Valentine is coming, run, run, run by Esame Okwoche

Valentine is coming, run, run, run by Esame Okwoche

Okay so the Christmas tree is long gone, the wreaths and garlands put away, the baubles and lights and snow stained reindeers all packed and shoved in some dark corner of the cupboard. But just as you begin to fold away the red jumpers and the red pyjamas, we are bombarded with more red. Yes! It’s nearly that time of the year when the colour red begins to run crazy and the shops get dressed up in so much red they look like shrines.

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And we are subjected to a rather garish display of redness, especially here in Jand. Red heart shaped throws with black lace trimmings.  Dazed looking teddy bears sitting on straws hugging stuffed up love shape. Cupids with fat belly’s and bows pop at you from every angle. Red heart shaped chocolate bars housed in padded boxes held together with red ribbons confront you on ‘love’ aisle.  So audacious and extravagant are these displays that people become compelled to adorn their relationships in this manner. And since relationships are not fairy tales, but actual lived experiences, they implode under the strain of all these expectations.

The annoying thing is not the commercialization of a simple honest day.  It is the aggro, the unnecessary aggravation it brings. Women/men are no longer satisfied with a quiet meal or single rose flower, or a wordless entangling of fingers, as flimsy as that may sound.  Valentine’s day has to be loud, and obnoxious and full of cheese. No bread, nothing to chew on, thrive on. The expectations for Valentine’s day has snowballed into one cocktail of  fantastical expressions, paid for with exorbitant amounts of money.

All this is well and good if we lived in a ‘perfect’ ‘Valentiney’ world. By this I mean a world where everyone has someone, with whom they can express love to, but also the endless cash with which they may spell out this love. But the world is imperfect. So on Valentine’s day, a day when we are meant to demonstrate love in its purest simplest form, we are left with disgruntled leftovers;

Women mostly, men sometimes, nursing broken hearts because the gifts they received did not match the hype. How can they tell their friends that all they got was a card, or one stem of rose flower, or worse still a promise of a financially better tomorrow? Look, Rebecca got jewellery from H. Samuel, or Swarovski, or wherever. Nneka’s husband flew all the way to Switzerland to get her Swiss Chocolate, and Jide flew his wife to some exotic get away. And all you got for Valentines is a promise?!

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Singletons are the other victims, they sit alone at home, because no one wants to be seen alone on Valentine’s day. So they sit in, hugging a hot water bottle  and watching some grisly movie on Channel 5. And as if that isn’t enough, they will be forced to face the tough task of lying about how their day went, or convincing busybody colleagues at work the next day that they are in the words of Boyz II Men, DOING JUST FINE . Thank you very much!!!

How did we get here? How is it that a festival that is all about spreading love, ends up producing complicated relationships, broken relationships and varying degrees of awkwardness?.

How did a simple basic, pure state of being become one of the most abused and misused word on earth. How is it that the word love is now thrown around like an infectious disease someone is afraid to catch. ‘l love you’, bothers on embarrassing. The word has been polluted by bad economy, hunger, poverty, greed, and the tediousness of day to day life. We have become so removed from ourselves and because love is so basic, around us, within us, we constantly lose it and try to gain it on Valentine’s day.

Love is really much simpler. Love is the thickening, the essence of life. Love is feeling someone else’s pain, sharing someone’s joy. Love is coming home to a kiss, a hug, a cup of tea and a warm bed. Love is the little wet kiss of a toddler, a comforting cuddle. Love is picking up the phone to say hello, love is a helping hand in time of need. Love is standing up for a less able person to sit. Love is doing unto others what you want them to do unto you.

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