From being asked to return a rose just freshly delivered to playing Cupid with the wrong name, these are some funny stories.

An illustration for Valentines day bloopers showing four couples sitting standing proposing with heart and cloud symbols in a pink sky
Features Entertainment Sunday, February 14, 2021 - 21:03

Nithya, just about 18, stepped into the campus of Thiruvananthapuram Engineering College on a February 14. It was not her college, she was visiting cousins who were students there. There were programmes going on in the campus, cultural events here and there. Nithya was aware of the looks that came her way, a little annoyed but also flattered by the attention that was new to her. All her years as a bit of a nerd in school had not been quite the same. But the months that led to her 18th birthday must have done the charm. Suddenly she found herself face-to-face with a young man who had a rose in his hand. Before she could make sense of what was going on, she’d been wished a Happy Valentine’s Day.

She blushed, tried to hide it, she was excited, tried to hide that as well. All of this was new, so this is how college life in Thiruvananthapuram would be, she mused. But the joy had lasted only for a few moments. The young man was back again, looking embarrassed. He made a little speech about the price of roses these days and the difficulties in procuring one before awkwardly asking if she could return it. Dazed, Nithya parted with the rose only to find him presenting it to another young woman.

“I realised all the boys were switching from girl to girl, offering roses because they genuinely didn’t have enough. It’s like Rakshabandhan for them. They wanted to give roses to multiple girls but could not afford the roses. Funny thing is I understood their concern. I ended up in retail and I understand the consumer’s psyche,” says a laughing Nithya, who is now based in Dubai.

Valentine’s Day burst into the lives of young people in Kerala in the 1990s, popping up as it did with Archies cards and boxes of candies, pre-mobile-phone days. Roses were given different meanings – red for love and yellow for friendship.

While many romances bloomed, broke up and got retold as evergreen love stories later, there were also bloopers such as the one Nithya faced. This is not a romantic story, we are looking at funny proposals where something went wrong, or as it would seem, right, for some people.

In June 2016, John (name changed) in Thiruvananthapuram decided to propose to his girlfriend of two years by the Shanghumugham beach they frequented in the evenings. Used to exchanging letters in small bills and chits of paper the ‘80s way they were both fond of, Mary (name changed) didn’t especially notice the scribbled bill he pressed in her hands. She mistook it for a waste paper he was offering for her to discard her chewing gum in! Luckily for the paper, it got saved in the nick of time and revealed an image of two stick figures and a single-line proposal behind which John stood smiling ear to ear. The next day Mary wrote her reply in a full scape paper folded multiple times and gave it to John with a straight face. He unfolded it nervously expecting a detailed reply, but found the whole paper filled with pencil-drawn lines and a small ‘yes’ at the bottom of it.

Two decades earlier, in a college in Ernakulam, Seema Lal and her gang of friends were going to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the same day as their college’s 75th anniversary. “We were a gang of six – three men and three women. We didn’t want our friendship to end with college. The three of us women had stayed up all night to prepare for the anniversary celebrations. And waking up cranky, we hastily decided to propose to the men so our friendship would last. Two of us did, the third had a boyfriend already. When we walked up to the men and told them the plan, they were shocked and looking at us in bewilderment. That’s when we came to our senses, realising what we just did. We were so embarrassed and tried to pass it off as a joke but the men kept teasing us. Years later, the same man I proposed to that day would propose to me and he is now my husband and the father of my child. Every Valentine’s Day we would go into a debate on who proposed to whom first!” Seema says.

Exactly 10 years ago, another amusing mix-up almost broke a relationship up in Kochi. Lekshmi had just got her first job and on the eve of Valentine's Day, a friend asked her to help with delivering a gift to a friend’s friend’s boyfriend. He worked in the same building as Lekshmi, and the girlfriend wanted it to be a surprise. Although Lekshmi initially refused to take on Cupid's role, appearing in a strange office with a red rose, she relented in the end. She managed to get a red rose with great difficulty. On the day, she went up nervously with a colleague and asked for the man at the reception. He had not reached. Lekshmi placed the rose on the table and asked them to give it to the man when he came. The receptionist smiled, so did the cleaning staff who were present. She also passed on the girlfriend's message to the man. She wrote it is from ‘Divya’. As it would turn out, the girlfriend's name was ‘Vidya’.

Lekshmi's friend who gave her the task had got it wrong and he passed on too belatedly that both of them were her seniors in college. "I had felt all dizzy that day, thinking of all the possible scenarios that could have happened. What if the man was there when I asked for him? What if someone told him I worked in the same building and he came asking for me? And what will happen when he has no clue who this Divya is. Later I heard from my friend that they ended up having a fight over it! I still don’t think they know it was me who was so kind hearted to have done all these and spoiled their first Valentine’s Day away from each other. They are happily married now and having a charming six year old! I didn't do much damage I guess!"

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