That was the mid-February of year 1996, the month of a shoulder season in Pune. The winter was diminishing and summer was taking baby steps. The intoxicating aroma of mango blossom and jasmine had started wafting on the air.
I was studying engineering. My younger brother Yogendra (all his near ones call him Yoga) was a youth of sixteen. My elder cousin sister Nayana, who was studying medicine had come to our place on vacation.
As Valentine’s day was nearing, I was longing for some Letter from my beloved, though each casual letter otherwise was also a special one in our long-distance relationship. My parents knew about my love story since it started and Yoga came to know about it little later due to my exchange of letters with my beloved.
A middle-aged postman whom I called Datta Uncle, used to deliver letters in our area. Whenever I crossed path with Datta uncle, I used to stop and collect my personal incoming letters from him before they landed up in Yoga’s hands. The reason was obvious: on getting hold of my letters, he often used to make me run after him from one room to other while teasing and return them only on bargaining something in exchange such as my best piece of stationery. His behavior used to agitate me at times but then my life would have been very boring if he were not so playful!
I tried to call my beloved on Valentine’s day but my calls went dematerialized. He had not called either. We couldn’t communicate, which was quite upsetting. The history repeated on the following two days. I used to attend college, do all my due submissions and practicals, study, and come back home by evening. He used to be on my mind as usual.
On the evening of 17th February after spending a usual college day, I returned home. I was tired like anything. As soon as I headed for the jasmine plants in the backyard to get some fresh scent, Nayana and the granny gathered around me. Nayana handed over to me five large beautiful cards and they both couldn’t hold the curiosity flowing to the rims of their eyes. My waiting had come to an end finally! I felt like I had met him in person. My granny enquired about the card sender’s details keenly and Nayana listened to my answers with twinkling eyes.
They say if you tell a Secret to a woman, it no longer remains a secret. And I had to tell my secret to two women! I told them everything as it was and of course it did not remain a secret then.
On the same evening, Arun called me on phone. Then I came to know that he had posted those five cards to me in such an order that I could receive one card each day so that we both celebrate a Valentine’s week rather than a Valentine’s day. But most probably, the postal service didn’t operate daily from MP to Maharashtra then and that is why I had received five cards on the same day just a little after Valentine’s day. Receiving a bundle of cards from my Valentine was a feeling no lesser than winning a lottery.
All of us have some everlasting memories. The time changes so does our belief system but those memories don’t fade. Today, when enough number of years have passed to be able to look back, I think we don’t require any specific day to express our love. Now each day of togetherness is a Valentine’s day for both of us. But yes, that planned Valentine’s week I have treasured in my stash forever.