Yet another Valentine’s Day went by. Surprisingly Hyderabad this year wasn’t blushing all that much; at a little cafe in the city, a few members of the Valentine fraternity share their stories.

It’s rather warm for February. The hands of the clock atop the mantel stop at 12 ‘o’ clock. Valentine’s Day has ended and the city is lit by the warm, short-lived glow of love rekindled. The door creaks and in walks a rather busy looking bloke; his slick suit is buttoned up and his eyes often blink orange and green. A lady in red sits by the counter, her lacy red dress hanging limp on the chair, tired from all the work she’s done for the day. A stubby looking bench of concrete is lounging around. A pale young man, said to suffer from sudden anxiety attacks, sat in the corner, nervously peeping out of his boxy jacket. Hiding behind a small chair is a thin tattooed bloke with scratches on his face.

The chap with buttons on his belly, nervously scratches his head and screams, “Enough. I can’t ring anymore! I am a cellphone, not a machine!” Everyone except the lady in red moved towards the man who is trembling and blinking furiously. She looks up slowly and says “you seem to be having the Valentine blues young man...” “I’m Rose, I’ve been doing this long enough; you can even find my pictures in greeting cards and posters.”

The Concrete bench stretches his arms out and bellows, “It’s easy for you to say. But before Hallmark and Hollywood taught people to give each other flowers, they were sitting around with each other; and who do you think they were sitting on? Me! Now, all of a sudden these ‘activists’ and ‘preservers of culture’ are driving away couples from me! They run away and I invariably take the beating on their behalf!”

Rose’s mate, Chocolate chimes in, “I used to be a big deal. I never went out if not wrapped in gold or silver but now , they just put me in anything. McDonalds has me swirling with boring old vanilla for just Rs. 49 these days.”

The tattooed bloke looks up, rather angry. “What are you people complaining about? At least you get to be in the presence of Love. I, on the other hand, am a sorry excuse of a person. Literally. As an excuse slip I have to listen to a bunch of lies and then face angry bouts of sarcasm from whoever reads me — My uncle’s aunty is ill. The dog ran away. Sinuses flared up...yada yada yada. This year’s winner was this girl who said she locked herself up in a room, more like she locked herself up in Goa with a few friends extending her weekend!”

The Tissue box gets up, visibly upset and says, “I’ll take lies and sarcasm over loneliness and insecurity. Aparna Raju, third year engineering student dried up all her tears using me, you see she was stood up by her boyfriend today! Saranya Diwakar is planning to watch a movie all by herself in GVK Mall! Pity.”

“You better hope she isn’t going to watch The Notebook with Ryan Gosling in it,” exclaims Rose. The cellphone sighs, “I don’t know how long you guys are going to be around. I want to say real gestures count for something but from what I’ve been reading — texts, emails, instant messages — I’m starting to doubt that. Want to show someone you love them? Say it on Facebook. Feeling sorry for yourself? Time for an emo status message. Going out with your girlfriends? Time to flash those smiles and take pictures. And who is going to risk getting chased off a park bench when you have Skype? You’re slowly becoming a part of that era only hipsters identify with and those guys think romantic gestures are too mainstream for them anyway. This is probably a good time to start thinking of retirement. Anyway 21 missed calls! I better go answer them,” the cellphone leaves.