Every year on Valentine’s Day, our young wannabe netas gird up their loins to champion the cause of Hindutva in order to tackle a western menace!
Saffron clad comrades leave no stone…or…‘bush’ unturned to ‘ambush’ lovers professing their love - reading billet-doux, exchanging gifts and what not!
Well, Valentine’s Day is the only day when I envy everyone around me, especially those ‘all brawn no brain’ guys (that’s what I like to think!) who zoom past on their bikes with pretty young things holding a big bouquet of flowers and a giant teddy (God, please make me a teddy bear in my next birth!).
From my PG days, I still remember the hauntingly desolate classrooms on Valentine Days. It seemed as if the whole college was in love, except those horn-rimmed grey-haired professors and me.
On Valentine’s Day, if not in classroom, I would rush to Central Reference Library and start reading a book just to be free from my nerd-like Prufrock-ian existence that was hell bent on making me realise how alone I was! Once in the library, to my horror, it was all empty! Alas, not a single soul could be seen except the relic-like librarian and his staff. I looked upwards toward the leaky roof of the library and said ‘God, not a single eye candy for this battered soul!’
Cursing myself and taking a corner seat, I would start flipping the pages of my course book- making up my mind not to leave the room before I finished the entire novel. (Well, I had no option as there was an hour’s break in the next lecture.)
Suddenly, I remembered that I was carrying few overdue library books that had to be returned to my college. I decided to step out from the dingy library to my college– Hans Raj.
While going to the college, I made up my mind to take the shortest route, thereby avoiding any direct confrontation with any lovebirds. So, I cut short and entered the D-School, where I stood before Kirori Mal College. Well, call it providence or my karma which wanted me to be a part of the DU ‘Raas-lila’, throughout my foot-bound journey to Hans Raj, I had to watch lovebirds openly displaying their affinity.
Sulking with self pity and a bit of disgust, I tried to ignore whatever I saw and started walking faster. Once into the college, I darted towards the library situated near the famous lover’s point, a hangout zone that is always full of gorgeous damsels as if a deluge of sylvan nymphs has descended Earth only to my chagrin!
Being in no position to face another dose of embarrassment, I hurriedly went to the library; returned the books while getting some of them re-issued. While coming out from the back gate of the college, my eyes fell on the by lanes of Kamla Nagar –a heaven for DU’s love struck couples on every 14th February.
“Well, what if I don’t have a girlfriend, can’t I enjoy myself still?” – said the Bad Angel in me while the Good Angel quipped back and asked me to return to the class (for a moment I became one of the characters of Medieval Biblical miracle and morality plays!).
Well, with my testosterone levels high on cupid’s favourite day, I let the Bad Angel lead my way. (Believe me, at this point of time, the agony of ecstasy would have been as intense as that of my old friend Faustus who sold his soul to the devil!).
I took a quick round of the market while savouring my naïve scopophilic gaze and dashed back to my class after thoroughly satisfying my ego.
The class was a routine ‘affair’ (though I seriously dislike this word here). While making notes in the otherwise boring lecture, I thought what a royal waste of the day, it would have been much better if I took an off from university and spent time at home (of course I could have finish that novel anyway!).
Classes were over at 2:30pm and it was time to call it a day. I left the class for home but not until my share of agony was full till up to the brim. On my way to the university bus stop near the International Students Hostel, I felt as if I was one of the mythical protagonists Odysseus who, on a voyage, has to sail carefully from the Sirens and the Cyclops. Well, in my case, I had to cross Miranda House and SGTB Khalsa College.
While making my way towards the busy bus stand, I sincerely tried not to look around; but given my ill-omened luck, I again encountered a bunch of exceptionally beautiful pixies. Hell, shame grew stronger and I was taking big steps only to be stopped in a jam like situation in the last leg of my last hurdle, i.e. Khalsa College where vehicles covered the entire road. To my astonishment, a battery of lovers was on the street, strewn with laughter, hugs, chocolates, roses and cards. Adding to this celestial celebration of love, mushy romantic numbers of Bryan Adams were being played.
For me, it was my worst nightmare; I was numb, all cold as if there was no blood.
I gathered all my strength and crossed my last hurdle with alacrity, while taking the next bus home.
In the night, I had a comfortable sleep after a day of trial and tribulations. The next morning when I saw the papers, to my horror, I saw reports of shops selling V-Day goodies being vandalized and ransacked in parts of Mumbai, Nasik, Madhya Pradesh, Jalandhar, Bhopal and Varanasi while debunking it as a western concept. Well, this episode took place two years ago and still continues to cast its shadow over every Valentine’s Day.
In the shadow of the incident, I felt that when Indian culture is so great that it can embrace the whole world; these petty politicians and their goons wish to thwart love by branding it as ‘foreign’!
Well, two years down the line, nothing much has changed; earlier if it was Shiva Sena presently it is Sri Ram Sena – fashioning themselves as the custodians of Hindu culture and bashing pub visiting females and issuing diktats to curb western menace of Valentine’s Day.
Whenever I hear stories about moral policing and cultural scavengers trying to purify our society from western influence with force, the only thought that passes my mind is when will we grow up as humans? Are we not mature enough to decide about our lives and preferences? Is celebrating love oblivious to Hinduism? Is celebrating love a crime?
Let’s not become Janus-faced hypocrites and come out from this straightjacket of conservatism. Indian culture can never be disgraced by celebrating love. True love is beyond religion, caste and creed; it is too big to be bound by the manacles of sham pretence. Let’s not become so obsessed with Indian-ness and be a bit more generous while celebrating love for the sake of love! Cheers for the cupid…