Roses from Tariq Never has a woman been more at the mercy of men than on Valentine Day.

It is February the fourteenth. I head to the hospital, for me it is like any other day. As I enter the nurses station there is a Mylar balloon with a heart on the desk of the clerk, chocolate in a heart shaped box for one of the nurses. Not everyone has received a gift commemorating this mysterious holiday.

The patients have fake lollipops; tinsel hearts from social workers while their parents remain noticeably absent. There is a child with a broken leg from sexual abuse in one of the rooms; he has a small, tacky tinsel heart that the social worker brought. When I asked why she did so, she said “something for him so he should not feel left out.

”I wonder….. would he be feeling left out because his mother’s boyfriend abused him, or that he is alone in the Hospital room. Or would he be feeling left out because the one person in this world whose only job is to love him is absent?

I make my rounds from room to room discovering more and more tinsel plastic hearts, and I wonder if this is the only happiness these children can have and what it means to them?

Where are the relatives, the family the neighbors, the hot meals, the hugs, the therapy of touch, the talk and the laughter and most of all inclusion onto a larger extended family?

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I recall one of the rights of a muslim on another is to visit his or her brother or sister if they are sick, and suddenly in this lonely, abused child’s room with tinsel hearts, the wisdom of the Prophet’s (PBUH) teaching hits home.

Here in the antiseptic corridors of the Hospital Valentine is in full force. There is a young sweet student nurse who has been waiting for the “ ring” at Valentine. As it is still midday, hope flowers in her heart, “we are meeting for coffee after work, and maybe then…” she says coyly.

The large hearts hanging on the doors and windows are signs of love for some and rejection for others. It is difficult to say to them that love does not come in a plastic cutout, nor does lack of that cutout mean rejection; but I am too foreign to understand this or explain it to them. Even to me It had sounded so romantic in the TV sitcoms which I watched as a young resident, However it looks so pathetic in real life.

The heavy weight middle-aged nurse is joking; “ Next year I am going to send myself flowers” I stop…what is this? Peer pressure or a subtle message to the women about their worth. Thus if she gets flowers is she happy & worthy and the rest are not? The others are envious of her or does she have different levels to compare to.

For example if someone who got red full-bloodied roses and chocolate, or the one who got Godiva? The envy, the gloating and the rejection are palpable on this day of Valentine.

Valentine is inculcated at age six and seven when little children write valentine cards to the opposite sex in the whole class, I take that back, the mothers write the cards, and I was one of them, I was told this was an American tradition. When my son came back from school, I asked him if he had given the cards to his classmates, he said he gave them to the teacher. I asked him if he got any, he said the teacher put them in his bag.

Days later I removed them from his bag, they were unopened and unread. I opened them and read laborious writings, ‘Tariq I love you’, ‘Tariq be my Valentine’ etc etc etc. Had the girls left their card unopened, did they have that remarkable lack of interest in Valentine cards as my seven-year-old son?

What was I drilling into my son’s head by writing all these cards for him?; Were all these girls his valentines? And what did that really mean at age seven? Was this vicarious living on part of the adults and perhaps a sign of diehard commercialism of hallmark and ftd?

How about me ? I have neither flowers nor chocolate, should I be feeling sorry for myself? Does that mean I am unloved? On the wings of that thought come images of being welcomed in to loving homes, hugged, conversations brimming with laughter, the warmth of love soaking into me as I spend hours sipping tea talking about life & philosophy with my family and friends.

I look at their hands and none of them come bearing Valentine flowers.

9 thoughts on “WHERE IS MY VALENTINE?

  1. I rather have the loved ones in my family treat me like it is Valentines day not on Feb 14. I love when i receive flowers just because I was one their thoughts. I feel Valentines Day is the rest of the year when you have real love in your life.


  2. Wow. This was excellent rebuttle to old school of thought approach. I got goose bumps reading about this valentine day wish. Best thing ever read on valentine day.


  3. What should I write as my heart wants me to write on this valentine day? I had never celebrated valentine day till I came to USA. It is not that I had not loved before but just did not know about this special day. It has to do with the fact that I was born to a conservative family in a small town where somehow expression of love was not encouraged. I regret the fact that I don’t even recall ever telling my parents during their life that how much I loved them. Only time I told my mom loud and clear that I love her was after she had passed away and I saw her in my dream.
    I have been in USA for the last ten years and as I look back, I started celebrating valentine day only a few years ago. These last few years when I celebrated, it was by buying lingerie and roses. I bought roses to fulfill the custom and lingerie to fulfill the desires.
    So what about this year? Something somewhere was different. I wanted to celebrate this year more than I ever did. So buying lingerie or roses would not do this time. It would not quench my thirst and it would not satisfy my hunger this valentine day. Something had changed dramatically. So what has changed? I asked myself. Answer was simple: I have fallen in love. Yes, I am crazy in love. I want to go on the mountain top and say it loud and clear and tell the whole world that I am in love. I desire to love and want nothing in return.
    Love has mystified me always. Every one becomes a poet at the touch of love. I don’t know if that is true in every case but at least it is in my case. I used to write but stopped writing a long time ago and I never wrote in English for sure. Someone has touched my heart and I want to write again. I want to write things that I want to say and I want to do thing that I write. It all started with being strangers and then friendship. And somehow this bond of friendship has deepened to the point where stronger bond of love has developed and taken over friendship. I call it love because just thought of it brings smile to my face and just fear of losing it rolls tears in my eyes. I call it love because it is the last thing I think of when I go to sleep and first thing that comes to mind when I wake up. It is love as I cannot imagine life without it.
    Love is a source of many great troubles.
    But lacking love
    is a disgrace
    for travelers upon this path
    Love is the life force of the entire universe——
    those who lack love
    are already dead. Awhad al-Din Kirmani

    So I was not dead but full of love and very much alive on this valentine day. This was by far the best valentine day as love was part of it. I celebrated this valentine day not with chocolate, roses, lingerie or dinner but by cherishing love. I was happy that as the day ended, it was with love and as I woke up the morning after, it was also with sweet thought of love as well. I know exactly what I want to ask God when I pray next time. I don’t want a valentine day, a valentine week, a valentine month, and valentine year but a valentine life with love in it. Dear God, can you grant me my wish?


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