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The 18th day of May, 2016.
It’s a pleasant morning… I watched the sun rise through the window of the aircraft, alone. I’ve learnt one thing… not learnt, rediscovered… The only one that cares about you the most is your mother, be it biological or otherwise. (Obvious?) The one that knows what you want materialistically is... You! No one else. So instead of hoping for something that you want, ask or work for it… This is just the materialistic part that I’m talking about… The other wants will take a whole new dimension if I talk about it.
Now why this sudden short burst of philosophy, you ask? It’s a tiny thing, but it made me smile,so it’s not that tiny. As I was asked for my ID proof at the check in counter in Bangalore, I saw a child holding the end of her mom’s kurta so firmly that it would take ten minutes of constant heat to iron out the wrinkles. I watched her hide behind her mother sneaking a glance at me, everytime I pretended not to. It made me think of my childhood. The times that I hid that way behind my mother, pulling her pallu. Interrupting my memory trip, the gentleman at the check in counter handed my ID back and instantly, I asked if he could provide me a window seat, where I was hoping to continue my trip down the memory lane… how I used to fight with my brother and cry to my dad saying I wanted the window seat. And I almost always got it, with a lifetime excuse of being the younger sibling. 😜
As I boarded the flight, I was delighted to find that cozy seat at the window. Thank God, I asked. I sat there skimming through the photos that we had clicked the past few days. The past few days were strange. Nice. But strange. I just officially became the owner of a house. Tiny. But yes. I’ve never seen my family more proud. Flashes of incidents of the past few days gleamed across my mind and on my phone. I smiled. It was still dark outside. Engrossed, thinking which of these photos I’d have to edit to make us look like civilians, I came across a pic of the four of us… My mom, dad, my brother, and I. The sun rose. I kept staring through the window, continuing my walk through the memory lane. We have clicked family photos when I was a child, the routine ones, on each of my birthdays. But this, this was different. Why did this make me smile?
There’s a tradition in my family, a strange one. No one in my family has ever had a happy birthday. No, no… We did celebrate or rather acknowledge that we were born on those days some years ago, measured by the number of candles on a cake that we cut. But we usually always had a quiet cake cutting. And the quiet was not out of peace. It was the after effect of a thunderstorm of yelling, crying, grumpy faces, reminders of bitter past events and whining. The calm after the wreckage of the storm. Each one of the family photos have a very evident reflection of these moments. Each face was devoid of a smile that I’d now wish was faked at the least…
Fake… Sigh! This word reminds me of a thousand memories that I can’t decide were fake or not anymore.
Those four birthdays each year had engraved such bitter memories that I keep my birthday, every year, way down… at the bottom of the list of the most exciting days in my life.
I never understood what joy people got by being wished on their birthdays. Now that Facebook and other such things are existent… You hardly even know if there’s a single person on earth who truly means the wishes… Happy birthday to you… What does it even mean? (To top the emotional involvement in that, here’s what I get: "Hbd," "hpy bday"… I hope you bought a Ferrari with the money you saved by not typing the very important letters.)
Happy birthday to me? Why me? If there’s anyone that should be celebrating, it should be my mother! It should be your mother on your birthday! She was the one who pushed you out or maybe let her cute big tummy be slit to let you out into this world. She was the one who let her tummy grow that huge for you! Why do you get to celebrate her achievement? I’ve never found a sane explanation for myself.
Well, I turned 25 this month (June). It’s 25 years and more than the day I started giving my mother pain and troubling her. I’m sorry, Mom. Though there have been times when I’ve wished I was never born, you’re the only constant reason I’ve convinced myself that it’s worth living again… Every single time, the reason has been you, Mom!
And I hope I’ve grown up to be reason enough for both you and Dad to think and smile about. Belated Happy Birthday to me (for whatever it means) and I love you, Mom. And though I don’t show it much, I do love you too, Dad. I mean, I’m part you and if I could believe the mirror, I’m mostly you 😇.