There would be excitement in the air, an upcoming birthday.
My mother would carefully select a dress and pair it with new shoes, ribbons and accessories. She would arrange an ensemble for school and one for the evening party. A week before my birthday, the family would be involved in preparing packets of sweets, to be distributed in school.I would count days, and then hours, my birthday, it is special, I would tell myself. I would assume the world to be slightly happier on that day, as if the flowers were smiling back at me, and the trees were swaying in a dance.
It would always rain, and I cannot imagine a birthday without that sound. As a child I would sit in front of a hole in the wall, occupied by ants, and watch them throughout the day.Actually it was more of a tunnell.
Evenings would be tough, the house would be filled with people, laughter, smell of food being cooked by my mother and aunts. My cousins would be playing, guests would be hunting for me, to kiss, to pull cheeks, to hug , to wish me happiness,I would be a bit scared.My cousin would often stay back till late and we would open the gifts, divide remaining sweets.
And when the day would get over, and the noise would give way to a moonlit night, I would have time with my own self, and feel alive.
I do not witness those large gatherings often, friends too have dispersed and moved on, well most of them, but I am at peace with the fact that I am freer with each passing year.
Yesterday I turned twenty- five and there is this newness which I enjoy;
Things have changed a lot, and a lot is to change, I feel excited about it; I do not fear people as much, in fact it is good to have them around. I enjoy public speaking, I enjoy entertaining people, and yesterday when it rained on my birthday, I realized I love these changes, but some things must remain constant, some of them have, some haven’t. Like the terrace back home, like the joy in listening to music and safekeeping colors, that thrill before stepping into a cold river, sudden breeze, sparrows, a dog out of nowhere, mumma’s laughter, papa’s earlier joy in seeing me, elder brother’s elder brotherly protection, a bicycle ride, taiji’s aloo fry, naniji’s nostalgia, scooty rides, Gurudwara’s prasad (halwa), milk-cake mithai, roxette, ali-haider’s purani jeans, amul butter, landline number, letters, old pyjamas, ruled notebooks, reynolds pen, mumma’s jewelry, tayaji’s photograph in my room, green curtains, childhood books, old toys, Noddy, Rusty…travel…putting on extra kilos in mango season, cake from king’s bakery, nauchnadi’s kalpana beedi, sapna cine-films’ advertisement in movie hall, peanuts, original parachute, chyawanprash in winters with horlics in milk…
I miss the swimming pools created during rains, I don’t ever want to fear rains, I think, having spent twenty-five years on a tiny bit of this planet, I do not want to fear, and each time I do so, I want to remind myself of the openness of the clouds which you see through that tiny window in the plane, that vastness which is so light and powerful.