Momo Quazi, Toronto
As I am going through an extensive training at my workplace for last couple of weeks my mind has turned into a zombie brain. It lost its creative string. On top of that, I am not the gooiest romantic person in the world. Am I capable of loving another human being? Absolutely- but showing the love or celebrating the love is out of my natural character. As a result I was struggling to come up with a good piece to write about Valentine’s Day. I was freaking out and almost decided to quit but it was a prior commitment. Under this quandary, I turn to the only person who is always there to guide me, my “frenemy”- mommy dear. I ask her opinion about Valentine’s Day and she did have some interesting point of views on this “celebration of love” day.
According to her, in a third world very conservative country like Bangladesh, Valentine’s Day only belongs to a certain age group. The true meaning of “love” gets lost in the adrenaline rush of the early teens to mid-Twenties young adults. Instead of focusing on the beauty of devoting yourself into another human being, they exercise their sexually repressed emotions in a very unhealthy manner which leads to commit something unacceptable to the family and the society. The scenario is particularly bad for the girls. Although we do have women on the top of the political parties but still Bangladesh is still one of the few countries which are dominated by their males in every walk of life. And on a Valentine’s Day, if a single mistake is committed by a girl she will have to spend the rest of her life regretting that. We are very unforgiving in that manner towards our women. There is a tremendous social pressure on the young people and their parents. So, parents and the elders like teachers and even a random neighbor tries to keep an special eye on that young person on Valentine’s Day, even if they didn’t have any plan to go out on a date or even if he/she didn’t have anyone on to date … they feel extra rebellious and try to do something that is out of their nature. And we all know the thrill of stepping into a forbidden territory and especially if you are driven by your teenage hormones. Another very important thing is our lack of education; in the schools they avoid the chapters on ministration, puberty, childbirth, contraceptive, hormones and sexuality. Except for maybe 5% of the citizens, the entire country pretty much have the wrong ideas about their own sexuality, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. They have no idea about pedophilia, sexual consent or sexual harassment. It all leads to an unhealthy practice. We forget to tell our children “love is beautiful “. Every religion in the world says “love is divine “. We forget to plant the love seed into the mind of our children and teach them to love and celebrate the love toward their God, family, better half, neighbors, relatives, friends, animals, environment, plants, art and all the other fellow human beings around them– unconditionally.
Another thing to remember, in our country, the people who actually deserve to celebrate Valentine’s Day hardly even care about it. Those are the people who have been married for more than a decade, stayed with each other through thick and thin, raised children and took responsibilities of their elders and the family members. They don’t get to celebrate the Valentine’s Day.
As I listen to my mom, I look back into my life and realized that I never saw my mom and dad celebrating Valentine’s Day on February 14th. But I recall very clearly when my dad used to bring flowers for my mom, every Thursday night on his way back from the office. Or the way they celebrated “pohela boiskakh” together with matching outfits and the way they went to the movies letting me spend the nights at my aunt’s. For them “love” was not for one day. It was for every little moment of their lives. My parents are the most romantic couple that I know. The second most romantic was my mother in law and father in law. But they were from a totally different generation.
When I came to live with them they were 76 and 84 years old already. I was lucky to experience the last few years of my dad in law’s life. He made breakfast for my mom in law every morning and made sure she took all her medications. My favorite scenario was to see them on lazy afternoons, sitting in front of the large window together, looking outside. Father in law would crack open an orange and fed her the segments one by one. They would spend hours talking and sitting like that. They never got to celebrate Valentine’s or didn’t even understand what Valentine’s Day is. But they knew how to care for each other and how to raise a family with 7 children and many grandchildren. For me, that is a successful love story.
In the contrary, I also understand the point of Valentine’s Day. It’s the day to recognize those people in your life who we often forget to show our love and gratitude to. When we’re deciding how to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we should remember those few, special people in our lives who are always there to listen, always there to encourage and always there to lean on? Think about it—doesn’t your sister always pick up the phone no matter how late it is? And, I bet your brother is there every time you need advice. And, let’s face it, there is little in life more pure than the love between a mother and child. So, maybe it’s not the kind of love that makes you feel butterflies in your stomach or makes you want to run through fields holding hands, but the love we feel for our family is genuine. And there is some of us who strive to see the family all the time, but cannot because they are far far away from home –you celebrate by calling them together with the little family you have on hand, and you celebrate- you go to that restaurant, you buy that red card and the cliché red balloon and the gift- be silly, have fun and fall in love “head over heels”–all over again with your better half.