By Sonya Rehman
It was that time of the year again. The very much-awaited and anticipated Valentines Day. Gag. Choke. Gasp. Retch. Yes, my little ones it was a day when past relationships were to be raked up by Bridget Jones’ all over the country sitting on their bums and eating themselves sick as an old soppy number played in the background giving rise to sweet and joyful thoughts of kicking some ex-boyfriend butt. But oh, the birds still twittered outside and the sun shone just about right – not too harsh and not too light.
I was jolted out of bed, disrupting a wonderful dream where I ran around the margallas with Jude Law as he did the bhangra with my dupatta (no, I’m kidding) to the shrill, panicked bells of my phone flying off the hook. Diving across the room like cat woman (yeah yeah), I had snatched up the receiver and yelled out a ‘hello’. “Why! Why me Sonya whyyyyyyyy! Oh the shame!” “And a jolly good morning”, I said, “to you too Narissa” as I had plonked back down on the rear end of the bed and groaned. Narissa had just come out of a tumultuous relationship and I being the mother-hen-solver-of-all-problems-aunt-agony-extraordinaire had the pleasure of listening to her raves and her rants about a certain someone who had an issue with commitment after five years of playing ‘house house’. After calming my girlfriend down and promising to rub his tongue with sand paper the next time our paths met, I had hung up the phone whilst she stuck pins (in places too inappropriate to mention) into a voodoo doll (no, I’m kidding). And that, is how, my day had started.
I’ve never really understood why Valentine’s Day is such a big issue really and please don’t label me as a stick-in-the-mud but I honestly believe there are other ways in which couples could show their appreciation for one another. Valentine’s Day in Pakistan makes love look so cheesy what with those big desi teddy bears holding up hearts with messages such as ‘all 4 u’, ‘be my sweetheart’ and ‘u r my dear’ plastered all over them owing to insomnia due to nightmares the night before of teddy’s heaving around your bedroom with sharp little daggers shrieking ‘be mine, mine, MINE!’ Not funny! Then again, maybe I am being too harsh but don’t you think we all go a little (understatement) overboard when it comes to ‘celebrating’ this sweet (toothache) and merry occasion?
I remember way back during my school days the kids would set up fake ‘jails’ so that you could get your crush locked up for a couple of hours till they bailed themselves out. Talk about a whole lotta love! Now since this is a very balanced article I’ll quit the Valentine bashing for a bit, and take this opportunity to tell you about this interesting conversation that I had the chance of overhearing at someone’s house the other day about whether or not V-day should be celebrated or not. The oldies shook their heads in disapproval and said that it was extremely shameful as it bred way too much modernity for comfort. One Aunty piped up, “I think”; said she putting her index finger to her chin and scratching it thoughtfully, “it’s terrible as it makes other children who aren’t in relationships, want it desperately all due to peer pressure.” “Yes it’s absolutely appalling”, said an Uncle and then stating passionately, “the West has invaded us I tell you!” And there far in the distance their children sat glued to a 29-inch screen watching B4U with Indian models getting jiggy with it to a racy number in the rain and that too dressed all in white. The hypocrisy of it all makes me want to scream really, is it fashionable to sit around and grouse about the influx of other cultures seeping into ours? When we ourselves take pleasure in mirroring them? Funny little shallow bunch we are don’t you think?
Ali, a friend of mine, wittily coined V-day as Valium Time’s day (thus the name for this article) and yes he too is single – cradling the shards of whatever is left of his heart after a very painful break-up. It’s weird though; I realized a majority of the people I knew were single this time around…maybe fat old Cupid was getting slack on the job. So anyway, my 14th came and went like any other day and I realized I had substituted my social life for my new puppy – who I’d like to think of as a cotton fluff with attitude and a tail. I realized then, that being involved with someone is not a ‘fad’. Your boyfriend/partner is not a fashion accessory that you can whip out of your purse like your favourite stick of lip-gloss you know? Later on in the evening Narissa called again, but this time sounding sober and much more in control and right then, in the midst of our conversation I remembered what a famous woman’s liberationist had once said: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”. I told Narissa and she laughed. Valentine’s Day, for her, didn’t seem so bad after all.
Sunday, Daily Times