On this Valentine’s day buy a diamond for the special woman in your life—-it will be something she will remember for ever.
I let out a small imprecation under my breath as I heard this on the radio while driving home from work. Not because I had not bought a diamond for my wife (I am a big miser) but because of the way the media brainwashes us into believing that love is directly proportional to the cash you spend on the object of your affections. And that a diamond is the best way of expressing what’s in your heart.
Why a diamond? Why not bubblegum?
Because it’s the most expensive thing you can think of.
Which prompts me to ask myself: Why oh why is the most ethereal of concepts ie love to be measured by the most corporeal of concepts ie cash?
I understand what drives the diamond merchants and card vendors and the sellers of soft toys—after all Valentine’s Day is exclusively a capitalistic endeavor, aggressively promoted by the media only as a vehicle to sell merchandise that people do not really need so much so that I sometimes suspect that Valentine is the name of the guy who founded Hallmark cards.
Their game plan is to make an association with buying otherwise-useless things that have high profit margins with “love” and push this association explicitly through media advertisements and implicitly through movies and television soaps.
Quite a racket.
But why do sensible, otherwise level-headed women fall for this sham–especially with respect to the buying of diamonds? I mean tell a lady that the sweatshirt she is going to buy has been made by bonded laborers who work under horrible conditions where the price of refusal to work is the cutting off of hands and odds are that they are going to walk away.
However this is exactly how most diamonds are mined and most women seem to have no compunctions about it. Tell me, how many women on getting a diamond ring or diamond jewelery ever stop to think as to how that thing got there, whether it is a “conflict diamond” or not or how truthful “certificates of authenticity” actually are.
Now now you say. All this is just an excuse for Greatbong not to buy a diamond.
Which incidentally is right.
[For instance, I refuse to buy a fur coat for my wife because an animal was killed to provide for a humans entertainment. It’s quite another thing that I believe that a chicken exists for the sole purpose of attaining nirvana in a tandoor.]
You will also tell me how deluded I am: women don’t want diamonds or expensive things—they want gestures. And gestures don’t cost money—or get anyone be-handed.
Nice. So what kind of gestures? Why a simple bouquet of flowers. Just a sign to show the man cares. How touching. Now if I told you that the bouquet of flowers I have in my hand was not bought from some chic flowershop but was painstakingly collected by me from the tombstones of the local graveyard , would it be quite so saccharine?
After all, taking flowers people have left on gravestones required more effort than just buying them at a store.
Or giving you a diamond ring and then adding that this was something I gave my last girl-friend which she returned when we broke up?
Would I get brownie points for that?
No I don’t think I would.
Which brings me to my central point of Valentine’s day as seen from the female perspective: did you spend money on me?
If you did, you are a sensitive man.
Else you are a mean-minded ogre who “has changed” !
But wait, gifts work both ways—-guys also get stuff on Valentine’s days. But they are girlie things too—tie pins, pens, scents, aromatic candles, chocolates, musical cards (which woe betide you if you cannot find after a few years) and sometimes even that monstrosity—soft toys.
It’s not as if there aren’t enough occasions for giving sappy gifts—birthdays, anniversaries and such like. But no we have to add one more superfluous occasion on top.
It also puts undue stress on those who do not have a “Valentine”—especially in a country like India where unbridled male-female interaction is an opportunity open to a few.
Valentine’s day, like all capitalistic constructs, is thus primarily divisive—meant to amplify the divide between the haves and the havenots or in this case the “getting it” with the “getting it nots”.
Valentine’s Day–Hai Hai.
[Vday Disclosure: I took a bunch of carnations, a card and chocolate home —-so that my wife still believes that I am a softy at heart. Which shows I dont necessarily practice what I preach. Aaah well.]