Last week was special. It was my birthday week. And it came wrapped in a gorgeous gift box of happiness.
Ever since I was a kid, I would be super excited about my upcoming birthday. As the date would draw closer the excitement would keep building up. I guess, I owe it to my parents and friends, who made my birthday a very special and unique occasion. Unlike most youngsters, I remember celebrating my birthday till I turned eighteen, or was it sixteen? On my sixteenth birthday, Ma stitched this stunning, sunflower yellow dress for me. It was a ritual. Every birthday she would make a dress for me, in her Usha sewing machine. Those dresses were exquisite, trendy and hand embroidered; stitched with unconditional love. The process would of course start a month in advance, so I guess that’s how my excitement would build up.
As I grew older, and left home to study and work, many people forgot my birthday. My expectations around the wishes that didn’t come did disappoint me. But I was so hung up on making my birthday special. The good old internet had made its way into our lives then. So a few days before my birthday, I sent out reminder emails to my close buddies. The subject line of one of these messages, I vaguely remember read something like this, “My Birthday is Coming, and I Want to Smile & not Sulk” The email of course acted as a reminder, lest they forget. As frivolous as it may sound, this ploy worked and I was inundated with phone calls and loving messages and wishes from my near and dear ones. Those were the days of no Facebook birthday alerts. With each passing year, I realised every birthday of mine was a unique memorable event in itself. When we shifted to Gurugram from Singapore 8 years back, I met a set of friends who just like me loved the idea of a birthday celebration. So I had a few elaborate, crazy bashes, mostly at home where we made merry like there was no tomorrow.
Last year around, I decided I wanted a quiet time away from friends. I wanted to be just with my family. Or go to some place away for a day. The 19-year-old had joined college and she wasn’t around. So the DH and the 9-year-old gave me a surprise and whisked me away to this getaway near Damdama lake. I was spoilt silly by the resort staff and of course the DH. I felt no less than a princess.
This birthday I wanted to keep all the hype muted. I wanted a simple, quiet birthday, yet again with family. I showed no signs of excitement even as the days drew closer. It was surprising to say the least for people who know me well. And even for me to some extent. A part of me assumed I was probably growing mellower with age, then the other part vehemently rationalised, “Age is just a number”, so why would it be about being less excited. Probably it was all about having been there and done it all. A day or two before my birthday the nineteen year old kept pestering me and asking me what I wanted to do. I told her I was good with anything, even if it meant staying at home and enjoying a quiet meal. She was appalled to say the least. She retorted saying, “Mom, if I don’t do anything for you, you will give me grief for the longest time.” Errr, well, maybe not, or maybe yes. That’s when I realised I do have a bad reputation.
My birthday evening started with a bit of fanfare. It kind of coincided with a movie date with the DH. We went to watch Annabelle Creation. Horror is one of my favourite genre you see. Came back spooked and spirited both at the same time. As the clock struck twelve the DH pulled out a surprise cheese cake and we were so busy eating it that we realised I had forgotten to blow the candle. What followed thereafter was a day inundated with phone calls and messages. Some called and sang “Happy Birthday to you” in their incredibly out of tune voices. It was so sweet, yet I wanted to burst out laughing. A few friends dropped by. I was gifted four different kinds of cakes. So much for my love for cake! And here I was trying to count calories. Beautiful flowers also arrived at my doorstep. We rounded off the day with an evening out with the family where they brought me a much sought after present. No it wasn’t “happiness” but it sure did make me very happy. I was eyeing it for a while. We had my favourite Khow Suey for dinner and I returned home satiated in spirit, mind and soul. Another precious birthday to treasure in my myriad memory box. The birthday celebrations spilled over to the weekend, as I went cycling with my cycling buddies for a long, 70 kms ride to India Gate, which was memorable in its own unique way. I had got new tyres for my cycle, and since it was thoroughly serviced, I enjoyed an exhilarating ride.
This blessed birthday I realised, the true relevance of the quote:
“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come alight upon your shoulder.”