Valentine's Day

2006 - I remember ‘celebrating’ my first Valentine’s Day with my best friend A, and her elder sister – our MD. We never believed in love per se but what the heck.Of course, we were always broke, research scholars that we were. MD always bailed us out. The Horticulture Deptt of our home state put up a stupendous rose and strawberry show and live music by a very old band at our favourite All Saints’ Hall. Old and young, married and unmarried but much in love – pride and happiness at the homegrown Dutch roses and the strawberry spread, again home-grown. We decided not to go restaurant-hopping since we would be ‘disqualified’ for all ‘couple’ benefits. MD bought us a box of strawberries each and the roses came for free. Those were the days, my friend.

2 years later, when I met him and I told A, she was the happiest but she said she’d travel to my part of the world to approve/disapprove after meeting ‘the love’. She was not disappointed. And, the Valentine’s Days that followed were forgettable. We simply did not believe in that one day, found it too yo! And we were definitely not part of the cappuccino crowd. You can imagine the kind of gifts I got from him– a hammer and a tool-kit when I was moving house, or a global travel adapter or a fish-net for my aquarium – yes, very practical ones, nothing remotely romantic.

And, last year, when the elders decided to solemnize our engagement, the pandit chose a day we had been disdainfully laughing our heads off all this while – 14th Feb’11. Umm..well, the pandit informed us helpfully that it was ‘shubh’ to help preserve love in a marriage. After the ‘sagai’, we were packed off in the evening to go enjoy dinner and the works and come back home early. We were officially ‘a couple’.

This year, ‘the love’ who is husband now tells me on Monday that he has a surprise for me. He promised to be home by 5 in the evening.The surprise was he didn’t come home till 12 in the night.

14th Feb this year, he took a day off for me. We had a bad idli-sambar breakfast at home. I made it up with nice sambar-rice with papad and dahi in the afternoon and, ice-cream. Slept like logs. Washed and cleaned the house. He fumbled around saying he left something in the car and needed to get them. I can’t tell you how wow the surprise was – a stunning blue Kanjeevaram. By the way, I was not yet over my Sunday thrill when he gifted me a lovely silk sari, just my kinds type. We went to the temple where I first offered to play city tour-guide to him 3 years ago. That is another hilarious story. Another time.

Then, off we went to our favourite Green Bay bakery for our evening round of snacks and tea, this is close to my old workplace. And I was nervous when he asked me to buy whatever came to my mind at the jeweller’s. I told him I am not used to such things. And, he said reassuringly, we have a lifetime to get used to such things. It was a gulp moment for me. When we left the jeweller’s, I was sporting a lovely pair of ‘baalis’. Glee! We landed at our favourite restaurant – and well, another awkward moment there. At the entrance, the restaurant staff ‘instructed’ hubby dear to pick up a rose and hand it to me. We were like okay!

As we were ruminating over the years gone by, we realized how time flies so fast. So many things have happened and so many are in the pipeline. We smiled as more couples with and without children in tow of all ages poured in for their evening celebrations. As we were leaving, we saw the waiting lounge – young and old, in their finest finery.

So, what goes around comes around. Both of us shed our cynicism and agreed we cannot put away this date – love is love but we still don’t and won’t belong to the cappuccino crowd and no mush, yes, no mush. We rounded off the day with a sumptuous 'meetha paan' which resembled a cone ice-cream. So much for Valentine’s day.
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