Four determining decades and twenty-six days later exactly where I stand today as I celebrated my birthday last month, love is no more a silly, sloppy, tear-jerking, saccharine coated cat-and-mouse-chase mush to me. Love to me now is more than ‘I LOVE YOU’. I wish I had this realisation much before, but we all heard at some point of time that life is all about the journey or the voyage.
It is that time of the year again when Valentine’s Day comes knocking at your door and the internet is flooded with ‘Eight red carpet lipstick hues to inspire your Valentine’s Day beauty’ to ’50 genius Valentine’s Day gifts’ kind. And the brouhaha continues in every platform of social media. Though it serves some, I am somehow anguished at this commercialisation of Valentine’s Day depicting crass consumerism in the name of love.

Love is a powerful powerful emotion and a conscious mindful force but we often manifest it so nonchalantly. We are shaped and processed to an extent by those we love. The greatest gift one can have today in any relationship is not just that you are loved, but loved in spite of being who you are. Pain is inevitable for all of us, so is heartache/hurt in the gamut of relationships. Even if we don’t want to and subconsciously try not to, we do get affected by people and things happening around us. How can we not be?

Few days back, two teachers were arrested in the case of a four-year-old being molested at GD Birla Centre for Education school in Kolkata. A month passed and an eight-month-old baby girl was raped allegedly by her cousin in our very national capital. This distressing case of assault on an infant shook entire India again and made national headline. The crude and frighteningly brutal nature of these acts had us reeling in shock and disgust at our inability to prevent such sickening crimes at any measure. Is this the newest low after Nirbhaya? I don’t know neither any one of us. But this led me to a recent article based on a study to understand social prejudices against women, children and Dalits in India which was being published in the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW). One of the study shows 53.22% of children who participated in this government survey reported some form of sexual abuse. It is plain scary.

I am a mom to a nine year old. My heart skips a beat and sinks to the bottommost of pith on what’s going on? I fear for his safety like many other moms. I plea to my son multiple times to stay alert or cautious whenever he steps out, be it for school or a game of cricket in the apartment complex. I don’t know if I am bringing him up over guarded or restrained but the situation demands me to. Even with well-framed laws but the lacunae in implementation and the paltry conviction rates which makes my credible want for a safe inclusive society a distant reality. What hurts me more prima facie, every damn thing is filtered through the prism of intolerance and will ultimately lead to religion or politics in one way or other. Be it a work of art in form of a movie (my apologies I am not going to spell the name of the movie one more thousandth time and thank you for guessing it) or what we wear or eat, trolling is the new uber-cool trend.

Where does it spring from? Is it some kind of collective bad blood, bitterness or insecurity? Or is it hate – the opposite of love? We humans are bunch of crazy contradictions. Every time we take a step forward, we are pulled two steps down with certain instances of savagery, dogmatism or bigotry. Of course we all are self-centred, but the question one need to ask is to what extent or at what penalty! At the end of it we see what we want to see. Believe it or not, like all good things are difficult to achieve and bad things are easy to get; equally I guess it is easier to hate and difficult to love!

Like a festering wound, hatred is corrosive to a person as well to a nation. It blocks our very basic capacity to feel love or act humanly. Like many of us around while growing up, I too for quite sometime was in love with the ‘idea of love’. I used to hold intelligent, successful people in high esteem and regard; now growing older, I admire positive and kinder ones more. The simple fact is we do need successful people, but the need for better humans is due and should be the prerogative now .

Saying so, how can I not like a day that at its purest form was conceptualised to celebrate love. Keeping gifts and goodies aside, it is the perfect day to accept, absorb, heal and affirm the relationships that we value in our life which includes your own self too. On this Valentine’s Day rather I am going to ask myself few pertinent questions:
Did I let go of my bitterness or resentment?

Did I forgive someone expecting nothing in return?

Did I bring a hearty smile to someone?

Finally, Did I love to the truest?

While some thousand kilometres away Meghan Markle makes a fairy tale out of her life and some of us snuggle up in a couch with our partners watching ‘When Harry met Sally’ or ‘DDLJ’ on this Valentine’s Day, and yet some others give a hoot about it terming the day as some goofy gimmick, I have decided. I have decided to stick to love not to hate and more so not to deny my humanity, but embrace it.