V-Day – The D-Day!

It’s the most longed for day, it’s the most dreaded of days. It’s the day sans wisdom, a personification of foolishness, a day of great contradictions. The day of….. “Darabsha! Stop rambling and get to the point!” That’s Madam Editor, “Sorry Madam, tukku and pointed, eh! Right-o!” My apologies to Dickens too.

Soon it will be 14th February – St. Valentine’s Day – the day all women look forward to with great eagerness! When it comes to men, there’s those, especially under twenty-five, who work hard if employed… much harder if unemployed… and even harder if in school or college. Celebrating V-Day costs moolah. He’d need a Queen’s ransom to buy his lady-love a gift, far beyond his means. One will have to sell his soul to the devil to somehow get few bucks for what would be a ‘great gift’. But is that gift always appreciated?

I was fortunate to have a liberal pop – it was easy getting a few bucks off him. Then again, that was six decades ago and ‘liberal’ meant about five rupees! Mom, on the other hand, believed in, ‘spare a buck and spoil the child’. Any appeal to her maternal generosity would be met with a firm nolle prosequi (Parsi equivalent of ‘nunno vasvo’).

If one wanted to go overboard celebrating V-Day, one had to start saving at least four months in advance! Decades ago, it was Rs.5/- for a few roses or a large slab of Chocolate; and around Rs.25/- for movie tickets (balcony), snacks and cab fare. A wallet fattened with assorted currency notes and coins worth Rs. 50/- would slim down quicker than the Bollywood actresses on a crash diet. Even then, the recipient was rarely satisfied completely. In return you might just might get a peck on the cheek (supposed to pass off as a kiss) and a rose. And if you were stupid enough to preserve that rose, pressed in one of your grandpa’s old books, with a tag detailing the name of your then current lady love, this would be a folly too… when your better half went through your library a few years later! And that would mark the onset of the domestic equivalent of the Spanish inquisition!

So it was then. So it is now. Today, the erstwhile Rs. 50/- would need to be escorted by a couple of more zeros, for a similar jamboree with a young lady. To a much-married bloke with a Ruby anniversary behind him, the demands made are more bizarre or astronomical. Brrrrrr! Chills run down my spine – I get goose pimples when 14th Feb nears! It begins when Rattimai starts serving huge gobs of popatjis or extra-large helpings of cheese-cake at teatime. Come the pre-prandial happy hour, dry masala liver or dry-fruit-rich akoori-on-toast and other goodies find their way by the side of my huge easy chair. To quote the line from Mary Poppins, one would think, “Ah, Lordly is the life I lead!” Nothing doing.  No lord, marquis! Not even a humble knight. No! This is the lamb being fattened for slaughter!!!

I shudder to think of the time when Rattie wanted me to take her to the Taj for a dinner-dance. All well and good, even though I have two left feet and am no Fred Astair. There was a rider to her simple romantic suggestion. Midway through the Blue Danube Waltz, she wanted me to get down on my knees and declare my love for her. Very strong men like Gen. Patton might have done it. Maybe Marquis de Sade too; but no, not I! I finally got out of this predicament by buying her a solitaire ring that she had been pestering me about, for nearly four decades.

Then there was the time Rattie got it into her head that I should dress up like Romeo and enact the balcony scene with her! Imagine my name would have been mud had I succumbed to Rattie’s sadistic suggestion. This year too, she would have come up with something equally soul destroying and mind-boggling, but providence came to my rescue. The colony’s Kootla-Committee had decided to go on an all-ladies trip to Karela. The committee’s secretary, an elderly lady, was supposed to make all the travel arrangements. She noted that Hormazd Roj falling on 12th Feb, was an auspicious day to start their sojurn. The air tickets and all the other ensuing arrangements were made for the 12th. Cancellation would incur a big loss and so our Valentine-eager Rattie, and ditto friends, will be celebrating the occasion two days after landing in the God’s Own Country and away from their hubbies! Us boys at the club have chalked out our vacation too – beginning our festivities on the V-Day having jointly arranged to send a huge bouquet of flowers and a massive box of chocolates.

I love my Rattie. She has been my Valentine since two years of courting and forty-three years of marriage. I would do anything on my own for her, but I refuse to go down in the annals of my colony as the V-Day clown because some namby-pamby guy had done it in the Mills and Boone books she is addicted to reading!

Dara M Khodaiji
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