Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Valentine

It’s the month of February! Pleasant winter, budget time, pre – exam jitter times for students, wikileaks news, cricket world cup, scams galore, liberation from dictatorship and a display of people power and more. The whole world seems to have got into the New Year with a bang. Looks like this year will go down in history for various reasons-some good and some not so good.
There’s been so much anger, despair amongst Indians in general as news of scam after scam tested our tolerance, turned us more cynical day by day.
Amidst all these right in the middle of the month falls Valentine’s Day. In spite of the way this year began and more because of the way the year began, probably this year’s Valentine’s Day was a welcome breath of fresh air. It was a time to revoke back pleasant thoughts, think of chocolates, red roses and quiet dinners. Probably that’s the reason the Ram Sainiks and Shiv Sainiks also let the day go by without their (in) famous interruptions!
I would like to share my experience and memory of Valentine’s Day in, my life.

Let me take you all on a flash back trip to 1985-

Coming from a moderately conservative family, when a girl turned 22 it was time for parents to throw the net out and start fishing for suitable ‘bhakras’ ( read groom) for their daughters. My parents were no different. In an arranged marriage, the pressure of finding the right groom (read bhakra) for their ‘homely’ daughter fell on my poor parents. Even the most dignified and respected people like my parents took to lying through their teeth. If you have to market your product then all the means resorted to were alright as long as the end was achieved.

This homely girl overnight became a tall, fair (?), creative (?), good looking (?), adjusting girl (?) who was a great cook too (?)When I was pleased at my parents choice of words to describe me they immediately dampened by spirit with.” Oh! A few lies are forgiven and required in these situations!”
Then finally came the most important event in an arranged marriage- 'Girl Seeing'.
Boy came with his parents, sister and a 1-1/2yr old nephew who was constantly wailing.
My mother’s job was to cook the best items that were her specialties-one of them being Gajar ka Halwa. My father’s job was to subtly but definitely get some information about the boy and gauge if he was as good as his parents vouched him to be ( clean habits and no vices at all- they had vouched). My grandparents had to just be around and prod the unsuspecting:"boy's parents"  about their family.. My sisters’ job was to serve coffee and snacks, not giggle and also give me feelers on the boy. I just had to sit there dumbly and answer to questions posed by my later to be mother- in- law. One important question she asked was” Could I sing?” And not heeding to my father’s glare that seemed to tell me,’ to answer discretely (read-lie! lie! lie!) ‘I said an emphatic –No! but was discrete enough to refrain myself from saying," But I can very well make your son dance to my tunes!”
After all these hungama my father magnanimously allowed the boy and girl to have a heart to heart talk in the room adjacent to the hall for a whole of 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes my loud mouthed grandmother barged into the room and popped the question,” So now that you know her do you approve of the girl?”

I think scared if he would have to face the wrath of my grandmother, he just nodded-.yes.

He jokingly says he is still paying the price for the delicious gajar ka halwa.
This was a preamble to the kind of romantic life we were to lead. Later on in our lives when the Valentine’s Day mania caught on in India, I tried to leave not so subtle messages to remind him of the day but he somehow refused to take the hint at all. Years have rolled by-25 years to be precise but my valentine has not changed at all.
I have come to terms with this now and realize that many more valentines’ days may come but my valentine will always remain the same and I have learnt to appreciate him for what he is rather than what the popular notion of a valentine should be!
To the younger generation of today- remember to appreciate the long time good qualities of your partner and not get stuck on trivialities of a single day!

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