Well it’s not my birthday today. I want to share some memories that we carry about our Birthdays which may seem silly today, but made a world of a difference as a child. It’s about childhood memories of my Birthday. Many Hazy & many erased, but the one thing I felt as a kid was quite ‘deprived’ that something was amiss in my life, compared to others.
For all those born in holidays –End of Apr-May, Christmas, etc will understand what I felt, as a kid. Today, none of this bothers, but sure it did as a kid. While everyone could celebrate birthdays I really couldn’t. this has little to do with the family’s financial situation…it’s just collection of experiences.
Firstly to convince Mr. Kolhatkar, I need to celebrate my birthday was like moving Grand Canyon. Seriously. The concept of celebrating birthdays was hard to digest then. I went to a very lah-di-dah school. All children of Richie-rich…there was a solid middle class family with very aesthetic senses, but clueless about making public one’s private celebrations. Plus we were one BIG fat Indian joint family. So if a young spaced out Neeta wanted to celebrate birthday then surely over three fourths of the family would have voted against it. You know what, it hardly mattered, the ONLY person –Baba’s decision mattered. That ofcourse back then I couldn’t influence…it was either my aaji, his mother, aai –my mother or my sister. Back then…stakes change…haha
Anyways he believed one must be old enough to understand & celebrate such days. Well, now you know where I get my weirdness from! I now believe the same. But as a kid, sorry, I want means I want, else…cryyy….and who do I celebrate with? Same old faces? Uncles, aunties, some cousins, sister, brother…how boring…so that was a strong excuse baba would use. What’s in a celebration with the same people? So there would go my b’day plans. While school girls celebrated galore.
We didn’t have the concept of ‘return gift.’ Well, the concept of gifts was quite different then. And we were so cheap maintenance, seriously as kids we’d be pleased with rs11/- as long as it was given in some fancy envelopes. Shit, wish we were smarter…
And now while the world celebrated or at least ensured they could celebrate their birthdays, my sister ensured she did, I couldn’t. I am May born…yes while my life’s BEST gift is the King of fruits –mango- of this season, sorry as a kid it seemed unconvincing…I wanted a b’day party, baas..so every b’day I think I’d have red-eyes as a kid who’d sulk more (coz most crib I was pathological sulker) cry more (another accusation I was BIG time cry kid), who felt life was unfair. Why I’m not allowed to have a b’day. So I’d be ignored for most part, then after screams, beatings or shouts, I’d try to bargain that ok then on my sister’s b’day I should be given permission to wear coloured clothes.
See, the point of feeling ‘deprived’ wasn’t about NOT having celebrations, it was all about public display of my own day! We holiday born types couldn’t wear fancy, b’day clothes to school. That’s allowed, we weren’t given that chance, ever! Now I laugh, feel it’s so ridiculous, but sorry, as a kid I felt fuck, this life is shit man. God is unfair & unkind. I wanted to celebrate & I was plain denied that right. Yes, no school still thinks of those who are born on holidays. Now imagine, if a kid’s b’day fell on a Sunday, she was granted permission to wear b’day clothes on Monday. Toh sala, what was my fault? And to top it a sister who could wear b’day clothes…ohhh can’t tell you what it meant then. Haha…
The other issue of being denied celebration was May meant every kid or family had BIG plans for summer vacations. Even after bribing I think it would have been IMPOSSIBLE to find kids in our wadi around my b’day time. Arey it was peak holiday time. I always felt it should be 1 big celebration. I don’t remember my out of town b’days, ok. Honestly. So apart fm my parents, aaji, sister & brother who were like package deal of my life, the regular friends from neighbouring building were sure shot guests. Ufff how very boring….yes…but one memorable b’day I did have.
Well, then after much promises, buttering up-which I’ve been bad at all my life- I finally convinced my father for 1 BIG party one summer. Don’t know what bargaining I had to do, but somehow managed. Pictures were taken & it did seem like one big party. But you know? By then the fancy of b’rthday had begun wearing away…after that believe me Birthday doesn’t really mean much. A reminder I was born on that day…fair enough, but now it really doesn’t matter.
In fact when parents plan boat parties for 1 & 2 year olds while, I’m glad that my parents didn’t indulge in us so much, I still feel then it made a difference I couldn’t celebrate it as much fanfare as others. My parents didn’t do less. Bought me jewelry, stitched good clothes, got festive food & loads of mangoes to eat…but celebrating B’day was visibly NOT there..Now when friends tweet about the daunting task of return gifts and all, I know as a kid more than the gift, for me to have public acknowledgement of my b’day was most important than anything else…believe me as a kid NOTHING else mattered….And before readers think i grew up feeling deprived or lesser fortunate, pl get your devious minds checked