“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration” (Pearl S. Buck).
Valentine’s Day was supposed to be a day on which “lovers in certain cultures let each other know about their love, commonly by sending Valentine’s cards which are often anonymous.” In contemporary times however, Valentine Day is no longer just about professing or reaffirming ones love; it is now about gift giving. As with other holidays — Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and the rest — Valentine’s Day is now about gifts, gifts and more gifts. Heck, I feel sorry for the fool and the novice who thinks this is still about romance and affection and love.
Radio, TV, newspaper and magazine ads are encouraging us to buy the best and most expensive gift for our lovers and partners. We are encouraged to spend three month salary on diamond rings, diamond earrings and diamond bracelets for our women because diamonds are forever. As with Christmas and other observed days, Valentine Day has become commercialized. You buy this and you buy that. I feel sorry for the man who walks up to his wife or girlfriend and say “honey, happy Valentine’s Day!” then plant a kiss and walk away. Gee, he will be shot at. He will be disowned. He would be dumped and most likely denied food and water and sex for days on end.
This thing called love! It makes you feel good and also makes you feel bad. People swear by it. It has ruined lives, kingdoms and empires. What do you do when love goes south or when it messes with your mind? What do you do when your man or woman no longer love and want you? Do you get your diamond back? And is there a return policy at the diamond store? Folks like me who are saddled with student loan and credit card debt and other bills can’t afford to go diamond hunting — except with more loans.
It took me forever to learn how to buy flowers for my women. Damn, I hate those things. You spend fifty dollars on Roses, and four days later they shrivel and dry out and die. Fifty dollars for colored grass?! It cost a little fortune — two hundred dollars or more — to buy cards and flowers and chocolate and a decent bottle of wine and sit and gaze in each others eyes. You do all these just for the end game? I’d rather just go to the end game (which is quick and better and without all the rigmaroles).
For several years now, the cost of love has been discouraging me from falling in love again. It is because of the cost of love that I have been running away from Oyinbo girls. Holy Moses, they want this and that. This and that and more. When I lived in Minnesota and Seattle, I saw pepper. They almost killed me with this thing called love. It is why I am beginning to look towards my own. Truth be told, African women’s attitude to love and loving is different. They are more pragmatic and realistic. No long story, no hassle no shakara and no sime-sime. Oyinbo girls can kill you with love. In my case, I ran away when I couldn’t take it anymore. Oh Jesus, let them deal with their snow and their roses and chocolate and card and wine and their “lovin-lovin.”
On this Valentine’s Day, all I really want is a woman to express her love for me. I want her to tell me how much she really wants me. How much she really loves me. I want her to tell me she can not live without me; and that without me her life would be incomplete. I want to know that I am the wind beneath her wings, the sugar in her cup of coffee, the only pepper in her goat meat pepper soup. That I am the only star in her sky.
Send me a card or email me. Or call me if you have my number. Make your case. On this Valentine Day, I am looking forward to being chased, to being propositioned by he most beautiful woman there ever is. So, if you are…talk to me! But let me warn you: I don’t do Church. I don’t do religion. And I won’t give diamonds. For all else, I am fair game.
This essay is about the traditional and modern celebration of the Valentine Day. Before I digressed, I’d meant to tell you that: (1) “Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine”; and (2) “One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome” and (3) “According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today.”
Why the commercialization of Valentine’s Day? I don’t get it. Today, gift is equated with love. During Christmas, parents who forget to give their children fabulous gifts would forever be marked. If the children turn out “bad,” the parents would be blamed for not haven loved their children enough and in the right way. It doesn’t matter how much you love and care and labor for your children, if you miss their Christmas presents, you will be labeled a bad father or a horrible and unkind mother. That is the way of today’s world (especially in the United States). This attitude has shifted into other holidays and celebrations.
Love is now a duty, a must and on automation. Any wonder then that most just give the damn gift the wa
y they mutter “I love you, honey” without feeling and meaning it? How sad to know that love can be bought. It is bad enough that love and related matters are overrated, but to now commercialize it?
As for me, I am not asking for too much. No, no, no! I am a simple man. Just love me. That’s all. And I will love you in return. I will love you because you are wonderful and kind and amazing; and without pretensions. I will love you because you made space for me in your heart. On this Valentine’s Day therefore, I will not think of gifts when I think of you. I will not send you flowers and chocolate and diamonds. I will simply love you. I will love you with all my heart and in different ways. So on this Valentine’s Day just tell me that you love me.
How do I love thee?
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, – I love thee with the breath;
Smiles, tears, of all my life…