To my sensibility and foreign ears, the most love-filled word duet in the English language.
More than I love you.
Much more than.
At first, I didn’t notice how conspicuous and light Love or I love you/this/that are in the English spoken language. When I did, it was perplexing: friends or acquaintances calling each other «love», or ending sms-esses with «love», or «love this dress/chair/ring/soup». It seemed to make the expression too light, insubstantial, and somewhat frivolous.
For in Portuguese, to say «I love you» – Amo-te – is to carry the weight of all the love promises that have come before. To love – Amar – is to manifest a dramatic, deep, dense feeling, which never loses its gravity. It is not spoken as casually; even in the dramatic arc of teenage-dom, Amo-te is used to manifest an all-consuming passion for another, to whom we seem to be irresistibly, obsessively, hopelessly attracted to.
We spare its use.
For you, albeit an incorrect translation, indicates that you are/were in someone’s mind. It implies that you are the object and, once spoken, the recipient of a loving thought, which is manifested in a physical manner – a present, whether thing or event. It indicates that there is an exchange, a generosity and a thoughtfulness that is rare, especially if uncalled for.
This is an excerpt of the full text, originally published in Chimurenga Magazine 15: The Curriculum is Everything (Cape Town: 2010), as a reading note (RN) to the text Love, by Banamallika Mamu Choudhury. I also contributed hand-drawn illustrations for the issue, here.