Every year in February, you come across a group of people who have been planning Valentine's Day ever since the new year started, culminating in an orgy of red roses, red hearts, red teddy bears and all sorts of over-the-top gestures to impress and irritate in equal measures. And then there are the others, who spend the weeks leading up to Valentine's with unhealthy doses of eye-rolling and eyebrow-crinkling at the Hallmark holiday of manufactured devotion.
But posturing and pretension aside, what about the simple stories of uncomplicated love? What do regular people with workaday lives do on Valentine's Day? This week, we at Tribune bring you not the stories of grand gestures, but of ordinary people and their extraordinary loves.
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Photo: Khan N Moushumi[/caption]
Runa, 19, has just gotten married to her boyfriend of one and a half years. Last year, they spent Valentine's Day on the phone. “Others would usually go out and spend the day together. We couldn't do that, because we were living in two different cities.” It's no different now, her husband still lives and works in Khulna and she works at a departmental store in Dhaka as the security personnel. She went on to explain that the time they have to spend apart from each other and the effort they put into making their long distance marriage work are all worth it.
But is she sad that they are still apart, and that too on their very first Valentine's Day as a married couple? Runa's colour rises as she flashes a shy smile. “Not at all! If he was here, maybe we would have spent the day together and exchanged flowers. But it doesn't bother me all that much whether we are together on Valentine's Day or not, because we love each other the same on every other day. Long-distance, or any other relationship for that matter, is based on trust and we trust and love each other a lot, and that's all that matters.”
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Photo: Khan N Moushumi[/caption]
Saidul Islam, 29, sells roasted peanuts in the capital. He has been married for a couple of years now. When asked about his plans for Valentine's Day, he says: “I am excited about it, and I will be here at my spot to sell peanuts from early morning. Every year on Valentine's Day, my sales go up like a rocket. Because so many couples celebrate this day each year, they spend time together and very often, peanuts are what they prefer to snack on while going on lovers' walks.”
But does Saidul have any plans of his own with his other half? “Not this year, but maybe sometime in the future. My wife lives in Bhairab. We try to spend Eid and Pohela Boishakh together, but we have never celebrated Valentine's Day. If I were with her this Valentine's Day, I would have definitely got her ten flowers. There are tonnes of them growing in the front yard of our house.”
Nila, a salesperson at a local departmental store, has been with her boyfriend for more than three years now. “We spend a lot of time together. I meet him every other day, but I am still looking forward to celebrating Valentine's Day together. It's a day just for the lovers, so it should be celebrated grandly.”
In her early 20s, Nila's young face flushes with excitement while she speaks about her much-anticipated Valentine's plans. “Ashraf and I will meet early on in the day and just go out somewhere. After that, I want to have a romantic lunch, and then go to TSC in the afternoon. I've already bought gifts for him this year, and I'm sure he will give me some too. We have been together for a long time now, and I hope we will get married in the near future.”
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Photo: Mehedi Hasan[/caption]
Marriage makes lovers of us all in the end, and 27-year-old office assistant Kongkon Mandal is no exception. “We got married only last year and to be honest, I have never celebrated the day. This will be my first Valentine's day as a married man and I want to spend a beautiful day with my beautiful wife. I hope she cooks a great dinner for me at the end of the outing, since I love her cooking, even more than that of my mother-in-law,” he says with a chuckle.
When asked about exchanging Valentine's presents, he replies, “how can I say no? My wife will surely expect something from me. She recently came over to my office to give me a rose on Rose Day, which was coincidentally my birthday. That will be hard to beat but I'll try to get her something that she likes, perhaps something made of clay. She likes things like that.”
Does newly married Kongkon have any advice for young married couples? “You need to be able to say everything to each other. We may have fights quite often but we also know that we can't live without each other.”
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Photo: Mainoor Islam Manik[/caption]
Roktim Nmarak, a 22-year-old security official, grins from ear to ear when asked about his Valentine's plans. “There's no one special in my life as of yet, but when I do have someone, I intend to celebrate the day with my love. For the time being, I'll probably spend the day with my family and friends, maybe go out with them.”
He looks down and shyly adds, “I have someone in mind, but she lives in my hometown. I'm waiting to muster up enough courage and ask her out soon. If all goes well, maybe we can spend next Valentine's Day together.”
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Photo: Moumita Ahmed[/caption]
This is the first time that 19-year-old Jamil will be celebrating Valentine's Day. Working as a rickshaw puller in Dhaka, time off is a rare commodity for Jamil, but he is willing to give up a day's wages for the sake of his lover.
“We have been together for two and a half months. I want to celebrate the whole of Valentine's Day together. We will go all around the city, and I won't be the one paddling the rickshaw – I'll actually have her beside me. Maybe we can take a long walk next to Dhanmondi Lake, or go somewhere else. What is important is that she will be next to me.”