Kabir and his wife, Rishta, moved half a world away from their families, to build a life in a new country. While it came with its challenges, RiKa (their couple name) were glad to have found friends who made them feel a little bit at home in the alien country. Of these friends, their closest friends were Rinkle and Parth (or RiPa, as their couple name went). Having made the move to this new country before RiKa, RiPa were kind and generous with the wisdom they had gained from their experience. They were a guiding light for RiKa to navigate the administration and bureaucracy of the new country, like when they were looking for an apartment or buying a car. RiPa steered an occasional escape from the monotony of life in the new country, like when they took RiKa for skiing and sledging to the mountains. And RiPa planned and orchestrated many celebrations from birthdays to anniversaries which RiKa cherished.
But this is not a story about the good times they shared. This is a story about a dilemma that a single rose presented.
Until recently, the fourteenth day of the second month each year presented an opportunity to declare one’s love. While traditionally, in a religion that’s alien to many, the day was marked to honour martyrs named Valentine, over time it became a cultural and commercial celebration of love across a large part of the world and was popularised as Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day presented a chance for the young and adolescent to find the courage to proclaim their love. While noble, because courage is hardly an easy to find commodity, the day became quite problematic as well when it descended into an anxiety fuelling tradition. With pimples bursting out as if to protest against their childlike tenderness and to stake a claim on their adulthood, these non-children, not-yet-adults often found themselves feeling the pressure to find a partner for the day. A stigma came to be associated with being single on the day that stealthily, and unfortunately, seeped into the society. Customs of counter-celebrating the day as singles sprung up in some pockets, but could do little to withstand the relentless waves of the majority opinion.
I used to wonder back then, how did the Valentines felt about their legacy of dying for a cause ending up this way. Did they turn in their graves?