"What a marketing ploy these ‘special days’ are! Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Friendship day and Valentines Day,” Vivek mused as he impulsively bought a balloon for his wife Reshma.
It wasn’t a teensy expression of love but a sheepish attempt at pleading forgiveness, for having worked late again. It was the eve of Valentine’s Day. Small kiosks at the station were selling merchandise like soft toys, flowers, balloons and T-shirts.
He glanced at his watch while boarding the train. It read 10.45 p.m, 13th February. By the time he rang the doorbell, it would be Valentine’s Day. He hoped the wife would forgive him after reading the fine print on the balloon, “Happy Valentine’s Day”.
As the train heaved out, a girl ran along and jumped on to the compartment and stopped next to him, breathless. As their eyes locked, Vivek, conscious of appearing a sight with the balloon in his hand, was further embarrassed when she checked him out. “How cute,” she gasped.
There was something delightful about her voice, which was accentuated by her kohl-lined eyes, smooth skin and beautiful round face. “You chose a blue coloured balloon. Blue symbolises transparency and emotional integrity. You don’t hide anything from her, do you?’’
Her attempt at being over-familiar did not offend Vivek, because there were grains of truth in it. “What hogwash? How can colours reflect one’s emotional states?” he muttered, desperately trying to recall the name of the brand of perfume she was wearing.
“What is your favourite colour?” she asked. The sparsely filled compartment gave their conversation an impetus, as he figured that no one could see this threesome — he, the girl and the blue balloon. “Black,” he replied,” anticipating a grave dissection of his personality.
“Black symbolises sinister streaks, mood swings and extreme temperament. But you are lying. Your favourite colour is white, isn’t it?’’
Just then the balloon moved towards her. She gently pushed it away and moved her face close to his. “White signifies a silent lover, hidden urges and someone who’s extremely playful.”
Suddenly, she planted a kiss on his lips while her hands grasped him in an awkward embrace, feeling him animatedly through rapid short strokes from the shoulders to his back, gently squeezing his behind!
With his office bag in one hand and the balloon in the other, he offered zero resistance. Suddenly the train stopped and she withdrew from the embrace, muttering, “Sorry, too much love talk around, couldn’t resist.” Anyway, here’s my station.’’ She alighted briskly.
Although dumbfounded at this encounter, he was still trying to recall her brand of perfume, which he was wearing too now! From the platform, she called out, “Hey, thanks. I needed this.”
Vivek was aghast. His sense of euphoria evaporated as he saw his wallet in her hand. The train started moving.
“Hey, for the record, my favourite colour is green, the color of money and deception! Happy Valentines Day, anyway,” she yelled, as the train gathered speed.
There was a loud bang. The balloon, which was drifting towards the overhead fan, burst. Vivek panicked because he had no money to buy another gift. And how would he explain this strong feminine fragrance to his wife?