Friends are the best confidants, parents can be a little too conservative, moms are still a girl’s best friend, sex education in school is not a norm and SMS and chat is the best way to get your feelings across—half-a-dozen teenagers disclosed all this and more over pizza and cola. Divya, Avinash and Ayush, all 15, are appearing for their class X board exams and say V-Day preparations are at an all-time low. Utkarsh, Ishita and Ambika, all 14, are not happy about the big day falling on a Saturday. “Valentine’s Day is most fun when it falls on a weekday,” says Utkarsh. Edited excerpts:
What do you think about Valentine’s Day? Are you excited?
Ambika: Kids in my class plan for it big time.
Divya: Some of my classmates are making cards—5ft-long cards, with hearts,
chocolates, gifts like big teddy bears holding red hearts. Actually, only boys do all this stuff.
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Avinash: That’s true. In my class boys do this, but this time we are in class X and Valentine’s Day is falling during prep holidays, so the fervour is less. Last year all the boys who had girlfriends spent the day walking with them, talking to them.
What do the teachers say when they see girls and boys together on Valentine’s Day?
Ayush: Every teacher knows what is happening but they don’t say anything.
Are you allowed to exchange gifts at school?
Ayush:We don’t carry the gifts in our hands. We hide them in our bags or our friends hide them for us.
Ambika: The teachers do big time checking of our bags and desks before and on Valentine’s Day. They even check our cars.
And if you are caught with gifts…
Ambika: Well, the teacher confiscates the gifts in our school.
Ayush:Not in our school. They don’t say anything. We tell them that we have got it for our girlfriend(s) and request them to let us keep it. They ask us to keep them inside and not flaunt the gifts.
Divya: Even in our school, teachers are quite sweet about it.
Utkarsh: In our school, if the teachers take away the gifts, they give them back at the end of the day. It depends from teacher to teacher really.
Ayush: I got caught once with a gift but I told the teacher it was for my girlfriend. She told me to keep it inside and give it to my girlfriend after school. I had asked my friend to buy the gift. And no, I did not ask my parents for the money. I saved up my pocket money.
Have any of you boys received a gift on Valentine’s Day?
Utkarsh:Yeah. Last year I got a card, and chocolates. But I did not think I was going to get a gift. It was a surprise. I knew that she was keen on me, but I did not know she really liked me. It was a declaration, one that embarrassed me but also made me happy.
Is Valentine’s Day overrated, just a lot of hype, or is it a serious day for teenagers?
Ambika: It is a good way for boys and girls to interact.
Ayush: It is tough otherwise just to go up and tell a girl you like her. On Valentine’s Day, it is much easier. It is a special day and you feel that maybe this is one day she will say yes if you ask her to go out with you.
Ambika: If we like the guy, we will say yes on a normal day too.
Ishita: We don’t wait for 14 February to declare ourselves, by the way.
Avinash:Good to know that. Now we won’t have to wait till Valentine’s Day to approach a girl.
How do you know that someone in your class has feelings for you?
Divya: You just know.
Ayush: What are friends for? They tell you.
Ishita: That person will somehow show you that he likes you. They will be overly concerned about you. They will talk about you to their friend, who will talk to your friends, and that’s how you come to know.
Is it easier to talk to someone or SMS your feelings?
Avinash: SMS is easier. A lot of kids with cellphones tend to SMS or talk only at night, not in the afternoon, because otherwise parents are around to hear us. I think it is because they are both shy and afraid of their parents.
Divya: Either is okay.
Ayush: I feel shy to talk about my feelings. SMS is better. Chatting is easier than emailing, though.
Ishita: I agree. Chatting online is a better way to communicate.
How open are parents to the idea of their child having a girlfriend/boyfriend?
Divya: You can’t generalize it. It depends from parent to parent. Some of my friends have parents who are super-conservative. My mom is cool and I can tell her anything.
Ambika: I don’t think we should be scared of our parents, and should tell them everything.
Utkarsh: You can’t really tell your mom you like a girl. It is silly.
If you want to talk about someone you like, who do you talk to?
Ishita: Mom. At least for girls, it is easier.
Divya: Friends and mother. Friends sail in the same boat and tend to be more understanding about the situation.
Avinash: Maybe mom, but never my dad. I don’t think it is easy to tell friends. They spread the story to everyone in the class and that is embarrassing. You have to be careful which friend you talk to.
Utkarsh: It’s even tougher to talk to an older brother.
Ayush: I think you can talk to an older sister but never to a younger sibling. Friends are still the best people to confide in.
What about dating?
Utkarsh: What’s the problem in that?
Ishita: As long as you know your limit, there is no problem.
Ayush:I think parents have a problem with that word/concept. You can’t really tell them, “I have a date and so I will be late.”
Divya: As long as you don’t have to lie about a date it is fine. Some of my friends do lie…but I see their point of view. When parents are unnecessarily conservative, what to do?
Ishita: I have a friend who lives in a joint family and her mother is really conservative. She was not allowed to go for a school camp because boys were coming. I think if she lies it is really her mom’s fault for not listening to her in the first place.
Ambika: It is good when parents care for you and are concerned but too much strictness is stifling.
Avinash: My folks can be conservative sometimes. They want to know where I am going, what I am doing, etc. That upsets me but I guess they do that because they care for me.
Which movie in recent times do you think showed romance the right way?
Ayush: Jab We Met. I liked the relationship between the girl and the boy. I think that girl was courageous. When she realized that she loved the other guy, she had the guts to follow her heart.
Ishita: Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na
I felt Jaane Tu subscribed to the old adage—a boy and girl can never be just friends. Do you agree?
If you want advice about how to deal with your girlfriend/boyfriend, do you only speak to friends of the same gender?
Ayush: I think my friends who are girls often have better advice.
What about sex education? Any classes in school on that topic?
Ayush:Yeah! We had a session when we started class X. It was for boys only. The girls had their session when they were in class IX. We were given advice, and we could ask any questions. We knew about it in advance and even got to prepare for it. Senior boys, teachers and counsellors took the session. They played games like blowing balloons to explain stuff. They also divided us into groups and then we could discuss.
Avinash: It is not a regular monthly thing, though. For us it was just a one-day session and it was not a discussion between boys and girls.
Divya:In our school, we had two sessions. One was just for girls and the other for boys and girls together. But (it) is just a talk that we have to listen to. It is not a Q&A session. These were held in our class with our section teachers. But we can always approach the school counsellor if we have a problem.
(Ambika, Ishita and Utkarsh haven’t had any sex education sessions.)
Do your parents approach the topic of sex with you?
Ishita: When that Delhi Public School MMS scandal happened, my mom was really tense. She came to me and talked about it and explained the whole issue.
Ayush: My parents don’t ask anything about these things. But if they ever were to talk about stuff like this, it would be easier if they started the topic. I don’t think I will ever broach it with them.
Avinash: My folks have never approached this topic in a serious manner. Sometimes in a joke my dad will say something.
Ishita: Understanding the other person and respecting them. Like in Jaane Tu… Aditi’s boyfriend slaps her. I don’t think she should have gone out with him because any boy who loves you will never behave so disrespectfully.
Utkarsh: Liking everything about the person.
Ayush: Being able to talk to the person.
Avinash:Being able to confide in someone.