Valentine Anniversary: A Hero’s Quest
It’s been eleven years since the proposal. I have had other proposals before that, ones I saw through as the lies & predatory schemes that misogynists call flirting. But this one, this one I could not see through. I couldn’t even see through it, in a situation that was obviously not a good fit for me. Instead, I tried to fit myself into it and be that girl – the good proposed-to girl.
But I couldn’t shake off an uneasy feeling for days after the proposal. Something felt off. The same way it felt off that I was forced to sit through ‘Schindler’s List’ on our anniversary (the celebration of which wasn’t even my idea). I had endured months of being called names, of my choices of everything from food to writing mocked & dismissed as frivolous.
Who looks at me and thinks I would want the corniest of corny, down-on-bended-knee, rooftop restaurant (overpriced, bad service and just not nice) deal? Only someone who dgaf what I wanted. The ring didn’t even fit. I might have rented a clue when it caused an angry weal at night (for a change, not directly inflicted by him…sort of). Even on my best days, I was never the pink princessy kind. So what was happening with the bland white people fantasy of proposals, the ugly yellow gold (that I would never choose to wear – would someone living with me not bother noticing that?), the blood diamond ring, the throwing of money that would only sadden me? It felt like a concerted effort to humiliate and hurt me.
But I know now that makes perfect sense in a culture where predation is called romance, where rape and sex mean the same thing and where a man is a good man until he hits a woman and then he’s a man who’s made a slight mistake, that’s all (and anyway it was probably her fault for being feminist). I am so angry, at myself and at the world that served me this and attacks me for not calling it sweet romance. It has taken me years to make sense of this, of my pain and in that who I am and what I believe. Along the way, I have had to examine my thoughts about love and Valentine’s day, fish them out of the massacre of my emotions, the politicisation of the purest.
I started the day late at night (as I often do) talking to a dear friend. I only realised it when I noticed my phone click into a new date/time. I told him, it had been 11 years. He asked,
“Does that still have any power over you?”
and that gave me pause to think of what the date did mean to me. Through the day, I recalled my many associations with the day. The stories I read in Childcraft that had me excitedly making craft Valentines for my cousins till I was told they were only for (in hushed tones) ‘boyfriends and girlfriends’. The Hallmark greeting card plastic froth. The right wing backlash calling it ‘against Indian culture’. We found everything amusing; we were just that young. And I had no context, much less hope at that point in my life of the day ever being personally significant to me. The post millennium economy with its eyes on my wallet and the romcoms and diamond ads that catered to it. The rising feminism, angry at the lies, lonely about feeling left out, not wise enough to make the distinction. All of the above. And then today.
I cooked a lavish meal, breezing through multiple recipes simultaneously. In parallel, I carried on a meeting on the phone, figured out schedules, brainstorms and budgets. I powered through food coma because yum, I cook so well. I cleaned the kitchen and my home (always so healing). Then I crashed early evening and slept. I went for a walk and lingered with the plants. I even asked a stranger if he’d let me have the stone seat he’d been sitting on for the last hour since it was my favorite. And happily, he relinquished it to me happily. I had a welcoming meditation under the trees. I dip a random dip into my Poetry collection and found Mary Oliver’s mischievious green mirth. I lingered on songs I’ve quietly collected over the years, free of associations of any relationship. The world wooed me today. And it’s over.
Happy Valentine’s Day to me.
Lines that spoke to me
• Ones I saw through as the lies & predatory schemes
• But this one, this one I could not see through
• Everything from to writing mocked & dismissed as frivolous
Perhaps disrespect is the first sign / symptom of hatred'
• Only someone who dgaf what I wanted
• In a culture where predation is called romance
• I am so angry, at myself and at the world that served me this
I think I had been at the similar junction, maybe the road to death is always wide open and path to life is very much narrow, like shortage of doctors and teachers shortage of kind people in the world
It appears suffering is inevitable, one would suffer of loneliness if standards are high, one would suffer of mediocrity if standards are low. My sister was telling me today that better to endure crushing loneliness than to lower realistic standards
• Massacre of my emotions