“Oh, that’s really amazing…it is called Valentine’s Day today!!” Aarti was surprised to know about the Valentine’s day concept from her granddaughter.
Aarti got married to Aabir, second son of this opulent traditional ‘Sarkar’ family, quite early in her life, at 19 yrs. old. Respecting the family custom, she never met Aabir before marriage. She still remembers her marriage day, the most significant day of her life, as clearly as ‘yesterday’.
She was having a mixed feeling of excitement, anxiety, happiness when she was taking the seven rounds around Aabir covering her face with betel leaves, carried by her brothers on a ‘peeri’ (wooden plank to sit,) following the Bengali wedding ritual. She was dying to see her bride groom, whom she had painted innumerable times secretly in her mind!
Ultimately that auspicious moment of ‘Subho Drishti’ (‘auspicious sight’) came, when she was face to face with Aabir for the very first time. She looked at him shyly and… what they call it…she had ‘love at first sight’ with Aabir, 24- year old, dark handsome guy with sparkling intelligent eyes and gentle smile on his face!! He touched her soul, smoothed her unknown worries!
Forty long years passed just like a blink of eyes!
It’s just a coincidence that Aarti came to know about the ‘Valentine’s day’ today, on the day of her ‘40th Marriage Anniversary’. Her 59- years- old self was feeling excited after so many years like a teenager.
Aarti looked back in her life and realized she never went alone with Aabir to travel or to a restaurant for a romantic dinner. It was not a tradition in this joint family and with arranged marriage! Even for their ‘honey moon’, they went along with ‘Jeetu Chachu’ (uncle) and his family, with two more cousins; though had a great fun!
Surprisingly she never expressed her feelings to Aabir throughout the life, never uttered those three magical words- ‘I love you’!!
A witty, funny plan struck to her mind- ‘Let me launch a new self of mine today. On Valentine’s Day, let me express my love to him’- she smiled at herself.
It is evening 7 PM now.
Aarti tried her different plans whole day but never got Aabir alone. He is always surrounded by his grandchildren or chatting with his elder brother or with his sons or with daughter-in-laws…!! How difficult it is to get some personal time in the joint family!
Today, she cooked Aabir’s favourite dishes herself, stitched his name as a nice design on a handkerchief and gifted him along with that white ‘Panjabi’, she had chosen especially for him from the nearby shop. She tried several times but could not come out of her timid self and tell Aabir- ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you! ‘ L
“I think, he forgot our Anniversary date also…
At this time, he would be at club with his old friends, I will go there and will gift him a bunch of red roses and will tell him ‘Happy Valentine’s day’. It would be fun!”
Aarti thought to herself and chuckled alone.
Aarti could see Aabir sitting along with his friends surrounding a round wooden table. They are playing cards, laughing at jokes. Aarti held the small bouquet of the roses behind her ‘Saree’s Pallu’ and approached to him. She wanted to express her love desperately for the first time in her life and share a light romantic moment on the eve of Valentine’s day. Excited, she could almost hear the thuds of her heart beats…!
Aabir looked up to her, gaped with surprise! There was a complete silence all around as she stood near Aabir, wearing an embroidered red saree, carefully done hair, beautifully painted ‘Maang with Sindur’ (colour put at the parting line of a married woman’s hair) and a bright red ‘Bindi’ on the forehead.
‘What is it? Aarti…tell me’ Aabir asked politely.
Aarti felt a jolt, fumbled awkwardly and replied-
“While coming back home, please bring 2 Lt. of milk and 1 pound bread for breakfast tomorrow. Don’t forget!!’’