‘Yes, I know her,’ smiled a li’l girl of 9 to her friend, after wishing me loudly when I, aged 11, went to her class to give ‘toffees’ to the teacher.
Yes, it was a great feeling, both for me and for that li’l girl. The reason behind me feeling good was 1, it was my birthday and that was a pretty huge reason because ‘birthday girl’ indirectly translated to ‘you are special’; reason 2 was that the li’l girl’s wishes endowed me with a ‘celebrity’ feeling and the mere prospect of an unknown girl recognizing me and shouting out wishes irrespective of the other people around her and irrespective of a 'teacher' (that was a pretty big word till the age of 11), was elating.....(Carmelites, you can recognise this feeling for sure......)
Birthdays were always so much fun at school, especially the days preceding THE birthday, when hours would be spent planning about what to wear (at least I would do that and why not, when you get just 1 day to show off in front of the whole school, the responsibility and pressure to look good, gets bigger, right?)
My birthday falls on the 18thof February and 18th of Febs were always quite cold in Bhopal. The days before the 18th and following it, would see me loaded with sweaters, mufflers (I always had an inclination towards muflers) and gloves. But it’s a thumb rule that the birthday girl never feels cold and so, the 18th would see me enjoying the Feb ‘cool breeze’ without bearing the shackles of a blo*** sweater.
Wishes on the bus stop and then teh bus......As soon as I would get into the bus, juniors (and unknown ones too) would shout out wishes and (in full humility) I would feel so good......At school, my friends’ li’l sisters or my friends’ li’l sister’s friends would wish me and try to get my attention in a way that (makes me feel today) I was SRK caught for a day in a female bod (mine was a girl’s school, so I have to write an SRK’s name)…..I don’t mind accepting it today that getting aware of all the hullabaloo around me would make 18th feb more special.....
I remember another birthday ritual......As kids, younger than 11 and 12 years, many girls would pamper the birthday girl to attract her attention so that she would take her to distribute chocolates (and I have never done that, SERIOUSLY)…..that would be so much fun either when you were the birthday girl being buttered or you were amongst the ‘non chosen’ ones (latter because then you could say ‘bad things’* about the fawning girl)..... The girl you took for the round, would be the girl who was the closest to you (I still don't understand why, but I’ve never taken my closest friends with me on those ‘rounds’)….
It was in my 6th or 7th std (+-1) when my bday and our class picnic coincided. That year I had worn a red frock and gone to school. From school, we all went ‘walking’ to Children’s Park for class picnic….My friends surprised me with a chocolate cake. The 'huge Childrens’ Park' witnessed my birthday (yes I felt like a celebrity again….imagine, BIRTHDAY PARTY in PUBLIC in front of UNKOWN PEOPLE…..wow…:p)…..After the celebrations, lunch and all, my friends and I participated in a class race. I emerged a winner and got a red crystal bowl as prize….I still remember that feeling (I was excited more because the bowl matched my frock)….
Birthdays were always so much fun. Friends made me feel special, dad baked cakes, mom cooked delicious food, family friends blew balloons, decorated the house etc…..But the best part was the end of the party, when the birthday girl would have the tremendous responsibility of unwrapping a bed full of gifts. The gifts ranged from Stic sketchpens, board games, Barbie dolls, Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, parker pens, tiffin and pencil boxes (when we were smaller)……
That was the time when the flat where we stayed was so small, yet it housed enough for a rocking party; No Djs, no dance floors, yet we danced….None of us knew how much money was spent on the gifts, yet we enjoyed guessing and unwrapping them. Juniors, teachers, Sr.Reji, Sr. Ancilla and the amazing lot of friends in two ponies/ plaits and a green tunic….everyone made you feel like a princess….Today my home is huge but I don’t stay there….I need sketch pens but there isn't anyone to gift them to me….
But I have no complaints....I know, that I'm gonna wait for my friends to call me up tomorrow. Like a kid, I’ll keep on logging in to facebook and gmail to check if all my friends have wished me…..and I know that I'll be flooded with wishes....We have grown up, dispersed to different cities and everything has changed yet my friends are still the same and thanks to you, I’m still tremendously excited about tomorrow, the 18th of feb……and yes, I’ve decided what I’m going to wear on MY BIRTHDAY….:-)
*have stopped myself from using the word bitc**** because we and our anger was far better at that time than we are now…..