by Allwin Bright

I woke up early this morning. I looked at the calendar. It is Valentine’s Day today.

I would have taken the day off, I would have taken her to a romantic candlelit dinner and at the end of the day, I’d have surprised her with a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift and told her that I love her and that she means the world to me…

If only I had been in love with a girl. Unfortunately I haven’t fallen in love yet. No… No… No. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve fallen in love but… How do I explain it? Forget it…  it’s complicated.

Let me get back to reality – For guys like me, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, it doesn’t make much of a difference. It is just another day wasted, stuck in a monotonous routine of 10 to 7 at office. After that, it’s just time to head back home. This was how I expected this Valentine’s Day to go down until this happened.

I was stuck in a traffic jam on my way to office. I saw this little girl who was selling roses. She had a bunch of red roses and was desperate to sell it out. A few people ignored her, a few tried bargaining with her but, man, this little girl was stubborn. She came to me. I pretended not to pay attention.

She walked away. “Hey….” I called out to her. She returned and her face shone with
happiness and anticipation.

“Anna (Brother), how many roses should I give you?” she asked.

“No… I just…” I mumbled.

“Look, I don’t have the time to bargain with you. A rose costs Rs. 25. Buy it if you like, or else just leave it. I just can’t waste time with you”, she was firm.

“Rs. 25 per rose. Isn’t that too costly?” I gasped in horror.

“This is the problem with you guys. You’ll go to shopping malls and buy greeting cards, those artificial roses, bouquets, gifts etc. that come with a hefty price tag, but when I sell real roses in traffic, you’ll waste my time bargaining and still you won’t buy them. Please understand that its valentine’s season and we ourselves get these roses paying higher prices. We sell it only for a marginal profit”, she said without stopping for a draw of breath.

“Girl, you are very smart. You should be in school. You’ll be the topper of the class”. (I still do not know what made me say that.)

“Actually, I go to school. I am studying in class V, at MJ Vincent Matriculation higher secondary school, and as you said I am the topper of the class”, she said, gleaming with pride.

This took me by surprise.

“Then, why are you selling roses here? Don’t you have school today?”I was now wondering if schools had declared holidays for Valentine’s Day too.

“I have, but Anna was not feeling well today. I had to take a leave to school to sell roses.”

“What does your Anna do? Does he go to school too?”

“No he doesn’t. He works in bouquet shop. He couldn’t continue his studies after Class X.  Amma (Mom) is a seamstress and she couldn’t afford money for his further studies.”

“Now, Do you want to buy roses?” she asked impatiently.

I knew that she’d kill me if I did not buy roses from her especially after asking her all those questions and taking her time.

“Give me three roses.” I said, pulling out a 100 rupee note

“Shall I make it four? I don’t have change, you see”, she asked.

I smiled and nodded my approval. I gave her the hundred rupee note. I could see that she was very happy.

She handpicked four roses and gave it to me.

“One last question. Look, I do not have a girlfriend. Who do I give these roses to?”

“Who told you that you should only be giving roses to your girlfriend? You can give it to anybody you like.”

“In that case, I’d better give to you”, I said, giving back those four roses to her.

She smiled at me. “Okay then. But, I’ll have only one. Keep the rest with you. I’m sure you’ll find someone to give these three roses”, she said before leaving.