From Valentine to Quarantine | Daily News

From Valentine to Quarantine

Today is a dark day for the majority of young men and women who live in urban and semi-urban areas in Sri Lanka. Today most of them are waiting in lines opposite ATM machines and others who do not have money in their bank accounts are trying their best to obtain some money from their parents, relations, friends and anyone who is willing to give them a loan. Many of them will not repay the money they obtain today from someone. It is not their fault. It is the fault of their upbringing. Unfortunately some youths may be in jail today after attending yesterday’s illegal ‘parties’.

But today is just another bright day for the young women and men who live in faraway rural areas in the country who work day and night in their paddy fields and other agricultural lands in villages to feed the country and themselves. They have enough money in their pockets today and they will have time and money to express their love and care for their lovers and spouses today and tomorrow without any issue. We are talking about yesterday. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

The most pathetic part and the funniest part of yesterday’s Valentine Day celebration is not any of those. It is starting ‘Quarantine’ today after celebrating ‘Valentine’ yesterday. By now many who took part in various illegal ‘parties’ yesterday may have got infected with COVID-19 and soon they will develop symptoms. Maybe some of them will infect their aged parents before developing any symptoms and may be no symptoms will develop in them at all while suffering from COVID-19 because they are asymptomatic patients. Anyway their Valentine will end up in quarantine.

Last Friday, well ahead of the Valentine’s Day, Sri Jayewardenepura University sources revealed that the highly transmissible new variant of the COVID-19 virus with UK lineage has been identified in samples received from Colombo, Avissawella, Biyagama and Vavuniya. It means the new highly transmissible COVID-19 virus has been reported from every end of the country. Having the virus in Colombo is adequate in order to distribute it all over the country because people visit Colombo daily from almost all parts of the country. It is impossible to think that celebrating Valentine’s Day did any good to control this situation. The police were constantly warning last week against holding various illegal drug parties organized through the Internet (Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.).

Valentine’s Day celebration has become an excellent business opportunity for a part of the business community and some crooks who are waiting for this day to sell useless stuff they stored for months. Unfortunately the present young generation falls into the trap of these businessmen, crooks, etc and hand over all the money they earned during the previous year. Some young people snatch money of their parents, relations, etc for the same purpose. Some youths even steal things and are involved in robberies to find money. Money is everything on Valentine’s Day.

If you go around in towns, shops and shopping malls, you will be able to see what is available in the market for Valentine’s Day. Nothing useful is available. The majority of stuff is just fancy items which anyone will keep for some time and throw away once he or she receives something new. They will get added to the environment, polluting the environment more. Hardly things that are good for health or the brain.

According to a businesswoman who sells fancy items at a shop close to Colombo city, the schoolchildren come to her shop in their school uniforms when Valentine’s Day is nearing in order to buy fancy items. They look for the biggest and the most expensive stuff such as artificial flowers, teddy bears, etc. The woman said when she tells them that certain things are in high demand, the school children who visit her shop in school uniform forget what they were looking for and buy the stuff suggested by her no matter how much money they need to spend in order to buy it.

It is very interesting to see what is behind this trade game. Past generations were in love just as the present generation. But there is a huge difference. In the past our parents knew that they loved each other and they did not show it openly or try to measure it up using consumable items. Trust and faithfulness existed much more in relationships in the past. Love and care was expressed during hard times in life and not in good times. But now love and care are expressed only during the good times and not during the bad times. It is also through the consumable items and not through acts of love or long-term behaviour.

On one side there are lovers who are waiting to show their love through various expensive consumable items and on the other side there are lovers who are waiting to consume various items received from their lovers during this season. For the same purpose, many have more than one lover. More lovers mean more consumable items. Love is being measured by the monetary value of the consumable items. All lovers compare what they received from their lover with what has been received by others from their lovers. This is what businessmen and crooks are waiting for.

Fortunately this plague has not affected that much of our rural community. The rural young men and women work day and night for agricultural activities and other industrial activities and they hardly have time to spend on the Internet, television or on their mobile phones. Because of this partial shutdown, they rarely fall into the traps of the businessmen and crooks during this season. On the other hand still they have pure love in their lives and in their homes because their lives and homes have not been contaminated like in urban and semi-urban homes. They lead simple lives with fewer requirements.

After watching this ongoing disaster during this season, some Buddhist Bhikkus try their best to curb this Valentine’s Day menace through organizing religious events and preaching the emptiness of this event. But still the disastrous impact of this event born in the West continues here in Sri Lanka no matter who tries to stop it.

What we can do is change the current disastrous way of celebrating this event into a more productive way. But the main role of this task lies with our business community. The business community should not offer useless and expensive consumable items to the young generation. They should offer healthy stuff for the young generation which will enhance their physical and mental health. International book fairs and book exhibitions, medical exhibitions, job markets, etc., can be organized aiming at Valentine’s Day. This will make the young generation wiser.

State institutions can also organize various fairs and exhibitions during this season of the year in order to promote locally made products, etc. Both state and private hospitals can organize specific health checkups such as BMI calculation, basic health checkups, etc., for young men and women. It will make the young generation healthier.

Without just offering time belts to businessmen and crooks in order to make money, television channels can focus their programmes on the advancement of physical and mental wellbeing of young men and women during this season, especially during the days close to the Valentine’s Day. These changes will ease the congestion during the upcoming New Year festive season.

If the business community can make changes into their schedules, styles, trends, etc., other changes will take place automatically because people buy what is commonly available in the market and not what they actually need or want. Now Valentine’s Day is over and all of these suggestions can be implemented next year if the businessmen and others really care for the younger generation.