Day of reckoning

Tags: News

And you thought wedded blip equals a happy Valentine’s Day? Think again...

I always wait for Valentine’s Day to come and go for confirmation that my husband does not love me. I mean, it is pretty much obvious the whole year through but this is the official ‘I do not love you’ day in our family.

How unfair of singletons to go on and on about their sad and lonely single lives as if Valentine’s Day mocks only them. The sarcasm and over the top nuisance value of VDay is not exclusively a bachelor/bachelorette domain. It is the hitched and the hooked who feel it the most because they are supposed to be above it, over it, beyond it or right in the middle of it. Either which way they are thought to be so ahead in the mating game as to leave such preliminary rituals to rookies. Their love is supposedly of such solid historical proportions that the last thing it requires is external endorsement on some predetermined date.

The L word is taken as said pretty soon among established couples. It is a been-there-said-that kind of thing. Last heard on the first day of honeymoons, it surfaces in talks about pizza and paintings over the years. ‘Love’ languishes in greeting cards sent during peak insanity period, which we stumble upon years later like some message in a bottle floating across centuries. Handwritten with a flourish, the word merely reminds us of how easily pleased we once were.

From day one, in fact, from the moment I stepped into church (way before the bridegroom and therefore in the unenviable position of having to dial him frantically), he hired me as secretary. No dictations on laps though; I’m too busy picking up his kids, his dry-cleaning, his mail, not to mention veggies, groceries and all other basic necessities. I am the one who has to remember birthdays and plan holidays. Though he does say grumbling about the travel, destination and menu is no easy task either.

I sometimes catch him staring at my old photographs for lengthy periods of time and then he sighs and says how much I have changed over the years. Husbands being the kings of backdated compliments, I learn about my previous perfection only via a live reportage on the state of current deterioration. To be fair to myself, I have not changed at all since I turned teenager. Except for some thunder thighs and double chin and love handles and a muffin top, I remain more or less the same. The growing obsession with anti-ageing creams I can explain. It is the scientist in me, really. I just need to know if women are being taken for a ride by giant cosmetic MNCs and I intend to sue every one of them; the buying is merely research.

So a man who says not a word about love all year round cannot be expected to cough up quotable quotes just because it is VDay. And though Jay Leno called VDay ‘Extortion Day’, what can a poor long-suffering husband get his wife that can genuinely be called a ‘surprise’? He is long used to his gifts being greeted with: I have it already, I hate this, I never wear red, can we return it and get something else, never buy me anything, okay?

Earth has been declared round, not heart-shaped. It doesn’t help that love fluctuates, waxes and wanes (much like Anushka Sharma’s upper lip). Which is why conjugal love is all about back-ups. ‘All you need is love,’ said Charles M Schulz, ‘But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.’ So yesterday we stocked up on cocoa goodies and indulged our sweet tooth. And with naked greed reached out for that instead of each other. If VDay dares to try and exploit us, we exploit it right back.

Here is some advice 365 days in advance: next Valentine’s Day, buy roses for yourself. Chomp on candy and go on a finger-pointing spree in shopping malls. But do not wait with bated breath for declarations of love. Love and VDay are two separate entities. Husbands are not your valentine. If they love you — as with everything else —the wife is the last to know.

(Shinie Antony is a

Bangalore-based writer

and author of When Mira

Went Forth and Multiplied)

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