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A V-Day selfie

So what’s your plan for the day after Valentine’s?

brunch Updated: Feb 10, 2018 22:47 IST
Rehana Munir
Valentine’s Day, the Hallmark-founded festival of romance, is here
Valentine’s Day, the Hallmark-founded festival of romance, is here(Parth Garg)

It’s that time of the year – everyone’s in love. Or at least cares enough to look it. The Hallmark-founded festival of romance. Cupid-propelled season of sighs. Bollywood-fuelled day of desire. Couples spewing couplets, balloons soaring around them as they dance deliriously. Facebook flooded with fancy staycations and cosy check-ins. Tinder thundering with desperate pleas of passion. Sudden proposals. Surprise holidays. It’s Yashraj meets Disneyland, diamonds meet cupcakes. First world meets uber first world. All a bit – much.

The day after V-Day

You’re probably used to these sour put-downs of V-Day, citing consumerism and sentimentality as the culprits. And are bored by them. So let’s for a moment assume that beneath these layers of pretty pink things lies genuine emotion. That once you’re done with the wine and dine, woo and charm, there’s a person standing in front of you who’s pretty much won over. What then? I’m so much more interested in the day after V-Day.

Much of our love lives are lived in this nondescript day after V-Day. But all we ever talk and think about are the breathless moments of the chase. The thrill of a flirtatious text. Mood-lifting banter. Secret smiles. A nudge of the elbow. Laughter spilling into conversation. And so, to bed, if the stars align and logistics consent. But any long-term relationship outlives these early days of risqué chatter and easy coupling. That’s when anecdote and advertising steps in, introducing us to those twin engines that transport us to permanent romantic bliss – retail and real estate. Sounds downright unromantic to me.


What, then, is it really like, the day after V-Day? It’s the day we get out of our gowns and ties, our borrowed phrases and store-bought gestures. When we’re not expected to be beautiful or charming, nor are we hurrying to meet restaurant reservations. It’s when we share leftovers in bed, fighting over what show to watch. Or laughing wickedly at friends’ social media feeds. We all do these regular things. In fact we do them a lot. But we’re trained to treat them as fillers to be ignored. Until we realise we live in these fillers. It’s that other “special” stuff that’s the aberration.

“Happiness is oversold in our culture,” said an irritatingly wise friend to me once. I’d extend that sentiment to romantic love. It’s sold to us as the missing piece in life. And even when we have it, it’s meant to check socially approved boxes. Break any of these norms – gender, class, caste – and what you have on your hands is a battle between the love you feel but which others fail to understand. And yet, ever since we became human, we’ve been breaking norms for reasons of passion. It’s what’s propelled us forward as a species and made us better lovers.

Love after love

Luckily, underneath the hype, there’s enough of the real stuff going around that we can all recognise, and not because we saw it in an ad. I’ve seen it in hospital corridors and kitchen corners. Expressed it in playful gestures and doting looks. Silly endearments and mock fights. It’s everywhere. It’s love without the make-up on. Love that forgot to make a fancy booking. A love to whom it didn’t occur to celebrate itself, because it was celebrating its object.

I too seem to have slipped into sentimentality, taking a wholly different route. Oh damn. Before I embarrass myself further, I’ll slyly hand things over to the recently departed Caribbean poet Derek Walcott. In his famous poem Love After Love, he’s captured a delicate sentiment beautifully. Sort of like a V-Day selfie, if he’ll excuse my millennial analogy.

Love After Love

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your

own mirror,

and each will smile at the

other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from

the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from

the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

From HT Brunch, February 11, 2018

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