“What is this Valentine day?” She asked me pronouncing valentine as ‘vaa-len-tee-nay’ as she removed her thick glasses.
“Oh..no, no, no!” I said. “It is not pronounced vaa-len-tee-nay, it is valentine rhyming with swine.”
“I don’t care whether it is swine or twine. Did I ask you how the word is pronounced? I asked you what that day is all about.” She said.
“Ok, ok. Hmmm… Well, Valentine’s Day is the day to express romantic love. They send greeting cards to their ‘valentine.’
“You mean they wait for Valentine’s Day to express their romantic love? I can’t understand this at all!’ She almost shouted, stirring the curry.
“You won’t understand it darling,” I said, “we belong to a different generation.”
“But there was no such thing called Valentine’s Day when we were in school and college. How did it start?” She said in a surprising tone.
“It was good that there was no Valentine’s Day when we were young. You would have received a dozen Valentine Day Cards. You used to look so pretty then! And that asshole friend would have tricked you in marrying him then. It was good that your dad intervened.”
“Don’t be jealous! And you are not in your teens, but in your tees, sixty, or sixty-one. You don’t have to be afraid of him anymore. Don’t talk about it now……Hmmm… I see your point; we belonged to a different generation. By the way, who was Valentine? He must have been some roman hero.”
“He was a Christian priest. A Saint.”
“That must be wrong. Saints are not associated with romantic love. Your memory is failing; your age is catching up now I think.” She said. The rice cooker shrieked a whistle.
“Look at that, the pressure is building up.” I warned her and continued, “Claudius, the Roman king ordered his execution, but before his execution he cured the jailor’s daughter of blindness. It was a miracle. He sent her a note before his execution, expressing his love for her and signing it ‘From Your Valentine.’”
“Straight out of Bollywood movie I think. Are you sure of the facts?”
“Darling, truth is stranger than fiction.”
“It is good that our children are not around when you call me darling. I think the young people are travelling abroad for jobs so often now, they must have caught on this idea of Valentine’s Day.”
“Cross-Culture pollination it must be.” I said.
“You mean cross border marriages are opening up minds to such ideas?”
“Marriage is fast becoming a thing of the past darling, now it is just ‘relationship. It is ‘Stay-in relationship.’”
“Really? I think a Stay-in relationship is a Stay-out-of-marriage relationship. I do not like this idea of Stay-in relationship.”
“Think of it logically, it is not such a bad idea.” I said hesitatingly.
“Oh, Shut up. I now understand why the Thackerays are so vociferously opposing Valentine’s Day.” She said.
“Why? I mean I could not get you.”
“They must be saying that romantic love must be expressed every day and not just on the Valentine’s Day so that it does not remain just a ‘relationship’ but culminates in a total commitment, becomes a proper marriage.” She said as she poured tadka over her curry. “Do you get me?”
“Yes darling” I said coughing as I inhaled the pungent fumes of tadka.