The morning of February Fourteenth dawned clear and bright. For many it was a very special day but for me, it was just another day.
I was supposed to wake up early in the morning because I had to study as my exams are approaching. I hate waking up early. The only time I am enthusiastic about waking up early is when we begin our annual family trip. My dad likes to start off early and reach our destination before nightfall. We, as a family hate travelling at night. A little quirk of ours.
So back to my day. Mom woke me really early and sent me off to take a bath. She always hopes that a bath will help me stay awake as water will supposedly wash away any lingering drowsiness. A vain hope as warm water makes me feel even more drowsy. As I came out, a cup of steaming hot coffee was ready on our dining table. My mom is a sweetheart that way. Whenever I wake up early, she stays awake with me. Even when I pull an all nighter, she sleeps in my room, waking up occasionally to make coffee for me or maybe hear me rant about how things are not going as I had planned them.
The rest of the day, I spent studying. We went out for a coffee that evening. Me, my mom and dad. All around us we saw supposedly happy couples walking hand in hand, out on a date, hugging and smiling. I remember seeing a couple looking thoroughly happy and very much in love. They did not look like they were older than thirteen or fourteen years of age. I wondered what did they know about love?
The fact that Valentine’s Day is just another normal day for me has stopped bothering me long time back. Earlier on, in my teens to be precise, I used to hope that maybe next Valentine’s Day would bring that someone special in my life. Even I would go out on a date. Even I would be able to flaunt gifts which that someone special will give me, the way most of my friends did.
Once I entered college, it was especially very hard for me. Initial three years were especially difficult for me. All around me I would see people fall in and out of love. Relationships were like corridors. You enter from one end and exit from the other. No one lingers around in corridors. And the worst part was, most of them were in relationships for status. It was prestigious to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Like they were not human beings but some possession to be proudly displayed. The way you would proudly flaunt your latest iPhone or your newly bought Jimmy Choo shoes, girlfriends and boyfriends were flaunted.
Then there was peer pressure. Even if you were not interested in someone, it was must to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Because if you didn’t have one you were THE weird one. In some extreme cases, people without partners were called gay. So people got into relationships just to prove that they were not gay.
Once you were landed up with a partner, then would come the comparisons. Whose partner is better looking? Whose partner gave them more expensive gifts? Whose partner took them out to more fancy places and so on….
All of this was exactly opposite of what I thought about love and relationships. For me any relationship, romantic or otherwise is a life long commitment. Once you get into it, you do anything and everything to make sure it works. And expect the other person to do the same thing. I would get laughed at for having such views. ‘That kind of thinking is for when you get older, for serious relationships. Not for time pass ones!’ ‘ You are too young to think of having a serious relationship.’ ‘ Don’t act like a prim and proper behenji’ (Behenji is a term used in a derogatory manner to denote unfashionable, uncool, housewifey sort of girl)
It took me around two years to realise that my thoughts did not match with my peers thoughts. And I if want to avoid getting teased, bullied and have anyone and everyone advice to “get” a boyfriend, I had better keep my mouth shut. But there were times when I would wish that I was like a normal teenager, someone who did not think about the consequences and just lived in the moment. But I guess I was not cut out for that kind of lifestyle. Having grown up with very conservative values, and by conservative I don’t mean regressive or backward, just good old old-fashioned values regarding family, love, relationships and being accountable for one’s actions I knew, I was going to be a misfit amongst my peers.
So it stopped bothering me after a while. Now if anyone asks me about my love life, I give “I don’t believe in love and all that crap” kind of an answer which closes the topic once and for all. My tone is firm enough that no one tries to convince me otherwise.
So after an extraordinarily ordinary Valentine’s Day 2017, fifteenth of February was another ordinary day. I had no idea that one incident would make it extraordinary. I had gone out on that day. While returning home I suddenly had an intense craving for cake. So I stopped by a cake shop. There is florist right outside the cake shop. As I was stepping out of the cake shop, I noticed a rickshaw come to a halt in front of the florist’s shop. There was an old couple sitting inside that rickshaw.
The old man got down from the rickshaw. The woman’s hand was in plaster and they had a bag with them. It seems they were just returning from some hospital. The old woman said something, but the old man, it appeared, did not hear her. He went to the florist and bought a huge bunch of red roses and had him wrap it in a decorative paper.
By now a few people had noticed this and they were all watching the proceedings with amused expressions. The old man went back to the rickshaw and presented the bunch of roses to his wife. She was blushing deeply. She began to protest but he said, ‘ You were in hospital yesterday so I couldn’t get anything for you. So I thought why not celebrate Valentines Day today?’
And they both went off. While returning home I couldn’t get rid of that scene from my mind. I thought that is what true love is. The care, the concern, the love that the old man had for his wife was evident from his actions. And that is what I would want any day.