Love & Biryani
Angela Mathew | Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Valentine’s Day is a huge deal in America. Even if you ignore the unbridled consumerism (candy, flowers, expensive gifts) there is so much emphasis on celebrating the day even if you’re not in a romantic relationship. Just walking around my residence hall, with most of the bulletin boards awash in various shades of pink, emblazoned advertisements for love themed events.
Though the day’s fixation on love can be a bit much, I’ve enjoyed the chance to celebrate the people who’ve seen me through two and a half years of college.
So far my Valentine’s/Galentines celebrations have involved accepting my roommate’s spontaneous invitation to go to the Bee Club’s meeting in Debart to drink tea with honey, color apian themed Valentines (pre-school style, with actual crayons!) as the most iconic film about cross species love (“Bee Movie” 2007) played on the projector.
I also upheld some consumerism (for a good cause!) by helping to deliver flowers to dorms as part of P-dub’s Carnation Sale. It was heartwarming to see the cute notes people had written to each other and fun to talk to the obliging strangers who helped me locate their fellow dorm mates’ rooms.
Other Galentine’s Day plans are in the works from rounding up friends for ‘all you can eat’ sushi to meshing different friend groups to paint pottery. Honoring love one random Tuesday a year seems trite but it gives us a nice structure to remember our friends. Amidst the chaos of college life and people’s parents visiting for JPW, I know that these plans will take around a month to actually happen.
But that’s okay because I love when love is like pleasant background noise, instead of punctuated.
I love how love sneaks into my daily life.
Love is when my dad will read every line of a twelve page essay and give me feedback over WhatsApp. Love is his questions about the progress of various drafts of pieces that others may not even realize are subtly different.
Love is conversations with my close friends where we commiserate — about not getting a certain internship, about people who don’t respond to our texts, new friends who don’t seem as enthusiastic as we are. Love is whining about being busy and gossiping about people we both know in rapid back and forths that would be unintelligible and annoying to most other people. Love is listening with interest as they talk about clubs or jobs you know nothing about.
Love is phrases from my favorite books living rent-free in my mind, materializing whenever I have writer’s block and letting me remember stories I’ve re-read too many times. Some of my favorites from “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are:
“Her joy … a restless thing, flapping its wings inside her.”
“With him, she was at ease: her skin felt as though it was the right size.”
And some whimsical ones from “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy:
“The loss of Sophie Mol stepped softly around the Ayemenem House like a quiet thing in socks.”
“The yellow wasp wasping against the windowpane in a dangerous dzzzz.”
Love is spending Christmas Eve in pajamas peeling 12 potatoes with my mom who took on the valiant task of teaching me how to cook. With our other festive plans cancelled because of family members being ill or only coming home closer to New Year’s Eve, we spent the day making biryani — a dish of spicy rice, mutton, fried onions and potatoes (in our version). Though that day and the following weeks of break were spent chopping, shelling, stirring and steaming, I am by no means a good cook. However, I’ll always value those times with my mom a lot, especially when I’m contemplating ordering overpriced biryani from India Garden in South Bend.
Love is a friend asking the question “What are you excited for?” when you run into each other after months. Catching up on the highlights of each others’ lives and getting thrown back into the memories and mindsets you had the last time you spoke, as if the conversation was a sort of time capsule.
Love is my sister taking time out from her days working in a hospital to share pictures of cute cats with me or to tell me theories about Jane Austen, Vikram Seth, George R.R. Martin and her other favorite authors who I don’t know much about, except from her.
Love is telling college friends about my hometown, about my favorite street food and bookstores, about art-deco architecture, crowded footpaths and the salty air.
Go celebrate love wherever you find it!
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.