Power outage! Suddenly, my computer crackles and the screen blacks out. That means I can neither write nor browse the internet nor check to see if I have any interesting emails or Valentine's Day wishes. I pull on my thick winter jacket and step out of my apartment. Might as well go see the sights of Huainan on this special lovers' day, I tell myself as I step out the door of my sanctuary.
The stairwell windows are frosted. I wonder if that means it's warmer outside than inside. As I step out the glass doors of the building that houses us guests I sense the balmy warmth that spring welcomes all life with. Yes, spring is in the air! I recall hearing the birds, the few that have not ended up on dinner plates and soup bowls, chirping excitedly to their mates. Perhaps, something tells them, too, it's Valentine's Day! I smile to myself, thinking how many eggs will lie waiting in little nests atop branches a few weeks from now. 'Love is in the air, love is in the streets, love is on the trees...' I compose a song and hum to myself. A few hundred metres away, I unzip my jacket - it feels hot inside those padded jackets.
Every few metres there's someone selling roses and assorted flowers. I pass by a florist's and notice they have extended their shop onto the pavement for the day and will probably overcharge every customer, too. Some flowers have the ends of their petals dipped in silver and gold, adding sheen to the already beautiful...like a sexy siren that paints her lips, darkens her eyelashes and adds some glitter to her cheeks and temples...They - the flowers look beautiful...and I touch one to see if it's real or fake. There's so much fake stuff around these days. It's real! I want to buy a few...but feel silly buying flowers and strolling aimlessly around, a bunch in hand with no one to give them to and decide against it...
I walk further...into the main shopping area and notice more flower-sellers as they push their wares into the faces of couples...they don't bother me...single men with beards have no need for flowers on Valentine's Day, they probably reason. I ignore them as they did me. Tat for tit!
Crowds swell in the prelunch hour as I stroll singing my song that no one seems to hear or understand if they do. I hope some pretty girl will smile at me and push her arm into mine. No one does...my song lies wasted like some flowers will tomorrow...thrown onto the pavement following a quarrel or whatever. At least my song lies wasted without a quarrel, I console myself.
Valentine's day seems to be big all over China. They already had their own and now have an extra one, an import. Well, I suppose, appetites are growing and celebrations need to keep pace with them. I walk on...until I find myself at the glass doors of the building that houses me and my kind...I climb up the four flights and enter my apartment. Power is back and, thankfully, it got there before I did, I think to myself. I switch on the computer and wait as it hums and crackles back to life.
I log onto a chatsite and wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. No one responds, except one, with a 'where are you from?'
'My mother's pu--y', I want to answer out of sheer pique, but desist. It's Lover's Day! Perhaps, on a Lover's Day such as this, I was planted. 'Love is in the air, love is in the streets, love is on the trees...' I hum to myself, 'love is everywhere...but where on earth am I...'
Rajesh Kanoi (Jack) is a published writer, now living and working in China. Many of his short-stories, poems and articles have been published, including a book of short-stories, 'Tales From China' (Lipstick Publishing).