As I woke up on Saturday morning, a day before Valentine’s Day, I was left stupefied by a shocking piece of news on Dawn.com.
The headline read: “President urges people not to observe Valentine’s Day.”
Shaking my head with disbelief, I wondered if it was merely a clever piece of satire.
Giving in to curiosity, I gave the article a read.
While the story indeed seemed real, it wasn’t any less surprising:
“President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday urged people of the country not to observe Valentine’s Day, saying that it was not a part of Muslim tradition, but of the West. Addressing a function, the president said: “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided.”
Still skeptical, I decided to seek confirmation. Here, I emailed my editor at Dawn, texted my contacts at other newspapers, called my therapist, messaged my friends on Facebook, and even spoke to my parents.
Yes, dear readers, it is true. Apparently this country does have an incumbent president and his name is Mamnoon Hussain. Clearly, we didn’t know he existed until now because he didn’t have a national issue as pressing as Valentine’s Day to speak against.
(No-Ishq-e-)Mamnoon Hussain’s words resonated with me. He was right. Valentine’s Day had no connection with our culture.
The fact that he delivered this speech in English, a language of a culture other than our own, merely seemed like intelligent commentary on how deeply Western culture had been adopted by Pakistanis.
Impressed by the President’s stance, I Googled some of his images. Here are a few of them:
I was impressed by his devotion. Clearly, in an attempt to highlight how widely Pakistan has adopted Western culture, President Mamnoon Hussain had worn dashing Western suits in the vast majority of his public appearances. What’s more, he was wearing a red tie and handkerchief in every picture.
“Aha!” I thought. “This is more intelligent commentary on the integration of imperialist Western culture. This man pretends to celebrate Valentine’s Day every day of the year. I haven’t seen such dedication in method acting since Heath Ledger took on the role of The Joker!”
I certainly appreciated the president’s wisdom. In a country suffering from target killings, honor killings, extortion, kidnappings, poverty, corruption, terrorism, illiteracy, forced conversions, child marriages, rapes, gang rapes, child molestations, obviously for a president, the evils of Valentine’s Day were top priority.
Or perhaps he just needed a girlfriend.
At an anti-Valentine's Day protest I asked a niqab clad protestor why she was at the rally. “Because adopting elements of a foreign culture are wrong ya akhi!” she shouted. I was taken aback. “But isn’t the niqab you are wearing an element of foreign culture too?" I replied
“This is a good start,” I mused. “Let’s start by banning Valentine’s Day, and then perhaps we can ban men like Maulana Fabdul Fabreeze, who openly sympathizes with militant outfits like Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and ISIS. Surely Valentine’s Day is more dangerous than someone who speaks openly against the state.”
This, I decided was the right time to attend an anti-Valentine’s Day protest in sweltering Karachi.
Here, I was surprised to see many of the female demonstrators dressed in pink and red hijabs a day before V Day. “More clever commentary,” I nodded to myself.
I asked one of the niqab clad protestors why she was at the rally.
“Because adopting elements of a foreign culture are wrong ya akhi!” she shouted.
I was taken aback. “But isn’t the niqab you are wearing an element of foreign culture too? And, didn’t you use Arabic words? Also, isn’t that banner in English?”
“HOW DARE YOU CONFUSE ME WITH LOGIC!” she screamed.
Taken aback, I walked away to another lady who was dressed in a black niqab.
“What brings you to this protest?” I asked.
“Bro… I’m just looking for a date,” the rather masculine voice hit back.
My eyes widened as this mystery person slowly revealed his face.
It was Maulana Fabdul Fabreeze.
Responding to the quizzical look on my face, the Maulana explained, “Look. What better location to find a date than a place where dozens of heartbroken women are protesting against Valentine’s Day? By the way, just to let you know, the girl in the second row is Mamnoon. I found out the hard way bro. The mustache tickles.”
When I asked the Maulana why so many Pakistanis hated Valentine’s Day, he said, “Dekho. It is what I call Maulana’s First Law of V-Day. The degree to which you are involved in a happy relationship is inversely proportional to how much you despise Valentine’s Day. The last thing you need when alone and unhappy is to see pink and red colors thrust in your face everywhere in the city, and chocolates being sold at every corner.”
“Maulana, what other places have you tried to get a date?”
“Well, I was chatting online with this girl called InnocentAngel421 and things were getting hot and heavy. After months she finally showed me her finger nails. When I begged her to show me her face, it wasn’t what I expected. Can you guess who it was?”
When I asked the Maulana why so many Pakistanis hated Valentine’s Day, he said, “Dekho. It is what I call Maulana’s First Law of V-Day. The degree to which you are involved in a happy relationship is inversely proportional to how much you despise Valentine’s Day.
“It was our man in the western suits, wasn’t it?”
“Yes. Yes it was. That guy really needs a date. All this Valentine’s Day hate makes him a prime example of Maulana’s First Law of V-Day.”
Ignoring the fake Maulana, I moved deeper into the protest, where I chanted, “Down with overpriced flowers! Down with substandard chocolates!”
Later in the evening I received a call on my cellphone.
It was my wife, “Hey, it is Valentine’s Day. You didn’t forget right?”
“Oh s***!” I whispered as I raced towards my car.
The fake Maulana was correct. Valentine’s Day only has the potential to be unpleasant when you have no one to share it with. I remember when I was single and would be accosted with boys selling flowers at every traffic signal on Valentine’s Day.
“Sir, please buy these roses for your wife.”
“I am not married.”
“OK, how about for your girlfriend?”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“I am sorry. What about a cousin you are interested in who for now calls you bhai?”
“Look, I am happy being single.”
“Sure you are. Sure you are.”
All jests aside, single or not, I’ve never had a problem with Valentine’s Day.
In a relationship, it is a wonderful occasion to celebrate a healthy happy partnership. When, single, it is a time to rejoice in the bond between you and your parents, siblings, cats, or InnocentAngel421. In our busy lives if we pledge one year to appreciating our loved ones without dabbling in needless commercialism, then what’s wrong with that?
So don’t be bitter. Don’t be a part of Maulana’s First Law of V-Day.
Disclaimer: This article is categorised as humour/satire. Its content is not meant to be read literally, and the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the writer or the views of the IMAGES editorial staff.
What happens when you celebrate Valentine's Day with Mamnoon and protesters? I find out