by Abisola Johnson
Bisola shares her Valentine’s Day experience…
I have a super strong sense of smell and somehow it makes my life more interesting. I take a deep breath and even though the skies are clear, I can smell the rain coming. I’m not fooled by the creamy, healthy look of oats, I smell it and I know it’s not something I want in my mouth. I know when to politely tell a mother I can’t hold her baby and I know when to offer. What’s more amazing is how I can smell seasons and holidays…no joke! I always say if the world somehow lost its calendar records, I’ll be able to sniff out that special Christmas morning.
As I drifted out of sleep, I smelt the air and knew it was Valentines Day. Maybe I knew because of the many messages I had received from midnight, or because everything on TV the night before was about love, love and more love or maybe it was that I had helped to decorate the office with red and white balloons twelve hours ago, whatever you think…I choose to believe I smelt it.
We were mandated to wear red to work and even though I’m hardly a rebel, red isn’t one of my favorite colors so I ended up in a black dress that reflected more lust than love….which brings me to my first question, is Valentine a celebration of lust or love? And may I say; when I talk about lust, I don’t necessarily mean Mrs. Devil in a tight red dress trying to get every man into hell. The newly weds that can’t stop staring at each other…love or lust?
Anyways, I got to work and everyone was happy or hopeful. Just after breakfast, my first bouquet of flowers arrived, twelve roses from Femi, my ‘would have been boyfriend’ if Tunji wasn’t my boyfriend, he says he’s my ‘soon to be boyfriend’ once Tunji becomes my ‘ex-boyfriend’…I’m just as confused.
After the parade of admiring them and thinking in my head “Is that all? Twelve roses?” I considered sending them to my mother, who I send flowers every Valentine…this is why “Abisola, Happy Valentines day! May you find better love than I did and may you never wonder if you’ll get flowers on this special day. Love always. Your Mama” If she was a techy person, I’d conclude she automated that message to get to me 12.00am every 14th of February.
After a lot of contemplation and being my only bouquet as at 10am, I decided to keep it and order my mums. I had my colleague go with me to a flower shop and after shunning three long queues, we ended up in a smaller shop with a shorter queue. After fifteen minutes, I was the second on line and couldn’t help eavesdropping as the lady in front of me made her order “A dozen roses, a dozen Lilies, six tulips and six orchids” for the size of her bouquet, she got a free glass vase. I was just as curios when the shop attendant asked her for the message to go with the flowers “Happy Valentines day Ada, from your secret admirer” ok! Was she gay? I couldn’t hide my look of confusion until the attendant wanted to write a receipt and asked for her name “Ada”. As she walked out of the shop, I stared after her, the attendants’ voice broke my thoughts “We get a lot of that”.
As we drove back to work, I couldn’t help thinking…what makes a woman buy herself flowers and addresses it “from a secret admirer”. Was she trying to get someone jealous? Was she embarrassed because her table was the only empty one at work? Or was she just trying to show herself some love if no one else would?
I got to work and there was a full display from Tunji….about time!
As everyone went on and on about their gifts, surprises and disappointments, I concluded that this day, St. Valentine’s Day is actually over-rated and misconstrued. Isn’t it about a man who was jailed for the sake of the gospel and healed his jailer’s blind daughter even though he knew he was going to be killed? That’s true love! Today, who would give gifts to someone they’re not expecting gifts or some form of thank you from? Not even me. So then, love or lust? If the lady at the flower shop had sent flowers to her mum, sister or best friend, would she have had a better day? Or was it ok to make the world think there was some guy somewhere crazy about her? I tried to imagine the look on her face when a delivery man walks into her office with a massive bouquet of flowers and says “this is from your secret admirer” or better still, recognizes her from the shop and says “Madam, this is what you asked us to deliver” that was easier to picture.
Just before I left the office determined to head straight home and avoid the love traffic that comes with Valentines Day, I got a call from my friend and she went on about how she had exchanged poems with her valentine, I thought that was sweet…maybe even the best I had heard all day.
Its 11:48pm and there are probably millions of people wishing the day wouldn’t end and millions more that went to bed at 6pm because the day wouldn’t end. Some people are cuddling their new teddy’s to sleep; others are sniffing their flowers and wishing it was from a special person other than themselves. Either way, in 365 days, it’ll be valentine again; some people would be happy, sad or indifferent all over again and again and again and again!