The day began with the usual humdrum.
‘Where is my dress,’ shouted Viren, without even looking inside the cupboard? A quick glance, and he called for his mother, who was still busy helping out her husband find his shoes and tie.
‘Can you see the hangars in the lower part,’ she shouted from the kitchen, hoping to remotely manage the issue.
‘Where,’ Viren shouted anxiously this time, his eyes staring at the bottom of the cupboard, multiple hangars adorned the single rod while bearing the weight of innumerable clothes.
‘Towards your left,’ she replied before immediately adding, ‘no, no, towards your right, probably in the middle.’
A temporary relief reflected on her face as she finally got everything her husband needed, allowing her to rush towards her son, Viren, now.
‘Did you find it,’ she asked as she walked towards him.
‘Trying,’ Viren replied in a gloomy tone.
‘Here it is,’ she scampered her hands through the crowded closet to hurriedly hand over what he needed.
Viren’s eyes stared at the dress for a while, the face reflecting his astonishment with what he just witnessed, something which was taking an eternity to him, was accomplished in a few fleeting seconds by his mother, without even breaking into a sweat.
She, however, with little time on her hands, turned around quickly, to rush back into the kitchen; the dough still wasn’t kneaded properly while the milk on the stove was about to overflow, when she immediately turned off the knob with a loud sigh.
‘Thank god, I reached back at just the right time,’ she murmured to herself.
‘Riya, wake up, don’t you have to go to school,’ she shouted while still working on the dough; her eyes glanced at the clock once, before her hands resumed moving even more rapidly.
There wasn’t any response though, Riya still seemed busy in her world, unwilling to reply or acknowledge her mother’s call.
She was about to turn and go to her room, when she suddenly collided with Riya, who stood in the middle of the kitchen’s door, properly dressed, with a clean new hankey pinned on her shirt.
She continued staring at the little one for a while’ a subtle smile suddenly occupied her face.
‘You are such a darling,’ she gave her a quick hug before resuming her work in the kitchen.
‘Ma, won’t you also get late,’ asked Priya and looked around to see if she could help?
‘Don’t worry about me, your bus will be here soon,’ she replied and handed over her breakfast and began checking her bag to see if everything was in order.
‘You missed your science book again,’ she exhorted Riya, who also realized her mistake and reflexively slapped her forehead.
‘Oh Mumma, how could I miss it,’ she murmured and walked back to her room to get the book.
Soon, Viren and his father too ate their breakfast and moved out of the house quickly.
Viren didn’t take the bus as his father dropped him at school, which was on the way, while Riya had to wait for a while before her bus arrived. She waved towards her mother before boarding it.
Her bright eyes stared at the three of them from the window as she now turned around to get ready for her job.
A quick breakfast later, she rushed towards her room, the laptop already switched on, was lying on the table. Luckily, the meeting had still not started, and she was surprisingly early, by a few minutes.
The call was from a remote village where the volunteers were working on the vaccination for pregnant women and Janaki was supposed to counsel them and help them with some troubleshooting.
The call and counselling continued until late evening.
Multiple messages on social media and online portals declared how important it is for people to celebrate Valentine’s day as she too unknowingly stared at such advertisements and purposely ignored them to focus on her work.
Images of her kids and husband flashed in the mind immediately as she suddenly felt too old for these things and quickly blamed her work and busy schedule for ignoring days like these.
‘Who has time for all this, she muttered, before her eyes rolled back to the laptop’s screen. A smiling face greeted her, a woman she was in touch with about a fortnight ago and who just now gave birth to a beautiful child.
‘She wanted to show you the infant’s face first and was very adamant about it,’ the volunteer explained in an anxious tone, afraid how Janaki would react to this sudden interference.
‘Wow, she is so cute,’ replied Janaki, her face breaking into a quick smile as she looked at the mother-daughter duo.
The volunteer also took a sigh of relief as she witnessed smiling faces on both sides of the screen.
The time was about 4 and everyone decided to take a break. The bell rang and Janaki knew who to expect.
Her children must be back from School.
However, her eyes couldn’t believe what they saw as she opened the door.
A gigantic bouquet of roses awaited her as she couldn’t help but gape at it for a long time, before realizing what she was doing and composed herself to discover the sender.
Suddenly, the kids jumped from behind, shouting and surprising her as their father walked unhurriedly towards the three of them for a group hug.
‘We all love you, Mumma,’ Riya spoke in a cute childish tone, as Janaki tried wiping the tears off her face.
‘Valentine day makes sense after all,’ she mumbled; her husband pointed at one more surprise, waiting for her.
A new laptop, a chair, and the table, she had been very reluctant to buy for so long-awaited her in the large box he was standing beside.
‘You deserve it and much more,’ he whispered in her ears as the kids forced their parents to quickly get inside the waiting cab for their valentine day’s dinner.
‘You two are my valentine’s too,’ Janaki announced, picking up Riya and caressing Viren. She forced them to tag along as the entire family decided to celebrate this day together.
A festival of love turned into a family celebration as the traditional family values somehow trumped the stubborn western influence to make it a desi valentine’s day.