Karachi 2010: ‘Teen Talwar’ can be spotted a few metres away and it’s a cool February evening as we drive across the city of lights towards my dad’s place. At a signal, a young man comes to the car and presents us big, beautiful bouquets of red roses. I pull down the window. I notice that the roses have glitter on them and that he also has bags of heart shaped balloons. “Le lain, Sir. Bhabi ka dil rakh lien. Aaj Valentine ki raat hai, Sir,” (Buy it, Sir. Don’t disappoint your wife on Valentine’s)
I ogle at the guy and wonder if he knows anything at all about my love life. Romance and flowers don’t happen nearly as often as I would like but I can’t understand it – suddenly, ‘love is in the air’ just because it’s the fourteenth of February? Why? I know the husband and I agree on that and I wait patiently for him to pull up my window from the driver’s side and we drive off with the flower-boy disgusted that we wasted his time.
We walk inside a book store some time later to look at what’s new, and maybe pick up some writing books for the girls. All I can find is sappy displays of hearts and teddy bears and over-the-top wrapping papers claiming “Oh! How I loves you!” in that grammar. A huge area of the store is dedicated only to cards and I find some of them sweet and romantic, some overdramatic, and some are plain cheesy. I shake my head in wonder at all the ‘love in the air’.
I know I can be cynical at times, but I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why Valentine’s Day is such a big deal. Why do people suddenly fall in love all over again just because the calendar says so? Why is it so significant? The only people who really gain some benefit are the retailers who chalk up prices and make sizeable profits by selling silly stuff to moony-eyed couples, who gladly oblige. Take one look at Park Towers, Arte, Kids or any such place and you’ll see what I’m saying.
Karachi is a place where you’ve got to be cool, where you are judged by the way you dress, or what you drive, where you live, where you eat, and if you belong to the oh-so-posh clubs. I suppose a lot of young people get into relationships, smoke, have booze, make out and give Valentine’s day mementos just to appear cool and fashionable. I can safely say that I have never been either, much to the mortification of my family and friends.
So what is Valentine’s day all about anyway? I’m sure you’ve read the St. Valentine story that he was a martyr and the day was named after him. Well, peace be upon the martyr – but I’m afraid I’m still not buying the hubby anything. The awesome Garmin Nuvi GPS is just gonna have to wait until I feel so overwhelmed with emotion that I actually buy it out of love. Love that is created because of whatever happens between us, not because of what date it is.