Feb 11, 2013

Love is...



One of the earliest comics that I remember seeing in the newspapers alongside Garfield, Peanuts, Hagar the Horrible and Phantom was an innocuous single panel strip called 'Love is'. It always started the same way : The words 'Love is' would be written on the top corner followed by a drawing of a sweet childish couple in the centre and the end of the phrase at the bottom. I'm sure many of you have seen it too.

Seems like a one-trick pony, doesn't it ? I mean, how long could you possibly keep 'filling' the phrase 'Love is', right ?
Well, a lot more than you can imagine. You see, the 'Love is' strip has in fact been running in print since January 1970. 

But do you know the love story behind these cartoon strips is just as inspiring as it's sweet words ?



As a teenager, New Zealand born Kim Grove used to draw these cartoon figures based on love letters she had written... to a husband she had not even met ! When she did meet the love of her life in '67, Italian Robert Casali, he proved to be the perfect inspiration, encouraging her to consider a wider audience for the cute cartoons she drew at the end of their love letters. The comic strip was well received right from the start and achieved almost instant international success, thanks in no small measure to the release of the 1970 iconic movie, Love Story, at roughly the same time. Though there was no relation between the comic and the movie, the theme of love and it's many hues was felt across hearts in love, worldwide. 


Now, here's where fate played it's hand, seeking it's own cruel inspiration from the above mentioned movie. When the artist Kim did marry Robert in 1971, he asked her what she wanted. With the memory of her late father in her mind, she told him 'Whatever you do, don't die on me.' 


Four years later, Robert was diagnosed with late stage testicular cancer. Less than a year later, at the age of 31 years old, he passed away.


But even death is not the end of this love story.

In December 1975, four months before his death, Robert Casali would ask her what she wanted for Christmas. Kim told him that she didn't want diamonds, she just wanted a baby ( they had two children already). In July 1977, sixteen months after he passed away, the 'miracle' child, Milo Roberto was born to her. 
Knowing that they had very little time left, the couple had stored his sperm in a sperm bank before he died. With the aid of artificial insemination, Robert Casali had become a father more than a year after his death. 

Kim's actions were met with anger by those in power, with even the Vatican condemning her act of having the man's child after he was dead. Lawyers and  barristers screamed foul, claiming that her child had no right to her husband's inheritance and actually demanded that Parliament decide the future of her baby. 

With both religion and the law cursing her, this single mother of three would find courage not just from within, but from a source she perhaps didn't count on - the thousands of letters of support from people she had never met but who had been inspired to love via her comic. Eventually, the church and the lawyers had no other option than to leave her alone as they, the final authorities in all matters, simply couldn't compete with the power of love, both within her and the public.  

Kim never married again, devoting her life to looking after her family till she passed away in 1997. Her comic, 'Love is...' continues to this day in more than two dozen languages across thousands of newspapers, spreading a message of love  that originated from a young girl's love letters in 1967.

 "Milo is here because of the love of his mother and father. 
If that is judged wrong, the world has lost its sense of proportion. "
- Kim Casali


Today, artificial insemination is considered routine. But back in her day, Kim had to go against the government and religious heads for what she did. She stood her ground against tremendous odds and fought for the one thing she believed in - her love for her husband and their dream of having another child. There is an obvious lesson in there for us too.

You and I, we live in a world that has seen nearly 38 summers since Kim asked her husband for another child. We live in a country that wants to be a super power and knows to fly rockets into space but doesn't know how to respect people in love. 
We find endless reasons to prevent that emotion from developing - caste, creed, bank balance, western influence, too young, too old, eating habits, height, weight, astrology. 

None of this will matter unless there is love and respect in the relationship... it's not a western thought... it's just logic. 

Love. 
In that one word, even without me having to say anything more, you have already revisited memories of your life. They maybe sweet or bitter, bring a smile to your face or place a weight on your heart, depending on the final outcome. But as I always believe, it isn't the destination that matters but the journey... not whether there was a happily ever after, but whether your heart has lived and experienced the magic of love.

Celebrate your love this year rather than sitting in fear of what the world or fanatics think. If your past experiences have been bitter, take it as a lesson learned and open your heart once more. Someone, somewhere is waiting to fall in love with you
Couples in love, take the time out to think of how you'll surprise your loved one and make him/her feel special... at least for the 24 hours of Valentines, if not the whole year !  

Because when the journey is over, you will find that the moments you were happiest were when you were truly in love.  Be remembered for the love you inspire, both in your own heart and in those who care for you.

 





Happy Valentines Week, everyone.












65 comments:

  1. Touching post. . It is apt for the recent times. . It is sickening, the attitude of society towards love and romance. They try to put barriers and walls across such a pure and innocent emotion. Society needs to open up and accept love as it is. .

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    1. It really is sickening. There is no problem thrashing people in love for being immoral, but when these goons are accused of spreading hatred, violence or even murders, then their entire political outfit will rise to defend them, saying they are defending our culture. When did our culture ever stop being about love ?

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  2. Lovely post! AS a kid when I used to see these strips, I would never follow what was written on it most of the time!
    Didn't know there was an amazing story line behind the creation and creators...

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    1. I too never knew the back story till recently. While reading up on an unrelated link, ended up at the cartoon's page and from there the authors. Was amazed at what she went through for her love.

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    1. Loved sharing this story..

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  4. Super post, Roshan! Really did not know this story, so inspiring! As much as I respect the choice to fall in love and to celebrate love, I hate the commercialization of love. Why one day, celebrate love every single day and not only love of your partner but love of your family and children, friends included. Because each love is special and completes us. Nevertheless a great message.

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    1. Oh, I totally agree. There is no reason to limit love to just one day when it is an everyday phenomenon. Also, your sentiment regarding showing love to those who matter : while the majority of the cartoons are based on the couple, there were many featuring love for the child, the parents and grandparents. The focus was always on the emotion.

      Sadly, this message of showing love is considered 'modern' and 'impure', while showing hatred and anger is considered normal. What does it say about our society, I wonder ?

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    2. Agree with Rachna... even love has been commercialized. But its time we stopped scoffing at love birds, or indulging into honour killings and similar stuff.

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    3. The world is going crazy in more ways than one. Yep, why consider a display of love abnormal? Do you think an explosion of social media has made ranting/venting hip? Newspapers and television hardly find happy, positive stories to publish. Everything and everyone seems to be angry!

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    4. Anupama, when you think about it, has any emotion or thing important to us not been commercialized ? Basic health care, religion, love, hatred... everything has become an industry. I just wish people would look beyond the whole show and see whats really important.

      Rachna, you've taken the words out of my mouth. Social media was supposed to be about freedom of speech and bonding, in my mind. Sadly, theres just been too much negativity attached to what goes on around for it. And I really wish any news channel would spend some time huunting and tracking down moments of just random acts of kindness/love/bravery instead of just telling me a scoreboard of who raped whom and who defended which rapist..

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  5. Ohhh this is one of the sweetest posts you've written! I totally loved it :)
    'Someone,somewhere is waiting to fall in love with you' will inspire so many broken hearts. Love heals, makes the world go round and is capable of so much more :)
    Happy Valentines Week to you too! I'm inspired to do a post now.

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    1. Been awhile since there was a romantic post in the blog. Now seemed like the right time.
      And I really do believe that when people are in love, it brings out the best in them. That's why I would have hoped that more and more people would look to break the circle of hatred and promote the feeling.
      Please do give us a Valentines post... we need more happy lovey-dovey posts. Hate-mongers can wait for awhile or switch over to news channels if they want.

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  6. yes. I do remember reading these toons an had loved them.

    And now reading the story of the person behind these toons makes them even more lovable. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. We all would have read them in some small newspaper of magazine... but its when you realise the backstory that you feel the true power behind those simple words. Noone celebrates these tales of loves. Thats why I wanted to showcase it.

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  7. lovely, apt post, Roshan! Didn't know the story behind the cute comic. Truly inspiring. Actually Roshan, the hatred towards love has nothing to do with 'culture'. The truth is that all the 'culture fanatics' out there are intelligent power mongers, who know that love and equality will be the end of many vices - like castism, dowry, dynasty powress and the like!!!

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    1. Right on the money there, Meena. There is a method behind the hatred. We are the fools to believe that these are just local bumpkins trying to act smart.

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  8. Nice post! Had no idea about the background story of this comic!
    The world would be a much better place if people knew to love unconditionally..
    It would be an ideal place if people would mind their own businesses when it seems fit.

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    1. Exactly.. the world would be a better place if such people's stories were highlighted instead of the morons we presently put on political posters.
      Really wanted to highlight this story for the love, the inspiration and the courage in love that the author depicted. Nearly 4 decades ago, mind you !

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  9. A whole new perspective on love and cartoon strips. Entertaining and informative alike.

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    1. Thanks Alka... glad you liked it.

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  10. Loved it, thanks for sharing the story!

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    1. now I wonder why that profile came up but well it's me :P

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    2. got it the first time around :)

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  11. Such a cute post.Hearing about this comic strips for the first time.I'm going to dig in deep about her.Perfect post for this year's valentine's day :)

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    1. Really ? I'm surprised. These cartoon strips appear in most of our regular papers ..well, atleast they used to. :D They're sweet.

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  12. Never knew of the story Roshan. I remember the comic strips though. That was interesting indeed. As far as Valentines Day is concerned, I find it more confusing because its totally commercialized and has been used for vested interests. Businessmen use it for making profits, politicians use it for showing their power / dominance.

    PS: Wonder where the third child is now. Will be very proud of his parents! :)

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    1. Surprised to read so many days this year - chocolate day, teddy day, hug day etc :) Somehow I dont think Teddy Day was around when St Valentine was doing his bit :D

      The third child is all grown up and well and really is proud of his parents story.

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  13. In my opinion.love is something which never need be exhibited.Why?

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    1. We are a nation that takes pride in grand gestures in whatever we do... you can see it in our moments of pride, our celebrations,our movies and our rage. It's only natural that love too be exhibited in grand gestures... I'm only surprised that people arent getting backup dancers and dancing in the streets already, after all these years of being inspired by the movies. :D

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  14. Inara11.2.13

    What a sweet story!

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  15. Wow !! Absolutely loved reading the story behind those cute comic strips. Thank you for sharing it all of us.

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    1. You're welcome.. glad you liked it.

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  16. This is such a beautiful post....very sweet, feels like a post from some other world...thanks for keeping noble emotions alive in your blog, Roshan:)

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    1. Thanks Bhavana... everyone talks of modern day love. Just wanted to show that love has always existed.. its just the courage and interpretation of it that has changed over time.

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  17. Lovely post about love....

    Did you get a chance to check the website www.ezedcal.com/ta to manage editorial calendar easily for your blog and show your editorial calendar in your blog easily (optional)
    Thanks & Regards
    Bensie Dorien.


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  18. Remember all those lovey-dovey posts in my blogs.. I was inspired by the bonding of a very sweet couple... they gave the 'Love is eternal' feeling... and inspired me to write all those posts.. if you would've noticed.. I haven't written much off late .. well the apparently inseparable couple has split... and just while I was wondering how to console my dear friend on Valentines day.. you came right round the corner and saved me :D
    "Someone somewhere is waiting to fall in love with you" daz all I need to tell her and then maybe... I might write a new post :D

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    1. I don't know what's going on. I'm playing agony uncle to a minimum of 5 women whose smoothly sailing journey of love has just collapsed over a year... they're all sweet and kind gems whose vision of perfect and endless love has been compromised by unforeseen events.

      Each person has their own individual pain they are carrying in love - I can only say this. Motivate your friend to believe that in spite of how unlikely it seems now, the best person for her is STILL yet to come.

      At the risk of forcing you to read my blogposts ( which I of course totally DEMAND, by the way !!!! ), revisit the Jungle Parable link below. It was written for just these hearts that ache for a loss they cant come to terms with...still relevant years later. Who knows... maybe you'll find some words that will help heal them.

      http://www.godyears.net/2008/07/jungle-parable.html

      P.S. Accept that irrespective of how cool/brave the person is, the main healer is gonna be TIME. You're gonna have to be there for them, not just as a ear to hear their woes but as a confidante when they need to bitch about the other guy and more importantly, someone to divert their mind ( I dont know - girl's night out, horror movie marathon, kidnapping Shalini .. thats upto you ! )

      P.P.S. Yes, You and Shalini have ditched me, leaving me alone as the only GLAMOUROUS Kannur Chinmayite blogger to deal with the rest of the world !! *cracks knuckles and looks menacingly*

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  19. This is very informative ! The cartoons bring back some vague memories of familiarity but the story defies fairytales ! Nowadays its very rare to find true love. Of course many girls I know, are like private investigators when it comes to love- they find out the money, education and roots of the person and draw graphs of how much he will earn in the future given the current pay scale. I never did that, given mine is a love marriage too. I still dont do that. I do not poke my head into anything that is monetary or expect diamonds on every other occasion. So for people who do so much of calculations, I do not know where love stands in that complex mess. The story above is a reminder of love of those times, how the gift of creativity was used to depict love. By, taking actual effort, and putting time and thoughts into it... it holds more value than the card we design by moving fingers across an ipad.

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    1. It is rare not just for to see such love, but alos the determination to fight for such love. I'm especially disappointed that our country has not moved on in all these years, still allowing these fringe rowdy elements to dictate love to the next generation.

      I've actually witnesses first hand couples where the girl would make a big deal of how every penny he earned was meant for her, leaving him literally bankrupt at the end of every month. She would have a Cheshire cat grin and he would end up borrowing from his friends and family just to survive till the next salary. I found that trait in her absolutely horrible... trust me. There are quite a few like this.
      Its not love... its some deal for the girl that she should be pampered even if it means he has nothing at the end of the month. Anyday, a creative gift made from the heart will count more than these diamonds... for a true heart in love, of course. The girl in question laughed with scorn when such a thought was suggested to her.

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    2. Yes I know such girls too. Gone are the days when the girls tried to understand their men and went great lengths to add to the savings. Really. That doesnt exist now.

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  20. Loved reading the story behind Love is... As kids, we used to cut the Love is... strip everyday and paste it in a scrap book! :)

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    1. They were really cute and simple cartoons... was really enamoured by the story behind it.

      Incidentally, I used to cut and paste Garfields in my childhood... hmmm... didnt realise we had 'cut and paste' back then also ! :D

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  21. I loved the post...have seen the strips around and like them too but never knew the story behind it. Dont know why but I had tears in my eyes by the end of it.....it could be because u wrote it so well:-)).

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    1. I just realised my post too has something abt celebrating love.
      Do u think it's an Aquarius thing;-D???

      And not the least, please accept my Happy Birthday wishes:-))!!!!

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    2. Thanks ... this story touched me too. Especially because I've been seeing this cartoon for all these years but never knew what lay behind it.

      Just saw the post.. hilarious description ..especially of the 'daddy' pic :D

      And well, I dont know if its an Aquarian thing... but fellow Aquarian Nirvana/Meena Bhatnagar too has a love related post on her blog today so...

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  22. Roshan,
    I dont know you, but I got to this article thru a friend. Thanks for sharing it. It feels very good to read such articles... kinda giving hope that love exists in this troublesome world.

    Cheers,
    Smitha

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    1. Thanks Smitha. In a world where people are becoming increasingly intolerant of love and affection, I really felt this was a really inspirational love story which people needed to know ahead of the usual Romeo-Juliet and Heer-Ranjhas

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  23. Good one..
    But even then..practically also..I think it was unnecessary after having 2 kids..
    There should be love without bounds..but not stupidity..My opinion..sorry if I have hurt others feelings

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    1. I don't think practicality has much to do with matters of the heart :)
      From the entire cartoon strips, its clear that this was a woman who thought and lived with her heart overruling her head... I see it as a woman standing up for her love. Money would not have been an issue with the success of the comics, but the travails of being a single mom definitely would have been there.

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  24. :) nice post... luvd it n i wanna say you one thing... read your story "HEARTSTRINGS"... Must say i just love it. You never made Megha embarrassed to have a friend like you instead you made him proud to have a friend.. Really Dr. You just rocked the story and i just felt the emotions while i read through the lines :) expecting more n more from you :) Congratz

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    1. Thank you so much Anjali... feels great to hear that :) Seriously.

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  25. I have seen this strip somewhere, but never knew about this

    And btw, this is the mush-iest post I have read Roshan :D

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    1. Everyone would have seen this strip. but hardly anyone knows the story behind it... infact noone I know is aware of it. Thats why I thought Id showcase it.

      And yes, it kind of muchy reeeeally fast :D

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  26. Awww! This is so pretty! Yes, have seen that comic strip but did not know the tale behind it! By the way, good to meet a published malayalee fiction writer :P Good stuff on www is rare! :/

    Will watch this space more often

    Kindly visit

    www.rinzurajan.blogspot.in

    Thank you

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    1. Thanks Rinzu... nice blog u have there too.. keep writing :D

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  27. This was such a nice read.
    We don't realize it but someone fought against all odds for the things we consider as everyday.
    I was watching 'Lincoln' yesterday and I had goosebumps thinking what would have happened if the 13th ammendment would not have been passed? The nation was so close to destruction.
    Anyways, oming to our own country, we have never respected someone's private space. We have such big noses and we love poking them everywhere. I think the sane population has to break a few to make their point.

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    1. its steadily reaching that breaking point... frankly, despite all the hue n hullaboo, nothing has changed post-Nirbhaya.
      It's all back to the same - rape, kill if not allowed to rape, defend rape allegations by calling a small girl a prostitute.
      for all this, the govt doesnt seem to have a response, but come Valentines day and police literally barricade the park ( hyderabad ) to prevent couples entering... tough country to be sane in

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  28. I had read this post sometime back and was so enthralled that I forgot to comment.

    Roshan, this is one of your best!

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    1. Thank you Purba :) Glad you liked it. I found it a wonderful story and knew it was something not many were aware of , even if we all had read the comics.

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    1. Thank you.. glad you liked it.

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So what do you think ?