That thing called love

That thing called love

Chocolates and roses, cuddles and kisses. Is that what love means to everyone? No, says  Rachna Bisht-Rawat after interacting with a cross section of people.

What would a single girl in her forties with Mr Right nowhere in sight have to do with Valentine’s Day? Ask graphic designer and artist Richa Verma this and she laughs in your face. “Why wouldn’t she? It’s a beautiful day for me. It’s a day to celebrate love”. 

That’s the day the effervescent bacheolerette doesn’t forget to give her mom a hug, she buys herself flowers or a book she’s been wanting to read for a while, texts her best friends with men in their lives some naughty wishes and goes out with someone special for a film or a dinner date.  “It’s a day I keep aside to celebrate relationships that are special to me.”

While Richa is hatching her Valentine day plans, elsewhere in the same planet, pre-teen Isha is drawing glittery hearts and colouring them pink on a secret card meant for her parents; newly wed Deepak is planning to surprise his young wife by a dream stop at Venice in their Europe trip while for Deepti, who has been married for 14 years, it is just another day because she believes love is less about showing and more about knowing how much the other person cares for you. Valentine’s Day means different things to different people.

“If you’re in love, everyday is Valentine’s Day,” says Sunil Rawat, tall, good-looking single. Training manager with a retail MNC, Sunil believes the expression of love changes with time, while its meaning remains the same. “When you are young being in love might mean doing something exciting together, having fun, freaking out; when older it might mean enjoying each other’s company and taking care of each other. At the heart of it love is understanding the other person and respecting their likes and dislikes,” he says.

For Shailaja Ranjan, Delhi based HR consultant, February 14 is one day when he remembers to bring flowers home for his wife and chocolates for his little daughter. “They are special to me every day but on Valentine’s Day there is a conscious thought that gets translated into action.”

That, he feels, assumes special significance in a world that is getting increasingly materialistic. “People use relationships to get ahead in life; they pick friends who might help them achieve certain ambitions or get something they desire. In an environment like this, Valentine’s Day is one day when we celebrate love for people we want around us because they make our life more beautiful and not because we want anything else from them,” says Shailaja. For him it is also a day to remember all the people who have been special in his life.

It brings a flood of memories. He remembers with affection a girl he gave a card to the first time in his life on Valentine’s Day when he was 23. “That was a long time back, when I was in my first job. I liked her and gave a card to her. She smiled and took it, and I still remember that smile though the relationship never went further than that,” he laughs.

Friendly and gregarious Tina and the quieter Col Anurag Vohra celebrate their  silver marriage anniversary next month. Bangalore-based Tina found love when this tall, dark and handsome Army officer walked into her life 25 years back. “It was never the same again,” she smiles. The years of being together have been a roller-coaster ride, she admits. There have been many ups and downs but the ride has been thrilling. “I think you fall in and out of love with your spouse many times and every time you go through a difficult phase, you re-discover something new.”

Anurag wants just two things from her — she should be a lady on the street and a best friend to him. She, in turn, wants only two things back — “love and understand me and never betray my trust”. “A marriage lasts only when the two people in it never want to get divorced at the same time,” she quips.

The two of them don’t plan doing anything special for Valentine’s Day, just use it as a date and try and spend more time together. She is not much impressed by what GenX is doing to love. “It’s a kind of speed love that they are into. They want the works, speed date, blind date, Facebook date and a big hullabaloo is made out of Valentine’s Day with clubs, pubs, even schools becoming a part of it.”

Shailaja also worries about the kind of unhealthy pressure the whole Valentine Day marketing blitzkrieg is creating on young minds. “Love has become a sales gimmick and I sense a desperation in young people to have that someone special in their life because that’s how Valentine’s Day is being sold to them. It leads to a feeling of inadequacy in those who don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend,” he says.

The five star dinners and dances and dates, designer watches, diamond jewellery discounts, foreign holiday coupons and other Valentine Day gimmicks are setting a price on a priceless emotion. Love can’t be bought or sold but in your face aggressive marketing to a vulnerable age group is making it a commodity. It is taking an entire generation away from what love is actually all about, he feels.

Microbiologist Deepti Pareek agrees. She says age and 14 years of being married to Puneet, a practical, dependable, responsible commercial pilot have taught her a few things about love. Valentine’s Day is not such a big deal for her. “It doesn’t really mean much to me. If I get a gift it’s nice, if I don’t that’s alright too. It meant more to me when I was 20 and looking for material expressions of love. You look forward to the red roses, the cards, the gifts.

When you get older you start realising that that doesn’t essentially equate with love. Anyone can get you flowers and gifts but love is so much more than that. I might crib that my husband forgot or he didn’t get me anything but I don’t really mean it. After 14 years of being in a relationship, it is now not so much about showing but about knowing that he’s there and he’ll do anything for me,” she says.
 
Different people. Different opinions. So what is Valentine’s Day — cheap marketing gimmick; or a day to celebrate love?  Some believe in one, others in the other. No wonder then that while some celebrate it with a bunch of red roses and a chocolate cake, others with a smile and a hug. And still others by just getting along with the business of life knowing that someone somewhere cares about them. 

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