrow and, now, it is the turn of the blunt instruments, with the heart broken by a club or mace. Maybe it is just a cynic’s prescience to show that heart-break is an inevitable consequence of love but let us not get into that. I intend this to be a happy post. (Let us also not get into the anatomical details of the heart and whether it can be broken. I do not want to compound the error of starting off with math by giving a guided tour of all the sciences starting with biology)
The surprising thing about “< 3” is that it is so apt for love – an accusation that cannot be levelled against most of Social media parlance. I mean “< 3” would have been read as ‘less than three’ before Social media changed its meaning AND ‘less than three’ is sort of a prerequisite for love. The saying “Two is Company; Three is a crowd” is particularly true for lovers. Ever seen a pair of mooching lovers? Unless they are so far sunk in a roseate fog that they think they are alone even when in a crowd, they prefer nobody around them because what seems like Khayyam’s poetry, when they have no audience, turns to embarrassing nonsense if there is a third party listening in. Truly, love flourishes only when there is ‘less than three’. Of course, any person in the vicinity makes rapid tracks away from the afflicted couple because so much syrupy sweetness is nauseating to anyone not afflicted by Cupid.
What about love after marriage, always assuming that love can survive that traumatic experience? With all those interested uncles and aunties questioning, “When are you going to become three from two?” it would seem that love after marriage is contingent on NOT staying ‘less than three’. Of course, they are not asking the husband when he is going to bring home a second wife – much against his fond hopes. Nor are they asking about when your in-laws are going to come over for an indefinite visit. Those are, actually, further examples why ‘less than three’ is a necessary condition for love.
So, what is that ‘becoming three’ business all about? A Baby, of course! So, is the baby an exception to the rule that ‘less than three’ is necessary for love? Not really! The coming of the baby is, in fact, the harbinger of marital discord. Where the night was spent in connubial bliss, it is now rent with discordant cries of, “Why do I always have to lose MY sleep to comfort the crying baby at 3 AM?”; “It is about time you started to change the diapers” and sundry such lovey-dovey comments. Not to mention that schooling, teenage rebellion and college fees draw the curtains on Romance and unroll the red carpet for responsibility. So, yes, ‘less than three’ is the only way love flourishes.
Am I missing something here? After all ‘1’ is also less than three and where is the room for love when you are single, you ask? Ever heard of Narcissism? That’s me! For every person, who even his mother finds difficult to love, there is always one’s own self.