V Day 2004

Rakshat Hooja

Rakshat Hooja lives in Jaipur. In his early forties, he is still trying to figure out what to do in life. He loves watching sports, reading and discussing politics.


My maternal grandfather, Shri Khem Chand ji, passed away on 14th Feb 2004.

He lived well into his 90s.We grand kids had a great time 'hanging' out with him for over 20 odd years. Now, it has been quite a few years since Nanaji's death.

Nanaji tending to his garden.

Nanaji tending to his garden.


With that said, 14th February is Valentine's Day. It is also a date I always remember. Supposedly a celebration of love. For young single men it is a day of hope. You may just get lucky and score a date with that girl way out of your league.

Arguably, I was young and definitely single in 2004. Almost all my friends will tell you that I have no hesitation in asking a girl out. The 2 or 3 who are good at maths will also tell you that my success percentage is the reason that the decimal system had to be invented!

On Valentine's day in 2004, I was in Delhi. I asked this quite smart, very hot and totally beyond of my league girl out for a date. She worked for a non-profit and, this may sound sexist, had that magnetic and irresistible appeal that the intellectual+attractive combo offers. But I digress. The part that matters is that she said Yes. From an atheist, I turned into an agnostic, thanked God and upgraded my standing in my own eyes.

Come Valentine's day, I remember buying a bunch of red roses. Maybe even shaved, which is a very rare thing for me to do. This may also have been the only time I have bought roses in my life, without a prank in mind.

Rakshat with beard and without.

With beard and without.


Anyway, I picked up my date. Was a little late, she faked anger, the roses worked their charm, she was happy and we went to a restaurant that she had picked. Things were going well at the restaurant. Genuine or acting, she seemed into me and we were really enjoying ourselves. Under-the-table mock kicking each other is always a good sign of how a date is going and future possibilities. I was seriously considering upgrading my standing in my own eyes again when my cellphone rang!

Over the phone my Dad told me that my Nanaji had passed away. And we decided to drive down to Jaipur immediately. Now, sometimes I can be overly stoic. So, without any setup or realizing she had not heard the other side of my phone conversation, I calmly told her I had to leave right now.

She was shocked. I remember her saying "seriously" but it may have been WTF. She really thought I was bailing from the date and could not believe that I was ditching her. I immediately upgraded my cool quotient in my own eyes and proceeded to explain the situation to her. Once she understood, all was ok, and I left. How the date would have gone became one of the what ifs of my life.

We reached Jaipur by late evening and after having spent some time with my family, I decided to call my morning date.

She was quite sympathetic and politely asked how my parents and family members were doing. Then she asked what was the plan for tomorrow. A very innocuous question where, I guess, she expected me to talk about the funeral schedule.

I told her that since a lot of my cousins were here and because my grandfather loved his whiskey, maybe we will have a small get-together over drinks and tandoori chicken. An honest and totally wrong answer. "So, you are partying in Jaipur!" boomed her voice and the phone was cut. Subsequent calls that day were not answered.

And so ended the Valentine's Day 2004.

It's not all a sad story. She did pick up my phone subsequently and we definitely had the whiskey plus tandoori chicken combo next day.

Let's cut to the present - just a few days ago:

My mother was confirming the date my Nanaji had passed away on. I was quick to say "14th February, it is a date I will never forget". My mother somberly looked at me, with her expression saying she understood my pain; just as my thoughts drifted to the magnetic and irresistible appeal of intellectual+attractive women!


A wonderful tribute to someone who loved to think he was a sharabi and kababi

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