Have you ever seen a group of new born puppies? You would’ve, definitely. Those cute little creatures are apples of the eyes of all those around them and draw many an ‘Awws’ from the feminine counterparts of simple hard working beings like me. But amidst all the mind numbing and breath taking coyness and playfulness of these wonderful creations, those with a discernible eye wouldn’t fail to notice one or two of the kind who would be distant geographically and emotionally from the rest. They would be alone, toying with a piece of cloth, or digging with an eagerness fit for goldmine workers, or just lying down basking in the sun, snapping at any incoming flies. An empathic heart would definitely go out for them and wonder what all went wrong up there.
Come the valentine week, and this phenomenon is mirrored in the human society where people like me are by and large left stranded, unable to fend for themselves, and unfit and unwanted in any socially acceptable human congregations, apart from other similarly ill-fated individuals. They say love is in the air and in this week it definitely is. And that air percolates into all the possible and impossible of places, be it restaurants, clubs, metros, parks and even government offices, sports grounds and grocery stores. And as a result, blighted individuals like us are left with no place to hide our faces and mourn except our god forsaken houses and rooms in groups of twos and threes. And in this tragic hour of our lives, where doubts about our very existence creep into our minds more often than not, solace is sought in each others’ wretchedness, loneliness and frustration. The silver lining of course is that you are never alone. Wherever you are, whosoever you are, you’ll always have company. Thronging the bunkers would be people of different dispositions- friends, family and acquaintances. One wouldn’t have to be a seer to conclude that in terms of likes and dislikes, needs and wants, beliefs and superstitions, they would be poles apart from each other, but look closely and you shall see all bound with the thread of negligence, desperation and, in some cases, resignation.
But any discourse into this discussion isn’t complete without going through the state of minds of these individuals chronologically. Come end of January and there is a small ripple somewhere- a casual chat between couples, or a dorm room discussion. Nothing noticeable of course. While the diligent boyfriends have started preparing for the upcoming 7 day annual fest, their single friends would be mocking them, making jokes at their expense.
Some would even be silently hopeful that this valentine won’t be spent alone, and somehow, some one would pop out of nowhere and make this week a blessing in disguise. As the first week of February passes on, preparations would be proceeding at lightning fast pace, the marketplace would be abuzz with plethora of expectant faces, gifts and ideas. Shopkeepers definitely make hay while the sun shines. There is an excitement and it is up for grabs. While some bask in glory, others start creeping away from the mainstream, lurking in the shadows, waiting for the impending doom. With no one to turn to in particular, they look upon fellow sufferers with a newfound empathy, sympathy and belongingness.
But the real predicament starts from 7th February. These knights of valor, already a bit shaken, step out of their holy abodes with a cautious glance and an unsteady foot. As they proceed to their preferred means of public transport, the uncharacteristic gaiety in young people, romantic congregations both candid and clandestine and even the look on the expectant faces of the victors sap on their life blood like blood thirsty vampires. Mobile games are their only consolation and they plunge into them headlong, trying to stay oblivious of the depressing surroundings, but in vain. By the end of the day, they have succumbed to the pressure, fall on their knees and pray to the love god for forgiveness and to have mercy on their souls. They promise in the name of all their loved ones to “get themselves into a relationship” somehow before next year. They also promise not to make fun of their committed friends and be more respectful to girls.
The next day is no better, and neither is that following thereafter. Every day is an ongoing battle between their outward stern countenance and the savages of the week. And every day they lose a bit more. They switch over to private transportation, but are caught unaware at their workplaces. They play Angry Birds but their phone’s battery rats them out. They try to setup a rendezvous with a known creature of the opposite gender, but last minute emergencies wreak havoc on their plans. They go for a movie with friends but learn the hard way that places such as movie theaters are not safe haven during the week. At last not being able to muster any more courage, they decide to stay back in their temples of bachelordom with other inmates, counting days after days on their fingers. Come the 14th February, and there is an eerie silence prevailing over the place. Everyone tries to put up a brave face, not for praises, but in a fraternal spirit for the sake of their brethrens. As social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are replete with romantic endevours, adventures and pleasant experiences; any satellite communication to and fro the sanctuary is essentially limited to multiplayer gaming and essential family phone calls.
But as dawn transforms into dusk, a faint glimmer of hope is visible. People start laughing at jokes more freely than before; the window drapes are drawn up, some audacious ones even step out for fresh air. They thank their gods for granting them salvation, post happy remarks all over their Facebook profiles and make preparations to welcome the newfound freedom amid much fanfare and celebratory gunshots. The curse of the Valentine week is lifted and the horrors conquered, at last!