An exclusive cover version of Anirudh’s Valentine’s Day special single ‘Avalukena’, written and directed by Vignesh Shivan

– Mani Prabhu

There are few things in this world as amazing as love.

You think it’s making you fly. You think that it’s driving you insane. Yet, you know that it makes every second of your life worth living. You know that it’s making you feel special. Your stomach flutters, heart thumps more audibly, and your mind races. You are ready to do anything for seeing your partner happy.

But, have you seen your ‘love’ making the whole world, a better place to live in? Have you ever stopped to realize that, in reality, your love could be like the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – a small act of fondness going on to cause huge ripples of happiness all around, with no logical end? Have you ever, unknowingly, passed on your love?

It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s the second one with your special someone and you’re super-excited about meeting her.  How often do you wake up at 7 AM on a Sunday? But wait, how often does Feb 14 fall on a Sunday? Aren’t you sparred the smirk smiles of the boss at your request for a permission? Even as you get ready, you can’t stop smiling, musing over the four-year roller-coaster ride with her. A little moisture in your eyes, as you brush your teeth. Sheepish grins as you gobble up your breakfast. Is there a more ecstatic feeling than this? Varsha. The reason behind all this madness. When you first saw her in class, lights didn’t flash… bells didn’t go off. But after a couple of years, when you looked into her eyes over a friendly coffee, they did.  Tons of silly arguments, heartfelt texts, stupid chatter and 685 days later, the magical moment happened. Seated in a freaking boat at midnight on New Year eve, her hair blowing over her angelic face, she had said ‘Yes’.

Two years had passed since then. But the madness of it all hadn’t diminished a wee bit. While you had been lucky enough to get placed in your city, her job had taken her to another state. When you are in a long-distance relationship, you pounce on any excuse for seeing your partner. To surprise her.  To make her smile. Clichés don’t matter.  Gifts become a pretext to tell her, how much she means to you. So, now all the delirium over the Sunday-Feb 14th combination makes sense, right?  You decide to meet at 11 AM opposite to Amethyst Cafe. On the way, you pick up a colorful bouquet and a show-bulb with a tiny Taj Mahal replica within. But these were just the cheesy embellishments. The centerpiece was something else. After weeks of brain-wriggling, you had gone to LifeStyle the previous evening and had got her a pair of bright red Paprika stilettos. You know that she had always wanted one, despite her not voicing it out. You know it would make her happy.

You arrive at the spot half an hour earlier, and tuck away the gifts-bag snugly behind a tree. You take a few steps and wait for your sweetheart, your stomach in knots and brains all-wired up. And. as you look up to the skies, flashing that gratified smile, would you know that you are about to play angel that freaking moment? If someone now walks up to you and says that you are gonna change the lives of random unknown people, would you laugh?

No, if you believe in the power of love. Like Jegadeshan does. The man, in his early sixties, works as a security guard for an apartment, right opposite one of the most happening cafes in the city. He prefers to call himself Jack, a name that had stuck with him right from school. And he chooses to ‘live’ his life every moment.  As someone had said, age for him, was just a question of mind over matter. He didn’t mind, and so it didn’t matter. For his wife of 38 years, Geetha, he was the same old hopeless romantic he had always been. After two children and three grandchildren, the couple were peacefully reveling in each other’s happiness, when hard times hit. Exactly a week ahead of this fateful day, Geetha had suffered a heart attack. Jack was literally broken – shattered, scattered and confused.

The day, Geetha had walked into his life decades back, Jack’s world had changed forever. She had been an inseparable part of him – giving him a reason to wake up every day with a smile, with new found energy to face life’s unforgiving struggles. For years, never had he felt the need to express his love with words or gifts! They knew they were there for each other, and it seemed romantic enough. But now, when the world around him is celebrating with hearts and kisses- when his wife is in the ICU, recovering from a bypass surgery – he develops this strange feeling. He feels like going to the hospital and giving her something. But, what? How? He had given his life’s savings to the hospital, and his wish could become a reality now, only if someone dropped something from heaven.

And that, someone did. Okay, may be, not from the skies. But who cares? A gleeful smile spreads on Jack’s face as he finds the gifts-bag with a bouquet behind the tree. Like a kid who had just discovered her Christmas present under the bed, he rushes to the security room. He opens a old, unused refrigerator – which doubles up as his cozy wardrobe – takes out the brightest set of clothes he had preserved for years, and wears them with a delightful blush. And clad in a multicolored striped T-shirt, a yellow shirt, white chinos, a yellow cap and shades, he cycles his way to the hospital, the bouquet and the gifts nestled in the bag, slung across his waist. The anticipation of seeing his wife glows in his eyes, like a flickering flame.

ava

For Ravi, the nursing assistant in the ICU where Geetha was admitted, the Sunday couldn’t get any worse. To top it all, it was duty on Valentine’s Day! He had planned to request permission from the Chief, and squeeze in an hour for meeting his childhood sweetheart, Aarthi. He knew that he was one of the very few, who could light up her face. Having grown up in Aarthi’s neighbourhood, he had known her from school days. His best friend for years together, she had always been by his side. She had literally brought him back from the dead, saving him from a dreadful accident, giving both her lower limbs as the price.

Ravi understood the gravity of that sacrifice. If there was anything that he valued more than his own life, it was Aarthi, the reason for his existence. And he knew, the little things in their relationship mattered a lot. Like expressing how much he loves her. In letting her know that she is cherished, every passing second. But destiny seemed to have other plans. Just when he is about to request for a break, a doctor walks by and asks him to keep a watch on a patient. The angst and the pain– it all shows on his face, but is there a way out? Aarthi calls that moment and he struggles to find words. She tries her best to understand, but the disappointment in her voice is killing.  Ravi needed a miracle – something which could take him out to Aarthi.

And when love is in the air, is there a dearth for miracles? Jack, in his sprightly costume and gift bag, arrives at the ICU and tries to meet Geetha. Ravi stops him, informing him of the strict visiting hours. The sullen looks on their faces is not something that can be missed. Jack is all dejected, hours of dreams having collapsed like a stack of cards. He stands by the window, staring blankly at the streets below. Ravi, still hurting from his inability to speak out to his boss, walks and stands beside him. As the two men exchange glances, it strikes them. The miracle had been served.

Opposite to the cafe, as you wait for Varsha to turn up, something makes you check on your bag. It’s missing. What the hell! “Why me?” you can’t stop wondering. If only, you knew, why you!

In the hospital, Jack enters the ICU as the nursing assistant, dressed in Ravi’s uniform and the gift-bag nicely tucked into the nursing trolley. Ravi puts on Jack’s costume in new-found elation and leaves for Aarthi’s residence. You are in a daze, still recovering from the sudden turn of events. Is there enough time to go and get something now? Before Varsha turns up? Jack approaches Geetha, who is sleeping with an oxygen-mask on, and whispers in her ears. She is shocked to see him, but soon recovers to break into a weary smile. At first, she is not so demonstrative about it, but she is feeling something. Ecstasy!

And so does Aarthi, when Ravi turns up in her doorstep in his flashy attire. But she is more expressive compared to Geetha. She can’t stop laughing. A teardrop escapes her eyes, as she struggles with her emotions. The love of her life had indeed come. Out of nowhere.

3

So had Varsha, flashing that magnetic smile of hers, before you could even move from that place. The look on her face – you don’t understand what else would make her happy this way? “Am I that special?”  Even as she gives you a rose and proceeds to hug you with heartfelt joy, doubts eat your mind.

Jack takes a seat by Geetha’s side in the ICU and pulls the trolley towards him. He first takes the bouquet and gives her. Probably, he is giving it to her for the first time. No words are exchanged. A conversation between hearts is unfolding in an atmosphere of pain and suffering. Geetha’s measured blush speaks a million words. She is probably fighting tears. Jack reaches for the trolley again, and feels for the gifts. He chooses the bigger box and places it on her, even as she is lying down. With a mock playfulness in his face, he opens the wrapper and tilts the box so that his wife could see what’s inside. As he simultaneously peeks into it, he is taken aback, but only for a split-moment. Geetha, on seeing the bright-red stilettos, stares at him in shock. As Jack recovers and convinces her on how pretty they would look on her, a priceless twinkle slowly descends into her face. He helps her out of bed, bends down with a chuckle and slips the stilettos into her worn out feet. As Geetha takes baby steps around in that red, five inch high-heels, balancing on her husband, you must have seen the expression on her face. True bliss doesn’t come that easy! It’s enough for her lifetime.

2

Ravi walks up to Aarthi, puts his coolers on her, gives her a rose and instantly lifts her. Carrying her in his hands, he walks up to the terrace, refusing to let her down. He had shown that nothing was more precious to him than her. Even as Aarthi is smiling uncontrollably, she keeps looking deep into his eyes. Again, all language becomes redundant before such powerful emotions.

Varsha, meanwhile, is still in cloud nine. When she calms down a little, she realizes that you haven’t brought anything for her. She looks around, trying to uncover a possible surprise. You attempt an explanation, but she is not ready to believe you.

In the ICU, as someone opens the door, Geetha pulls her stilettos back into the sheets. Jack starts walking back towards the entrance, covering his face, and when he turns back for a moment, he catches Geetha smiling to herself. He knows, he had achieved his greatest feat of all. He had made the woman, who had dedicated her life to him, truly happy for a day. And the pride shows in his walk.

As Jack returns to the apartment on his cycle with the gift-bag, you are still trying to make Varsha understand. And then, you notice your bag. You rush back to Varsha with the smaller gift, the only thing remaining of it. Varsha opens it, inspects the Taj Mahal bulb for a moment and realizing the cheesiness of it all, breaks into a huge grin. You are about to tell her about the missing shoes, but seeing her reaction, you decide not to bring it up. Is she not even a tad disappointed? Then it hits you. She is Varsha. Anything from you, sealed with love, is enough to send her into raptures.

5

And as you walk into the cafe, laughing about the whole episode, all seems to be well at your end. You feel loved and lucky. You indeed are. But, if only, you knew about the cascade of events, you had inadvertently set off, a couple of hours earlier! If only, you realized the difference you had made? If only!

When you truly love someone, with all your heart and soul, you get the power to change a life, which in turn goes on to continue the ripple. That way, love becomes a sort of glue that holds us all together, that makes things in this difficult world more bearable and beautiful. It may not make the world go around, but for sure, it makes the ride worthwhile.

Yes, there are few things in this world as amazing as love.