In this fast-paced age of globalization, internet and transparency, we still find ourselves longing for old-fashioned love that exudes romance, passion and unconditional devotion. During the course of our busy daily lives, we look out for a perfect partner who will love us for who we are and who will prove to us that ‘true love’ indeed does exist. We refer to legendary love stories in history and in the lives of celebrities and interpret them into what each of us defines as the ‘perfect relationship’. But is there such a thing as true love? Does the term ‘perfect couple’ actually have a definition? Are the stories we read about and hear, be them from history books or from tabloids, really as perfect as they seem?
Every single love story has a twist and every legendary love story in history has hidden facts that are distorted by the media because, frankly, the true stories are not the ones that sell. So, here are some deviant love stories in history with no emitted or beautified parts.
Love from infidelity – John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s love story is one that is sworn by and yearned for by many. It is believed that the couple shared an unmatched love connection and were among the legendary couples of history. But the part that people have wilfully forgotten about is that, at the time John Lennon and Yoko Ono met, John Lennon was married to Cynthia Powell who is also the mother of his first son; Julian Lennon. In May 1968, Cynthia Powell was in Greece on holiday and John Lennon decided to invite Yoko Ono, who is seven years older than him, to his home where she spent the night. Cynthia Powell returned home to find John Lennon in Cynthia’s bathrobe, sipping tea with Ono. Lennon reacted with a simple, “Oh, Hi!” and Cynthia filed for divorce later that year when news of Yoko Ono’s pregnancy spread.
Five years later, John Lennon and Yoko Ono separated and Lennon took their assistant; May Pang, as a companion for a couple of years before reuniting with Yoko Ono in 1975. This time the relationship lasted until John Lennon was killed in 1980.
Love that created a legend – Om Kalthoum and Ahmed Rami
During her days, Om Kolthoum was capable of emptying the streets of the city on the night of her performance better than a football match between Ahly and Zamalik does today. Needing no introduction, simply no one in this country or in the Middle East as a whole is unfamiliar with at least a few of Om Kolthoum’s magnificent love ballads. But little does anybody know that these world renowned love ballads are the products of true love.
Ahmed Rami; the poet who wrote 137 of the 283 astounding songs that were sung by Om Kolthoum, was helplessly in love with her. The songs he wrote, literally, for her include Hayyart Qalbi, Raq El Habib, Awwedt Eini and Dalili Ehtar. For more than 50 years, Ahmed Rami expressed his love for Om Kolthoum through his poetry and Om Kolthoum, out of love for her music, refused to return Ahmed Rami’s love, fearing that in quenching his thirst for her, he would run dry of words to write.
Ahmed Rami is quoted to say of Om Kolthoum: “My poetry expressed longing and that longing, in her throat, became the country’s. Her voice caressed rage and pain, nostalgia for a world still to come, and which failed to come. Both of us. We reached our hands out to infinity to close them around pure desire, an empty core. Perhaps art is nothing more than the trace left by this absurd endeavor, certain to fail.”
The forbidden affair – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Taylor and Burton’s romance began while they were filming Cleopatra in 1961. The fantasy love affair they were portraying in front of the cameras wove itself into reality and the famous love affair began. Both, Taylor and Burton, were married at the time and their affair had its negative effects on their personal and professional lives. Burton ended his marriage to Sybil Williams, Taylor divorced Eddie Fisher, and the couple married only nine days after Taylor’s divorce was finalized. The union devastated the separated couples (Fisher and Williams) and was met with disapproval from fans, but the intensity of their passion was undeniable.
To manifest his love, Burton had the famous Bulgari 33.19-carat Asscher-cut Krupp diamond made into a pendant for Taylor and it is said that she wears it to this very day.
But Taylor and Burton were the kind of couple that couldn’t live with, or without, each other. The couple divorced in 1974, only to remarry the following year. Their second marriage ended in 1976.
Infidelity and sacrifice – Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine Tascher
Before Napoleon and Josephine met, she was married to Alexandre Francois and had two children before he met his fate at the guillotine after the French revolution. In order to support her children, Josephine became the mistress of men with power, among of which were Napoleon. They became lovers for a year and were passionately in love when Napoleon proposed. It is said that Josephine was hesitant to accept at first, but they finally united and his wedding present to her was a gold medallion with the engraving ‘To Destiny’.
Shortly after they were wed, Napoleon left to command the French army near Italy and begged Josephine to join him, but she refused. Upon his return, he was confronted by her brother with the fact that Josephine had been unfaithful. Consequently, over the years Napoleon had a series of infidelities of his own, all the time believing that he was the reason why Josephine and himself could not have children. This was proven wrong when one of his mistresses gave birth to his son and it was then that he began contemplating the need for an heir.
After 13 years of marriage, Napoleon let Josephine know that, in interest of France, he must divorce her and find another wife who can give him an heir. Josephine cried and collapsed but, out of love for Napoleon, agreed and the divorce ceremony was held.
So, in this fast-paced age of globalization, internet and transparency, has our perception of true love been distorted? Has the fact that we spend so much time online, and consequently away from reality and other people, deformed our definition of what love really is? We have lost our grip on reality and we fantasize about relationships that are ‘picture-perfect’ and as far away from the real thing as can be. James Blunt says in his song ‘She will be loved’: It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. It’s compromise that moves us along. Have we forgotten that a successful romantic relationship is a set of compromises and sacrifices? That, in order for a relationship to succeed, there has to sharing, communication and, occasionally, rainbows and butterflies?
We have allowed ourselves to drift into a sleepless dream and we have stopped aspiring for true love. Perhaps this is why divorce rates around the world have risen to the current terrifying figures; because we settle for what we do not deserve since we don’t really take that into consideration. We just grab whatever comes our way and make believe that it’s the real thing.
Quoting a friend of mine; Shahd Allam, I end this piece. Shahd says “Great love does not come handed to us by a delivery guy who looks like cupid. We all need to put in the effort in order to create beautiful, worthy-of-storytelling love.”