Valentine's Day; What does it really mean?
Sometimes when I feel somewhat stressed out, I like standing by the roadside to watch cars passing. I know that sounds loony but to be honest, I find it very entertaining for two reasons: one, I get to see new models of cars I haven’t seen before, and two, I get to play a game I call “spot the couple”. I know the first reason is clear enough but for the second reason, I can almost hear you ask, “what couple?” Well, the married couple of course.
I once read a joke that said this: "if you see a man opening the door for a woman, it is either of two things; either the woman is new or the car is". To walk you through this, it means that if the woman is new (in his life), he is trying to impress her by acting all gentlemanly, kind, loving and all the other adjectives in that range. If the car is new, then obviously, he is trying to make sure the woman (in this case his wife or long-time girlfriend) does not scrap off the paint from his new car’s door, maybe because he knows he pissed her off and his car might pay for his mistakes.
The latter couple is very easy to spot especially in the morning or evening slow traffic because it’s highly likely that the man will be looking straight ahead “pretending” to be concentrating on his driving, while the woman will be looking out of the window presumably concentrating on the people waiting for dala-dalas on the roadside, or maybe looking for a new hair style or outfit design to adopt for her next visit to the fundi. Well, as for what would be going on in their minds at that time, your guess is as good as mine, but I can almost bet you it is highly criminal content.
As for the “new” couple, they would be all laughter and smiles with a lot of communication and probable gazing into the eyes, regardless of the fact that the man would be driving, though we all know multi-tasking is not something they (men) are very good at. Well, I guess that risk factor adds spice to that relationship. If there was a camera in that car, you would probably see and hear them using that time in the car to update each other on where one will be during the day (if it is in the morning) or giving each other a run-down of how the day has been (if it is in the evening). Whatever the case, they will be exuding an aura of togetherness and harmony in the car, as opposed to the married couple, who are likely to have committed murder in their minds already.
With this picture of the married couple in mind, let’s fast forward to the one day in February that stands out like an oasis in a desert; a day that has been embraced by the whole world as the day when lovers are “supposed” to express their love for/to each other; a day that those without lovers wish they had someone to hold and to call their own; a day when most women (single or hitched) feel the wave of loneliness most; a day that brings out mixed feelings. The 14th of February. Valentines Day. In your view, how do you think this couple will be spending this year’s valentine’s day? Well, whether they choose to spend the day committing murder in their minds or not, that’s their own problem. As for me, I have my own thoughts about this day.
I don’t know about you but I tend to feel that this day is highly overrated the whole world over. The pressure that comes with it is also too much. Women are supposed to dress to kill (if not to outdo each other), causing some of the women to actually look ridiculous because of the choice of attire they choose for the day. Well, that’s a story for another day. On the other hand, men are supposed to be the “gentlest” on this day, treating their women like queens, gazing into their eyes and whispering sweet words to the woman (like the first non-married couple described above, I assume).
If you think about it, a lot of investment goes into this ONE day, starting from the outfits, the dinner, the gifts, and maybe some overnight stay in some plush hotel by the beach. In fact, if one is not careful, a long-term investment may come out of this one night in the form of unwanted and unexpected pregnancies or some incurable sexually transmitted disease.
Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing whatsoever against this day, but is this what Valentine’s Day is all about? I know majority of men reading this will be nodding their heads vigorously in agreement with the next sentence while an equal number of women will be wondering what curse words to use on me. The thing is, I believe it is just another day within the 365 days in the calendar, another day that makes February a 28 or 29 day month. The only difference is that this day has a “tag” around it that says “the day of love” which if loosely translated could mean the day when we are supposed to express love to those we love. Interesting….
Forgive me for being so upfront but why must you wait for that one “special” day to get the attention that you deserve? Living your life waiting for just this one day for someone to express his/her love for you? In my view, every day should be special! My feelings, my love, the time that I dedicate to you, the sacrifices and everything else should be special every day and that should not go unnoticed. Valentine’s Day should be the icing on the cake, not the body of the cake. It should be a culmination of all the little acts of love showed to you in the other 364 days of the calendar.
You cannot treat someone like some door mat the whole year round and expect that on this one day you will send them a bouquet of flowers, buy them a box of chocolates and their favorite designer fragrance, and top it up by a candle-lit dinner by the beach, expecting that these actions will erase all the heartache you could have inflicted in them for that long. This doesn’t work. However, if your intention is to use this day and these actions as a way of appeasing your mate for all the wrongs you’ve done them over the months, then yes, you are definitely on the right path.
As I come to the end of this article I discourage us from waiting for this one day in the year to appreciate and show love to the people in our lives; it doesn’t matter whether it’s your parents, your spouse, your children, your house-help, your workers or workmates, etc. It doesn’t matter your status quo, every one of us needs to be loved every single day of our lives. Don’t wait until the 14th of February to express or show love to someone; show it to them now, because this could be the time they need it most, and it could be the last opportunity you have to love them.
Like someone once said, love is spelt G-I-V-E. If you truly love someone, then you will do more giving than taking. You give them your time, you give them your presence, you give them space in your life and a place in your heart, you give them an opportunity to do better in life, you give them your forgiveness, you give, you give, you give. There is no end to giving in love because that is what love is all about. Giving. As long as you are alive, every single day presents an opportunity for you to love someone (read to give to someone).
Be a giver, be a lover and make someone’s life a Valentine every day.
PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 10th of February, 2013, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"