Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day...

"Where are you off to?" He asked.

"Umm...No where in particular, Dada. Just going to meet a friend" She replied

"What's her name? Where does she stay?"

"She stays close by. Near New Market."

"Come back soon. I told you I don't want you loitering outside today. It's a big day for our party. Workers will be active all over the state. I don't want you to get hurt"

"What nonsense. I will just tell them my brother works for the Party. Then they won't harm me right?"

"Aarti, you know very well that a mob doesn't listen"

"Dada, I really don't agree with what you all are doing anyway. What's the problem with celebrating the day? It's just one more occasion for happiness. A day to express your love for everyone. Not just the boyfriend-girlfriend thing"

"It's not in our culture Aarti. People just take the name of that Christian saint and use it to corrupt the youth. Have you read up on the history of this day? Do you know what things people do under the garb of celebrating? So many innocent girls get trapped. We have to end this nonsense once and for all. At whatever cost."

"Ohh, so spreading love is not in our culture, but beating people and molesting women is? I don't agree, Dada. You want to know where I am going? I am going to get a present for my Valentine"

"Aarti! How dare you? I will skin you alive? Who's that b------?"

"What language! That too in front of your younger sister? He's a guy I have known and loved since childhood. And I won't let you stop me"

"Aarti, stop I say!"

He ran after her but she was too fast for him.

"Just you come back, girl. I wont leave you alive"

He came back into the room and plonked himself on the sofa.

The hours passed. He was getting updates practically every minute on the news channels.

"In Mangalore today, some girls and boys partying in a pub..."

"...and then were made to tie rakhis despite protesting their innocence"

 "...Commissioner has assured that law and order will be upheld..."

"Women must learn to behave decently in public..."

"....against our culture..."

"...being ruined by westernization"

" used as a guise for conversions..."

Suddenly, while flipping, one of the channels caught his attention. He quickly switched back to that channel.

"In a shocking incident, a young girl was set on fire by an angry mob allegedly belonging to the --- in Amravati. The party is known to be amongst the most virulent protesters against..."

He switched off the TV and dialled a number. No response.

"Ho, Saaheb. Mee TV var baghitlo. Ti mulgi Goverment hospital madhe aahe. Mee baghun yeto" (Yes Sir, I saw in on TV. The girl is in the Government hospital. I will go and check). He hurried outside.

Beads of cold sweat were forming on his forehead as he headed near the ICU of the hospital. A ward boy tried to stop him, but he brushed him aside.

His mind had not prepared for the sight beyond. A burnt figure, swathed in bandages lay on the bed. The figure looked at him with a questioning glance. There as a gleam of recognition in it's eyes. Murmuring something which he didn't hear, the figure breathed its last.

His fingers were trembling. He saw a charred paper in the corpse's hands and pulled it out. It was a greeting card. On it was written

"My sweetest Dada,

I dedicate this day to you, my Valentine, the person I admire and love the most. The world is too small and life is too short for us to spread hatred and violence. Let us all learn to live in peace and harmony.
                                                                                                                                        Your loving sister,

The ward boy was knocking frantically on the superintendent's door.

"Sir, please come outside; There's a man in the ICU who's not responding at all. He's just sitting still like a stone..."

Outside, cries of victory could be heard

"Videshi  tyohaar baaher kara, Maharashtrechi laaj vaachva" (Discard foreign festivals, preserve Maharashtra's modesty)

"Jai Maharashtra!"


  1. I hope this is not a true incident...and someone needs to go through this extreme route to understand their lack of foresight.

    I feel this is a classic case where people are not able to differential between greedy political agendas and true problems.

  2. I think it is a well written script to explain a message which certainly some human minds do not comprehend. World would be such a happier place if one understands what bad they do to others can happen to them as well. As you one sow so shall you reap !!!

  3. Touching..
    Should not be true..

    saddest part is the people who should realize this are not going read this..

  4. Very well written!

    As much as these incidents have angered me over the years, the fact remained that there were a substantial chunk of population who shared this 'ruining our culture' feeling (even some members of my extended family). A classic case of finding a scape goat to deal with their anxieties of a rapidly changing society; manifest an illusion of control.

    But as with so many phenomena in the past, I somehow felt that Valentines Day will sooner or later be subsumed in our culture, perhaps acquiring an unique Indian connotation. At the least, it will start becoming more 'normal'. A process that may be long drawn out but which has already started. A case in point: HT article

  5. Thanks Ameya! Very interesting link...Perhaps some good may come out of it!