Another birthday! Whew!!! A friend called to wish me early in the morning and asked this challenging question--'What are your thoughts?' I replied , 'Another year gone!' The truth was was lolling comfortably in bed right then (it was my birthday, I had a cold etc. etc.) It was too private a time to share my real thoughts. I was not in the mood to tell her that I was silently celebrating the fact that I had been born and lived this long, that I had already received so many greetings and gifts. The house was full of flowers and more cakes than we could eat, even a bottle of wine--from my husband, daughters and brother. True, I was another year older. But very thankful that I'd been born in a family that believed in birthdays. At least once a year you had a day that was uniquely yours and yours alone. I was of the loved ones who had already wished me, would wish me, also of those who would not and those who could not--my loving parents and much loved older sister who passed away so many years ago. As a writer, I was assessing my achievements--two books in the past year, an award received but also ruing the fact that I was perhaps letting some dreams slide into that ominous black hole which consumes such aspirations. A sure sign of advancing age, too much contentment--or worse ennui?
I could not help recalling birthdays from the past too, the ones that stood out in my memory for different reasons. The growing up birthday--my 14th, which went without a party because a relative had recently died. I was still childish enough to be disappointed! My 18th--when I got my first sari as a gift. It took a couple of years to learn how to wear it properly, though! My 21st was a particularly sad one--my father who always made birthdays special, had passed away just a few months back. Also another birthday (I will not specify which one!) that was totally forgotten by those closest to me! And another made special by my daughter Sonali's thoughtfulness. I had no help and as usual--not being domestically inclined--had been grumbling and grumbling. I woke up to find that breakfast was already being prepared. That day I feasted on baked eggs and toast with tea served in a silver plated tea set, the best we owned at the time! After that I was ordered to take off for the beauty parlour--all the household chores would be taken care of! One of the best birthday presents I ever received.
This year I felt privileged because my daughter Garima was visiting and making me feel cherished. Last year I felt privileged too, celebrating my special day in New York soon after my grandson Kartik was born, with better-half Dilip, Sonali and her husband James and his mother Nancy, and my brother Sumant and his wife Renu and daughter Meera.
The day passed by with sporadic greetings from friends and relatives and each made me feel more and more special. When the day reached its grand finale--dinner with Dilip and two daughters, Garima and Geetika and two sons-in-law, Pranav and Ashutosh and one much adored grandchild Adya, I felt really blessed. I had cut four cakes--a couple are featured here--and there was nothing more I could really ask for. Of course, being human, before I went to bed I couldn't help thinking of the ones who hadn't wished me, particularly those whose birthdays I always remembered. Maybe that was good too, because I could magnanimously forgive them and feel one up!