‘It’s Valentine’s Day this weekend’ I announced gleefully to my husband throwing him a rather corny, seductive look. ‘Let’s paint the town red!’ The effect on the poor man was quite terrifying. He turned frightfully pale, ‘I don’t think it’s a great idea’ he muttered under his breath, glancing about fearfully. ‘You never know what these Ram ke Sena will do if they caught us buying a card…’ My vision of a candlelight dinner, red roses, chocolates, all the ingredients to celebrate eternal love, went for a toss. Instead, I shivered with fright, remembering the shameful incident that took place in a Mangalore pub recently when young girls were the target of the moral police. Can I safely walk down the street in a sleeveless top, wearing jeans, with my male cousin, clutching a bouquet of roses for my ailing aunt on Valentine’s Day without getting pounded into a pulp and molested by a bunch of zealots? I asked myself.
It’s comical that apart from battling terrorists, we must now spend our energies controlling the Indian Taliban that roams our streets, frothing at the mouth over red roses, spaghetti tops and jeans! Appalled, I turned to Laxmi Bai, my paan chewing, beedi smoking maid for some expert slumdog advice on tackling Valentines Day Vandals-
‘There’s only one way to straighten these goondas out…’ Laxmi’s kohl rimmed eyes hardened; she squatted down and lit up a beedi. Minutes ticked by as I waited anxiously for her Pearls of Wisdom. ‘Become a BANDIT QUEEN and ARM UP! Carry a weapon. The meaner looking the better. Flash it around conspicuously. A tiny whip in a handbag won’t set the alarms off, but they sure do pack a sharp sting!’ she rasped out angrily through a cloud of smoke. ‘Next, remember to HEEL IT. Those pencil thin stilettos you go dancing in memsahib’ She picked up a pair, ‘are deadlier than a knife!’ and slashed open my leather sofa just to drive home her point. ‘Then there’s the ever faithful CHILLI. You can never go wrong with this spice’ she whipped out the blood red packet from somewhere deep within her choli. ‘Next defense is the ACID TEST’ Laxmi was on a roll now. She raced to the kitchen and returned with a glass of water. ‘Take it one level higher. Keep a bottle of water handy and then fling it wildly at them, screaming Tezaab!!’ I stood up, adrenaline pumping; ‘Valentines Day here I come’ I shrieked wildly ready to battle a battalion of louts just to grab a red rose.
‘Calm down memsahib’ she laughed scornfully. ‘My nephew tells me there’s a better way to sort out these goondas’ and she whipped out a pair of bright pink chaddis! ‘Join the Pink Chaddi Army! Send a pair of your laciest, prettiest pink and not so pink chaddis to these hooligans and let them know who wears the pants in this country! That in a nation that worships Laxmi, Saraswati and Durga, they dare not awaken the MahaKaali! Or else there will a deluge of chaddis that’ll smother them to death!’ I was stunned. Pink Chaddis? Will this flimsy piece of lace stop these bloodthirsty mongrels? ‘Everyone’s sending in their chaddis. From Malegaon, Goregaon, Talegaon, Koregaon…all shapes, sizes…they’re pouring in like rain’ Laxmi Bai smiled, when suddenly, her eyes misted over, ‘I bought this new pair. Cost me my Ramu’s medicines. But Ramu insisted. He said, ‘Laxmi, you need to save your freedom right now…. before it’s too late!!’
POST SCRIPT: This is the piece that was to appear in the column but didnt...the more sedate version debates whether we should really Valentine or Not....let me know what you really think of this issue...post Valentine fever.