Did you know that over one hundred and forty million cards are exchanged for Valentine’s Day greetings? That is, if you believe a quick search and the internet! This is the second largest exchange of greeting cards, only after Christmas cards. So, it is easy to dismiss Valentine’s Day as just another Hallmark Day! I was also under the mistaken notion that Valentine’s Day is for romantically linked lovers to share gifts as an exchange of their thoughts and feelings towards each other.
These were my thoughts, until I heard some thing very beautiful on the radio. There is a local public radio, which runs a Valentine’s Day fund-raising event. They sell bouquet of roses to be shipped to your “Valentine” and the money goes to the funds to run the radio station. It is a nice gesture to your valentine and helps the causes of the radio station, which is largely supported by the public donations and contributions.
During one of the announcements encouraging the listeners to contribute generously, several testimonials in support of the program were being mentioned. One of them was really special: “I have known these two girls, who are the daughters of my friend, from their child hood. Now after thirty years, they are married and with their families. I am sending your bouquet of flowers for these two girls as my Valentine’s Day gift for them. They are really sweet and worth all the gift that I can give them”!
You see! Valentine’s Day is not just for those in love in the narrow context of human emotions (i.e.): romance. It could very well be the day, to take time to express our genuine respect and affection to the many who add a little charm, the warmth and a feeling of “special” that only a true love can bring about across two people. In many respects this calls for our in-depth understanding of what love is all about? With this little education as part of my daily life, I set about to share the following Valentine’s Day greetings to the many that deserve such accolade.
Of course starting very close to me, my Valentine’s Day Greetings to my wife and then my son. They make me a better person each day, through their affection, knowledge, wisdom and wit. A special hello on this Valentine’s Day, to my siblings, cousins, in-laws and the many friends with whom I have grown so close, that we can treat each other as brothers and sisters!
Then there are those, so many of them, who have added moments of true and unconditional love. First among them is Mrs. Zoraida Samuel. In her mid thirties, Zoraida is the spirit, the heart and soul behind the Rehoboth Home, an orphanage for destitute women. http://rehobothhome.org/ I had a chance to visit Zoraida again during my recent visit to India. I was informed that the RH can accommodate only 120 people. But, there are 160 people housed there. I asked, “Zoraida, Why do you take so many more, despite all your difficulties and financial issues?” She replied, “Sir, what can I do? These people need a place. Where can they go?” Zoraida said this with a calm composure, with a determination to do the right thing at all cost and with a smile that is infectious. The experience of such a moment and her expression of unconditional love – all I can do is to say “Happy Valentine’s Day to you”!
Then there were so many others, at Rehoboth Home and Shanthivanam, http://www.trustshanthivanam.org/ . Few of them are workers with modest income and the many who are volunteers under the most difficult circumstances. Each of them with great deal of enthusiasm and a cheerful attitude that you don’t ordinarily see at most work places! In the beginning, I suspected that it was an attempt to convince me, the occasional visitor. But, I admonished myself for such suspicion, when I saw so many of them, all cheerful and going about their work with a spirit of love and the kindness for care. What makes them do such work – caring for the neediest – while maintaining a positive outlook and demeanor? It is indeed Spirituality in Practice! To all of you, who practice in life, what is preached elsewhere: A very happy Valentine’s Day!
As I was about to leave the RH, a mother with her face all deformed, came running towards me. Even though my eyes caught her deformity, my mind captured her affection and warmth. Trailing her were her two children, about 6 and 10 years old, one of them carrying a small bouquet of hand-made artificial flowers. Please take these flowers, the mother gestured. Today, I accept this flower bunch as my Valentine’s Day gift from this sister afar.
It is not necessary to go far. There are so many in our neighborhoods, who teach our children in so many settings: Schools, Sports, Dance and Music, traditional values and moral principles, at special schools… To all these teachers, who have come to accept all the children as the extension of their own families, to each of you: Happy Valentine’s day!
Finally, to the mother whom I heard on the radio, who helped me to open my eyes far and wide on this Valentine’s Day: Thank You!
Should we confine Valentine’s Day to only human beings or can we extend them to animals too? What about the cows and buffaloes who ceaselessly ensure that we enjoy our morning cuppa that cheers? We can surely go to a goshala or even the couple of cows housed in our nearby temples and treat them with a couple of bananas or some fodder. How about a pet dog that comes wagging its tail with love when it sees its owner? Which reminds me of a small incident. My SIL had a dog Casper who had a friend, a cockier spaniel next door. My SIL was in the habit of giving a couple of morsels of food to the neighbour’s dog every time she fed her own pet. One particular day, when we were all busy with a function in the house, she laid out Casper’s meal but forgot his friend. Casper yelled his heart out until my SIL realized her mistake and fed the friend. Casper had not touched his food until then. Three cheers for this love and friendship!