I’m pretty sure I and my old buddies didn’t know about Valentine’s Day during our schooldays. It doesn’t mean we were among the good guys, only our general knowledge was weak. In those pre-internet days, I think even the love birds of our hometown were also ignorant about the blessing and the strong affectionate wishing of this particular day.
After I joined Engineering College, the situation remained the same, even though my general knowledge improved a bit, but joy of Valentine’s Day was ocean’s apart. That was the time when this day of love was becoming more and more popular in India. So popular that some political organizations started to take advantage out of it by picking couple from the parks, and then insult them, harass them, all in the name of so called Bhartiya Sanskriti (for the sake of Indian culture). I remember one occasion when few of my college friends gathered under a tree to display their Valentine’s Day protest with paper banners and placards. Well, their intention was simply to tease some of the college love birds and to have some fun. Anyways, it was quite an entertainment to watch their protest.
The story was completely different after I met Anjali. I got to know Valentine’s Day more closely and deeply. I was in my 8th semester. It was yet another Valentine’s Day. I and Anjali visited Guwahati Kalakshetra. It is a cultural institution to promote the art in Assam. The place is close to nature with lot of open space to walk around. It has got neat and clean beautiful gardens. Kalakshetra has a museum which reserves old traditional things of various tribes of Northeast. There is also a beautiful art gallery and an open theater. People can enjoy live performances by various artists out there.
We were strolling around Kalakshetra. It was cold and foggy. I think it even rained for a while. Anjali always used to carry her fancy umbrella. We were not among the couples who held each other’s arms while they walk. The passage through the garden turned slippery. The trees looked beautiful. Water droplets on the leaves. It was green all around. Lovely weather. Great feeling. And then all of a sudden Anjali was down. She slipped. I laughed. Her clothes got dirty with mud. I gave her my hand. She stood up. She didn’t say thank you. Instead she shouted at me.
"You stupid. I fell down so badly and you’re laughing. Why you didn’t hold me when I slipped?"
I was totally stunned. "How the hell I know she’s going to fall?”
“You slipped so fast. I didn’t get any time to react,” I tried to be more defensive. But still the argument continued for quite some time.
It has been fifteen years, and all throughout her shouting never stopped. And for me, nothing changed much either, even today I prefer to play defensive.
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