Friday, February 14, 2014

The Love Letter

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“Even if someone wishes to forget this day, he will never be able to”, I said to myself as I glanced through the various pages of the newspaper which were covered with advertisements of the oncoming Valentine’s Day. Special gifts, offers, discounts and related news made the task easier for people who either had run out of ideas or time to mark the day. Love articles and some news write-ups of a few cultural groups protesting against the day of love filled the remaining space. Though the newspaper resembled an advertiser’s paradise, it helped by giving a break from the ‘Sauna Belt’ and ‘Height Plus’ advertisements that featured on other days. Also love stories made for a far better read than articles on murder, theft and this country going nowhere. 

Husbands would be happier if reminders of their anniversaries could also be flashed in the newspapers. Not necessarily to celebrate the love that existed between them and their spouses (if there was any left) but more importantly to avoid the All India Radio-type sermons and uncalled for expense on gifts which had to be bought as damage control in case they forgot, I wondered. 

Personally speaking, I hated Valentine’s Day. Not because of any other reason but because to celebrate it you had to be in a relationship and have the prerequisite – a Valentine. I was single and wasn’t in one. And because I wasn’t, the heartburn was more. I would love to be in one but thanks to my work schedule I hardly had time for myself, having time for another was way out of the question. I was happy being single but not on Valentine’s Day. Seeing so many couples around sharing warm moments together, the heart, as irritating it can get, cites a need for someone. The heartache then transcends into something way bigger that’s easier felt than explained. Hence, all these years I locked myself up in a room with no access to the internet, TV, radio, newspapers or any other modes of communication so the day just passed by without my heart knowing about it.

My thoughts were broken when I saw my train chug into the station, that too when there were still two minutes for the train to arrive as per the display. Caught off guard and not having much time left, I folded the newspaper and rolled it up. To keep it safe, I held it between my thumb and index finger as I reached for the door beating a few hundred passengers who expressed greater interest in catching the same already crowded local as me. Irrespective of  the capacity, ‘find a place and fill it’ has always been the mantra in India. We never shy of it and live by example. We can proudly claim that we can fill any mode of transport to at least three times its capacity with ease. On some days, we beat our own record. In addition to carrying people way beyond capacity, the local trains in Bombay have this special state-of-the-art system for picking up and alighting passengers. The beauty of this system is it works best during peak hours. All you need to do is position yourself near the door. The rest is taken care of, all thanks to the system made up of the ever-in-a-hurry people who will do anything to get in or off the train. 

As I made another successful entry into the train and continued a dream run so as to say I chose to head to the seats on my right instead of the left. Activating my mental radar, I began the search for a seat to sit. But along with the seats I observed my fellow passengers as well. 

Man is a complex animal. No matter how much you study him, it’s never enough. In fact, he will continue to throw surprises. The more you study him the more amazed you shall be. As a pastime, I’ve always enjoyed observing people - the way they think, behave, act, and talk. Animals learn a lot merely by observing. That’s so correct in the case of humans too.

A trio of college boys were around who seemed more interested in their virtual mobile world than the real one they lived in. They kept passing around a BlackBerry phone...

Read the complete story in State of the Heart.
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