Ouchmytoe.com has seen two Valentine Day`s posts in its lifetime. Way back in 2004, I was looking for St Valentine and in 2006 I tried making it a special day for my newly wedded wife, Rekha. Today, almost five years (or is it six?) after our marriage I suddenly feel like writing about Valentine`s Day again.
The trigger was a Valentine`s Day card that my daughter brought home from school this Thursday. Like I said earlier, she is only 3 years old and studies in pre-Nursery at Modern Montessori School.
The moment I stepped into the house at 9.00 p.m. on Thursday, my wife stuck a pink colored card under my nose and said: “This is our daughter`s gift to us on Valentine`s Day….she made it in school.”
My wife is naÃ¯ve. She believes everything the World throws at her.
“She made it?” I asked sarcastically. “She is only three,” I added for effect.
“Yeah. It even says so in her school diary.” My wife continued to believe. I have always thought that the belief of a person shouldn`t be broken. For example, if I told Obama that Bush`s war on Iraq was for oil, he would be a shattered man. So, I decided to remain silent.
Our household was asleep by 11 p.m…..but I waited till 3 a.m. just to be sure. At 3 a.m., I sneaked out of the bed and headed for the refrigerator – that`s where we display everything that Rhea creates. Except for the soiled yet artistic diapers which we throw out.
The good thing about Rajans is that we can smell a conspiracy when there is one. I knew that one of Rhea`s teachers who had seen me during the numerous PTA meetings was trying to convey a message to me. Could this love for me be the reason why these teachers were conducting so many PTA meets – so that they could see me often? Not to mention the new concept called FTA Meetings – Fathers & Teachers Association meetings that had been introduced, where the Fathers were to leave behind the mothers.
I turned the Valentine`s Day card inside out to look for unsuspecting clues – an odd lipstick mark, a signature, name, number…whatever. But the teacher in love with me was playing it safe. Very safe.
As a kid one had always known about a concept called secret writing, where the message wasn`t visible till the paper was heated.
I lit a candle and ran the pink colored Valentine`s Day card over the flame. We Rajans excel at such delicate operations. Well, most of the time. But as luck would have it, I ended up burning the Valentine`s Day card.
The huge advantage of living in a walled society is that there is always somebody from your kid`s school, who stays within the apartment complex. The huge disadvantage is that in these apartments there are no garden walls that you can scale to get into the house and steal a Valentine`s Day card (from the kid`s school bag) and escape un-detected. So, I decided to ring the bell of the Kapoors at 4 a.m..
Ding Dong! Ding Dong!
You can judge people by their response time. The Kapoors failed miserably for they took a whole five minutes to open the door. It looked like they were expecting some relative or somebody else because when they saw me, they looked surprised. Wonder why Mr Kapoor was holding a hockey stick in the middle of the night.
“Mr Kapoor, did your son also bring along a Valentine`s Day card from school yesterday?”
“No, he didn`t. But why are you asking? And at 4 a.m.?”
The advantage of having a child is that you can blame the child for everything that`s gone wrong. Exactly like how Rekha does: “Ohhh, that pot broke because Rhea tried to lift it.” “Rhea tore that Freakonomics book of yours.” “Rhea pulled the TV remote batteries out.” “Rhea poured Pepsi the mattress.” Just in case you were wondering of the four incidents mentioned here, Rekha was responsible for two – messing up the mattress and tearing up the Freakonomics book (coz, I sat long hours in the loo).
“Ohh I am sorry for waking you guys up so early, but you know Rhea got up early and started asking for her Valentine`s Day card. And we had given it away for lamination. Is it possible that I can borrow the Valentine`s Day card of your son?
The Kapoors looked at each other. For some reason they didn`t seem to be happy. And then Mr Kapoor said: “But Ayush didn`t bring any Valentine Cards from school.”
“Are you sure. Did you look inside his bag?” My suspicions were coming true.
“Yes we did, Mr Rajan. Now if you will allow us, we would like to go back to bed.”
The advantage of being a Rajan is that we understand hints. So, I thanked them and left them to hit the bed again.
So, only Rhea had been sent home with the Valentine`s Day card. It didn`t matter that Ayush was in another class for a Valentine`s Day applies to students of all classes.
After spending a sleepless night, I decided to drop Rhea in school in the morning. My wife was surprised but I didn`t care. After dropping Rhea, I asked to speak to her teacher.
As luck would have it, for the 14 student class that my daughter studies in….there are two teachers. This complicated the matter. How was I to find out which teacher was sending me Valentine cards?
I cornered them both in the corridor and decided to find out the lovelorn teacher by delicate methods.
“Surprised to see me?” I asked. If any of the teacher was expecting me….I would have got my answer. But the teacher that was smitten-with-love-for-me continued to play it safe.
“Surprised? Why would we be surprised? Your daughter studies here and you are expected here once in a while.”
“OK..” I took time to think. I needed to lay a trap to find out the Cleopatra.
“So, the school is celebrating Valentine`s Day is it?”
“Well, we celebrate all good days and Valentine`s Day is one such day.”
When the going gets tough, we Rajans get tougher. I put out a straight face and asked: “So, who made the Valentine`s Day card?`
“It was your daughter, obviously,” both the teachers blurted out together. Stress on the word ‘obviously` made me even more suspicious.
“She is just 3 years old…and she can`t make a Valentine`s Day card,” I insisted.
At this the prettier of the two teachers got red in the face. She looked around, raised her voice a bit and replied: “Sir, what-ever-your-name-is, we are a good school…a school that encourages its students to learn by helping them. We did help your daughter in making the Valentine`s Day card…but it is all her work.”
I had got my answer…it couldn`t have been the teacher that didn`t know my name. So, it was the not-so-pretty teacher who was smitten by me.
I smiled. We Rajans always triumph against all odds.
I thanked them for all the support and walked away. There was a slight spring in my step, and it didn`t have to do anything with the fact that my daughter`s teacher wouldn`t fail her in pre-Nursery. Why would she, huh?
*Yesterday, that`s one day before the Valentine`s Day, I was at the florist to send out flowers to my wife. When the florist asked me the address where he wanted the flowers sent….I made a last minute change. I ended up saying: Madam Sunita, Class Teacher, Pre-Nursery, Modern Montessori School, Gurgaon. And when he said, “And the message sir?” I replied, “Let us do a FTA meeting in your house some day. Happy Valentine`s Day.”