"What gift do you want for Valentine’s Day?" I asked my wife, and she replied, "Fix the kitchen sink."

I blame the pandemic for this. Last year, we were at an undiscovered romantic spot (I won’t name it because I want it to remain undiscovered by others), and no such questions were asked. One knew what to do. Flowers, check. Chocolates, check. Dinner, check. Miscellaneous, check.

We just made it back home before the cycle of lockdowns began. Life has been one long Valentine’s Day since then. Flowers, chocolates (weekends only, though), dinners together, and miscellaneous. We are the lucky ones. Working and vacationing the same day. And in the same place. A staycation, for the last many months now.

We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, friends’ birthdays, relatives’ anniversaries, national days, Christmas, Diwali, all in the same place and doing much the same things. Party of two. Party with two, in fact. Once things return to normal, we plan to have a week-long celebration, inviting all our friends, to celebrate these same things more stylishly.

But Valentine’s Day is different. When my wife asks me the same question ("What do you want for Valentine’s Day?"), I will tell her: "Cut my hair." Sure, I love chocolates, but some things in life are more important than chocolates. The texture of celebrations changes if you are secure in who you are.

I remain my wife’s first (and only) hairdressee. The pandemic forced this upon us. It’s been a couple of months now, and another round is indicated.

She fixes my hair far better than I can hope to fix the kitchen sink. If she makes a mistake with the hair, it won’t be long before everything grows back like before. If I make a mistake with the kitchen sink, it’s the end of that story. There’s no growing back. Our kitchen will sink, I imagine.

So you understand the importance of that Valentine’s wish. Chocolates can be had any time, flowers too; but kitchen sinks are another matter. There is greater romance and love in making things easier for us as a couple than there is in following a script written by marketing men at chocolate companies and florists who deliver.

In some years, as Valentine’s Day comes and goes, I hope to get our house fully renovated. For a birthday I shall change that bulb in the dining room that blew months ago. For Christmas, the plan is to reorganise the books that seem to have taken on a life of their own.

Next year’s Valentine’s Day will see me replacing the clocks on the walls with ones that actually work. Valentine’s Day will never be the same again. And that’s wonderful!

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