Friday, May 26, 2017

On your Birthday!

The biggest difficulty on your birthday as you move ahead in age is displaying candles on the cake. It is cumbersome to spread scores of candles on the cake, moreover it is also not pleasant to announce your impending old age. Even if you do not put candles on the cake, your birthday reminds you of your age.
The family is still as excited and surprises you with a birthday cake. With age, you realise that only thing that matters in this world is your sleep and you all decide to cut the surprise well before midnight. You still have friends who call when clock strikes twelve but you are already snoring by that time; and careful that your mobile is in do not disturb mode. I am not that old, the problem is I am also not young anymore.
Might sound strange to the uninitiated, during childhood I was excited about my birthday. The best thing that happened on this day was you could tear open gifts. There could have been a world inside the colourful wrappings and you dreamt of remote controlled bikes, superheroes and board games. More often than not the gift turned out to be recycled scenery but that excitement never left me. Those who gently remove the packing can never understand the excitement of tearing colourful paper from the middle. Mom made sure it was done after the birthday party and that never-ending wait for the guests to leave was extremely painful.
On your birthday, you were allowed to skip dress code in the school. You also carried a box of sweets and you could bunk couple of classes for distributing those. Often one could get away by not doing homework and was still not punished. God has been kind to me, but as they say, there is no one beyond blame. He made me pop out on 19th May and every year by this date, school had begun its summer holidays.
Birthdays parties at home were often swapped for ‘Havan’. You were supposed to touch feet of everybody to seek their blessings and by the time you were done, your back could bend more than 180 degrees. There was a collective conspiracy against children and elderly ladies handed you cash rather than wrapped gift on your birthday. You parents told of millions that were going to be accumulated in your bank account and swiftly confiscated those notes.
As you progressed in school, you could get birthday cards on your birthday. In the days bereft of social media, it worked well as an expression of interest in somebody. Birthdays then served as customized Valentine days and many people got married because they had a birthday. You could also boast your worth in class by the number of cards collected. I was an extremely popular person and guess God didn’t wish to demotivate many hence kept my birthday during summer holidays. When one went to IIT, you were showered with generous birthday bumps instead of wrapped gifts and those were not very kind to your rear side. Getting birthday card from opposite sex was anyway more difficult than topping IIT.
As I grew up, I am uncertain as to how I should behave on my birthday. Often there is an urge that it is just another date and I hid it from twitter/Facebook. What happens then is birthday greetings from Insurance companies, credit cards and online shopping portals dominate calls by real people. It is not a great feeling to get a call from an insurance company telling you preparations that you should make in case you decide to leave on your birthday.
Another ritual of this day is song ‘Happy Birthday’. Till date, likes of our cultural brigade have a misplaced focus on Valentine’s day but this was the song that pierced through our ‘Sanskriti’. I could never figure out how one should behave when others sing Happy Birthday. Am I supposed to join the chorus, dance in front of the crowd or just stand there and grin till my cheeks revolt. You just fidget with your hands and pray for it to finish. Once a kind friend announced that it was my birthday in a restaurant and I stood like a spectacle in front of crowd of hundred and ended up sponsoring their cake.
Over years after I came in public service, the thing that has become a permanent fixture is some strange person getting to know it is your birthday. This year someone who claimed his hobby was to wish officers on their birthdays called on mobile and before warning, sang ‘Baar Baar Ye Din Aaye’ for good 5 minutes in his hoarse voice. When he wanted to shift to the formal ‘Happy Birthday’ I politely disconnected.
The only thing that has remained constant is the urge to tear open gifts. In case you are thinking about sending one on my next birthday, please pay more attention to the gift wrapping to make it more enticing. My better half does try to save colorful gift wrappers but even today I rarely miss an opportunity to rip it from the middle!

1 comment:

Sandeepan Mukherjee said...

So nice Sir...