Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 8, 2007

By The Girl Next Door

Age: One foot in the grave
Status: Tchakafied

And yet here I am, defending Valentine's Day, when one would expect me to be drowning my sorrows by burning paper hearts with fellow members of the Lonely Hearts Club. Go figure. For now, however, I have a bone to pick with all those cynics out there who have been picketing against this event. Here are some of the most common Valentine peeves.

#1 Why have a separate day to celebrate love?
Why not? I mean, you know you get older with every passing year, but birthdays are still special, right? Similarly, you can be in love in a hundred imaginative, spontaneous ways throughout the year, but setting aside a special day for some extra loving can't be a bad way to keep things spicy. What better day than February 14, at the beginning of spring, when the weather's crisp and fresh, and the flowers are beginning to bloom, the birds are singing, the air is charged with the spirit of young love?

#2 Valentine's Day is just a conspiracy cooked up by florists and gift/card companies to con lovestruck fools out of their hard-earned money.
Hey, if you're fool enough to go splurge on some tacky oversized pink teddy bear or sparkly card overflowing with bad poetry, that's your problem. Last time I checked, there wasn't an eleventh commandment saying 'Thou shalt spend all thine cash on thine beloved." In other words, you don't have to go on a buying spree on V-day gifts any more than you have to shell out Tk 2 lakhs for some overdone Eid outfit you won't have anyplace to wear at. If you're in a relationship for more than material reasons, then you can easily find some more spontaneous, creative and meaningful way to express your undying devotion for your sweetie. Got a dulcet voice? Serenade your sweetheart with his/her favourite love song. Witty with words? Pen down some wacky, fun lyrics that will make that special someone laugh out loud. Use your talents and put your heart into it, and you'll find your beloved and your wallet both smiling back at you.

#3 The TV channels are all flooded with stupid mushy movies
Personally, I'm not averse to the odd mushy movie, but if they're not your cup of tea, it's a perfect excuse to practise not being a couch potato. Need I remind you that the weather outside is bound to be perfect for some outdoorsy exploit? Switch off the offending telly-tube and head out for some fresh air and good spring fun.

#4 It's not much fun to see couples celebrate when you're single.
I feel you. I really do. All those happy twosomes floating in sappy bliss when you're sitting there all alone, wallowing in self-pity. Get a life! Valentine's Day is about celebrating love, so if you're not tied down to a significant other, take matters into your own hands and go spread some love amongst those who need it. Take a cake and gifts down to the nearest orphanage and let this special day have some significance to those worse off than you.

#5 Stupid couples make fools of themselves in public
I'm surprised this even came up as a peeve. What is wrong with you people? Heat up that popcorn, lean back, and enjoy the freak show. In fact, gather some like-minded, sensible friends, and enjoy the free entertainment together. You can decide amongst yourself who looks sillier; the couple in matching red-and-black Banglalink-striped shirts (Wonderland park, 2006), or the pair on the rickshaw, holding hands, each sporting a garland of marigolds hanging from the neck, and a paper tiara/crown with 'Shubho Bhalobasha Dibosh' splayed across (DU area, 2006). Got a camera handy? You're bound to come up with enough material for a hilarious music video.

Seriously, Valentine's Day isn't half the ordeal some spoilsports make it out to be. Lighten up, live a little and love a little! To all those lovebirds out there, have a super February 14, but please go easy on the PDA. To all the lonely hearts out there, don't worry...as Travis puts it, love will come through...it's just waiting for you. Happy Valentine's Day to all the RS readers!

By Anika

She carried on walking, running, sprinting- controlling her desire to look back, to turn back her life.

If only the nuisance that was time could be slapped, punished for its mischievous behavior; if only its meddlesome two hands could be wrenchedbackstretched like a plastic rag doll. If only it didn't force two people to meet- to melt, mould and merge two completely different lives into one beautiful dream.

Yet, if the illusion of that dream had not been cast years ago, then she would not be where was now- finally awake in a blue cocoon.

She suddenly stopped.
Out of breath.
Out of luck.

A slender body slid onto a wooden bench as swollen eyes drooped with fatigue. They acknowledged the surroundings a muted blur, smudged with hollow laughter and empty smiles. So many people went past her, behind her- through her. She observed with a bitter smirk, the fellow travelers on the journey to Life.

A blind walk through an empty maze shrouded in promise, lit with hope. Grasping anything in our way for support, we often stumble upon The Other. Another whose hand we hold, draining their courage to construct a compass that will lead us away from the lonely road to enlightenment. Her father held her mother's hand tight, fearing that his Other would find a worthier craftsman.

Noha Chachi had given that present. The wooden box engraved with a leaf motif, glistening with varnish had been proudly gifted to her with deep dimples on both cheeks. Drunk with curiosity, Pandora had unwittingly twisted the silver pivot to unleash Misery. Its cruel appearance pleased her; two round moondrops as translucent as water flashed at her shyly.

'Your Ma wore them when your Abba first saw her', Chachi had said, pleased at her niece's naivety. After all it was her right to inherit this treasure. She had breathed for eight whole years without ever being taught to, could braid her hair neatly into a French plait and had successful endured the tyrant teacher's taunts for 3 whole years running. She was a grown up.

Six years later, all she could remember from the 'grown up' birthday was their looks.

Ammu's timid chocolate eyes.
The nervous twitch of her thin lips.
Abba's penetrating glare.
The disdainful curl of his mouth.

The night after, Ammu had wrapped herself up like a present in a slinky saree. Impatient to be one of the first ones at the elusive Raichand party, she had ironed Abba's sturdy, olive suit herself. With her daughter behind her carrying the heavy suit, the study room's door was opened with blind expectation, and through her mother's transparent saree, she saw her father hidden behind a book. Ammu's silent plea echoing, turned the next page of the book.

Her husband slowly looked up and gave his beautiful wife a blank reply that she accepted with a defeated nod. They understood each other perfectly, even without words.

Then the late nights started, and the I Am Stuck At A Meeting phone calls rang throughout the house like sweet church bells. Deafened by its noise, A Little Girl Lost was too afraid to ask for an explanation till her friends confirmed the hard facts. She liked red but he liked green. Some feelings do not last a lifetime. Eager to start coloring the rainbow, they compromised on violet. Hope cannot be a strategy.

But she was older now- wiser, taller. The situation had to be accepted for it could not be unwoven into something new. Their lives were intertwined, cross-stitched flat into a grand tapestry, and not one of them could cut off a thread without the bigger picture unraveling. And of course the scissor was simply not sharp enough.

Sometimes Frustration demanded a decision. Sometimes the chandelier was turned on, shattering their faces into a brilliant spectrum. As she put the pieces back together, there was always one missing. In a rage she screamed questions and slowly drew the answer. They had the piece, but it just did not fit. They were simply not meant for each other.

Her mother, she had discovered this morning, was destined for a tousled haired man in an unbuttoned maroon shirt. A color far from green.



home | The Daily Star Home

2007 The Daily Star