Of falling in love. Of breaking up.

It’s Valentine’s Day. 

My housemate’s ex-partner sent her a surprise in an email. They’re almost 9000 miles from each other, and at 8 pm her time, 4 am his, he called to say hello to her and their child. They haven’t lived together in years, and yet their affection for each other hasn’t changed an ounce.

In a different part of town, a friend prepared herself for the conversation with her boyfriend of four years. Not the one about marriage and kids and becoming soccer mom of the year, but about the chasm that’d always existed between them and how bandaid fixes are no longer holding things together. The day after Valentine’s Day, they’ll break up. It’ll hurt him and test her emotional capacity, but she’s determined—they want different things.

Back in India, my best friend from work has gone out for lunch at Burger King with colleagues. She’ll go home to her toddler son, and together they’ll call her husband, now working in the US, over Skype. It took them almost nine years to come out to their parents as an inter-racial couple. As with all Indian families, drama ensued, was overcome, and they had a lovely wedding almost two years ago.

When we think of V Day, we often focus on the falling in love aspect of it. Of being sleepless and restless and going up the Space Needle, only to find your soulmate there, just as sleepless, and just as reckless. No one talks about the pain that comes with choosing the wrong person, losing the right person, or the immense heartache associated with subsisting in a confounding relationship—being with the person who drains your energy without you even knowing it.

Until this year, for me, Valentine’s Day was that odd day of the year when everyone went loopy, wore black to boycott celebrations, treating it as humbug. I stand corrected. Over the last year, I’ve seen more couples, in varying stages of maturity, approaching this day and the entire concept of love in a myriad of views. Love is all-encompassing—and no two people have the same experience or perspective. It’s time we stopped stereotyping V Day.

Love yo’self

Self-love training. Pfft.

Don’t they know forcing it only invokes hatred? Like mother did.

A few days ago, I came across a challenge—write a story about love in 14 words. Since half the world is celebrating Valentine’s Day today, thought I might post it here. What 14-word love stories can you come up with?

What becomes of the broken-hearted

broken heartedWe’ve all faced it before, but still forget how easy it is to break your heart again and again.

I’ve had so many heartbreaks.

When I was five passing through the fancy store, longing to make that expensive cloth doll my own.

When I walked into school for the first time, and my neighbour had longer, darker hair than mine.

When my class teacher punctured my ego, knocking points off for my hasty handwriting.

When my mother denied me a fifth slice of cake.

When my father wouldn’t sign my report card because of a few failures, and I had to face detention in school.

When I opened my laptop for the first time in a new job and it didn’t boot.

When I realized my colleagues have moved on and I was still getting coffee.

When I stole my brother’s wallet only to find bills in there.

When I had to endure the funeral of my favourite teacher.

They all flash before my eyes when I play this song in my headset.

“What becomes of the broken-hearted… who had love that’s now departed?”

And I realize: We’ll be fine.

Alone on Holidays


I might be late to talk about being alone for the holidays, but I just felt it.

I’m not one who needs someone by her side to feel wanted, or important, or significant.

I’m fine with watching The Abominable Bride alone on a Friday night. I’m happy with watching Friends with my Sunday brunch. And it never mattered to me that the Friday was Christmas, or the Sunday was Valentines Day. Because for me, they are just holidays.

But as I saw my friends, colleagues, and almost everyone else I know go home for the holidays, or ride to the city of alcohol to celebrate New Year’s Eve, I felt strange.

Strange — not lonely. I will never accept I’m lonely when I’m alone. I know the difference between the two and revere personal space. I wasn’t lonely, but I felt so “ungrown-up.”

Everyone I knew wanted to spend time with their spouses, children, and parents. When did everyone around me grow up so fast?

Now that I think of it, almost all of my acquaintances and friends are couples. They are either already married with kids on the way, or are just about to get married.

As for the single ones I know, they are too generous to barmaids to grow up.

Wondering about the strangeness of it all, I realized the people who went home to their spouses and kids at 6pm are the same ones who once accompanied me when I pulled an all-nighter. They were the first to volunteer to stay back and clean up after a party, they were the ones who’d take up customer calls from a different time zone and conduct midnight webinars. And now, by 6 pm, they’re gone from the office.

But I’m still here. And I still feel strange. But that doesn’t stop me from munching on some fried snack, drinking a cup of coffee, and laughing at Friends while nodding my approval at “Joey doesn’t share food.”

Valentine’s Day – or so they call it

Ah! Love is in the air.

Oh, really? I couldn’t care less. Everyone is talking about the great Valentine’s Day. Really, what is the purpose of Valentine’s Day? Everywhere I see, I can see shops all draped in red and pink with ridiculously stuffed hearts. Not to mention the sequins and the glitter that make them shine, and pain my eyes.

I’m not really against love. What I’m against is spending money on huge human sized greeting cards, each with a message of love(!), that someone wrote to make money.

I appreciate love. Pure and unconditional love. But, we don’t need a day to celebrate love, we don’t have to confine affection to one day. Any day is good for that.

Talking of unconditional love, I remember this short story. Enjoy, if you haven’t already.

The Gift of the Magi — O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

Read on…