Dastaan-e-Darab

February 14 is celebrated the world over as ‘Mush Day’, also known as the Feast of Saint Valentine Valentine’s Day or more popularly, simply, Valentine’s Day. It celebrates one of the noblest of all the human emotions and virtues – Love. Indeed a foul-word, but so sweet, so noble. Soft to hear, neither gross nor invective like the expletive of similar length that are more commonly used and accepted nowadays. Some of the greatest works of art and literature are based on Love. Some of the most beautiful musical pieces, songs, arias, sonatas and great oeuvres have been inspired by love. Bollywood seems to thrive only on the theme of love.  Romeo and Juliet, Bejan and Manijeh, Khosrow  Shirin, (also called Shirin Farhad), Baiju Bawrah, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, Cleopatra and Mark Antony and the famous gangster duo, Bonny and Clyde, are perhaps the more famous love stories in the world.

Here are some immortal, but not oft quoted, love quotes from famous writers…

“True love is a durable fire, In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never dead, never cold, From itself never turning.” (Shakespeare)

“Love is my religion – I could die for it.”(John Keats)

 “The sunlight claps the earth, and the moonbeams kiss the sea;

What are all these kissings worth, if thou kiss not me?”  (Shelley)

My all-time favourite by Sir Richard Lovelace,

“If I have freedom in my love, And in my soul am free,

 Angels alone that soar above, Enjoy such liberty.”

Did you know, that 14 February and its significance can be found in the little known 14th century classic ‘The Parliament of Foule’ by Geoffrey Chaucer, better known for his epic, The Canturbury Tales? The tradition of linking romance to 14 February originated with a mention of a belief in the classic that birds begin to mate with the advent of the spring on 14th February, ever year!

Valentine’s Day has become an industry by itself. Numerous greetings cards are sold every year, their sale is second only to those during Christmas and New Year. Restaurants, jewelers, gift shops, all do flourishing trade on this day! It is rather strange that a 14th century English poet has influenced so many people all over the world.

At this juncture I remembered the lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the actor in me could not help but to start reciting them aloud….

The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt…

And this is when I heard my wife calling out, “Darabsha, my Sickspeare, Aapro special divas chhe, Kai vichar kidhoch ke as usual kai bhi nahi.” And what followed… became the ‘Dastaan-e-Darab’

“Darling Darabsha,” Quoth she,
This loving alliteration, she useth but rarely for me.
“Why now,” asked I, “art thou so full of love,
That thou art cooing like a turtle dove?
Do Tell me now, O.. umm.. apple of my eye,
What babblest thou, I know not why!”
“Mare-re Dalu Dear, it’s the time of the year
When we confess our love all loud and clear!”
Upon hearing thus a chill ran down my spine,
Something evil is a-brewing in this other half of mine.
“Darling Darab, this year let’s wend our way,
To aapru Taj, on this Valentine’s Day”.

Relieved to hear this request steep,
Though t’will cost me a bomb, I agreed without a peep.
“But then thou shalt go down and on thy knee,
To confess thy love to me.”
“What, before the crème-de-la-crème that gather there,
Must I lay my soul open, lay it bare!?”
Tauntingly she retaliated, “Are you man or mouse,
Or just cowardly custard of a louse?”
Haughtily I made an offer she couldn’t refuse,
Stunned she was ‘pon hearing the news,
“I’ll buy you that solitaire – big like bafelu eedu,
And leave me alone happily after, now will that do?”
“Will do, will do, this eedu will do!
The hyperbolic, glittering bafelu eedu!
And so, Dastaan-e-Darab now ends,
Confirming diamonds are a woman’s best friends!

I’ve got reprieve for one more year,
What scary schemes she’ll dream in 2019 I fear.
But then, through thick and thin,
My dearest wife and I have been,
And so, I say on Valentine’s Day,
“A solitaire is but a small price to pay!”

Dara M Khodaiji
Dara M Khodaiji

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