14 February 2013

Liberia: Valentine's Day - Is It One Day Love?


Dearest Mama,

It has been over a year; almost two years since my arrival in the village. Since my return to my own place of birth, I am amazed at almost every twist and turn. I look to my left; I see black plastic bag flying.

I look to my right; I see the practices that were once alienated to our people - including the sagging of pants and skirts. Thank God you left this village; otherwise you would have become frustrated, disappointed, and sometimes loudly bewildered. I wouldn't want to tell you about the hair cut one of your teenage grandsons is sporting! And please don't ask me what hair little Theo has on his head.

Well, the event in town is Valentine's Day. The day falls on February 14 each year. When I was across the ocean, I would "commentate" events of the day with a grin on my face. That's because, it appears many persons would shelve their love and only unleashed that love on their partners, spouses and love ones on Valentine's Day. I would align Valentine's Day with Mother's Day, wherein most families would take up time to show "affection" to their mothers. At least, most families who had not seen their "Mother" for over six months, would muster the shame to "show love" to their mother's on Mother's Day. While I "commentated" such one day in the year Mother's Day love, my heart would bleed. I would feel a throbbing in my heart for all mothers who deserved to be shown love every moment of every day, and not just on a "makeshift" day observed globally. Did the woman who bore you showed you love on specific days? If a mother is old and/or ill, does it means she cannot appreciate love? In the same vein, should spouses, lovers and friends reserve love and only demonstrate that "deep knitted love" only on Valentine's Day? Is that "love" a calculated one, or one that dies and is resuscitated only on Valentine's Day? If fact, to be blunt; is that LOVE? And what Love? A love of convenience; a love relationship based solely on gains; a love relationship, wherein one partner holds the other on a string - waiting to drop that person anytime, any day?

Mama, in our village today, people are running here, there and everywhere to buy pink or red outfit. In actual fact, your grandson came home announcing that they are to wear Red or Pink to observe Valentine's Day today. Obviously, boys will be wearing red and girls pink.

Mama, as men, women, girls and boys go about scrambling for red roses, heart-shaped bouquets, and pillows, and other items symbolizing Valentine's Day, I hope they scrutinize themselves of the 'Love" they [claim] have for that special person. Should we wait on February 14 to give that special person a small token of Love: flower, love, greeting card, a simple necklace, an extraordinary designed bracelet or ring? Should it? Should/would a mass- observed day demonstrate specialness to the "special" person[s] in your life? Well, tell the folks that the question is theirs and not mine. Better still, "the question is not mine to ask; it is theirs."

As I sit here, I can't help but reflect on the origin of Valentine's Day. Do the villagers know the origin of the day? Did Saint Valentine show love only on February 14? Well, I have been reading about this day for many years- while across the ocean. The most popular stories associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing wedding for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer. It is said that before Saint Valentine execution he wrote "from your Valentine" as a farewell to the daughter of the jailer he healed. So he knew that he was going to be killed!

Today, Saint Valentine's Day is an official date observed in some churches. Long ago, the day was first associated with romantic love. Afterwards, that is long before you were born Mama, the day change into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering sweets, and sending greeting cards. And this is exactly what is happening in the village today.

Mama, as the villagers observe Valentine's Day, I hope they are cognizant of the fact that Love is expressed in our daily interactions, and communications and not reserved only for Valentine's Day. Love cannot be hidden, unless it is not one in the true sense. Mama, I remembered something you told me a long time ago, you said, and I re-echo, "Love when squashed and thrown in the dustbin/trash can/ dump site will glow and brighten the area. That's because, "Love" is a feeling that cannot be hidden, and it is pure and unselfish. The most beautiful aspect of love: Love unleashes itself - makes its presence felt through gestures, facial countenance, and even through a simple touch.

Mama, as I close this letter, I hope that you and Papa will take the time to have a simple drink under the beautiful moonlight. I also hope my brother, Madee and sister, Ceaineh will be nearby, probably reminiscing childhood days. As I sit here, I will look towards the sky; fill my cheek with large amount of air, and blow kisses through the wind, up towards the sky, the stars and moon, which will land on your cheeks. The kisses will be accompanied by a big grizzly bear hug, and a soft sensational message: I Love you yesterday, today, tomorrow and always!

Always, Musue.

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