60 days to go! My heart would be racing with joy unable to keep the pace of my life. The countdowns would always start early. You could say I would be Smitten by the Birthday Bug long before my time. And the day would finally arrive 🙂 Yahoo! My heart would beat with excitement. My Mind be full of incoherent thoughts… breakfast time.. A little bit of excitement, a tinge of nervousness all resulting into a beetroot red face of mine as Princi would put tika on my forehead and the dining halls boom with the “Birthday Song”, the chocolates and the Birthday Bumps. Well, Birthday Bumps are acts where thirteen gals pick up the Birthday Girl and throw her high up in the air and kick her. LOL. The thinner you were the easier, for the healthier ones would leave the rest puffing and panting though “You’re Fat” was never uttered. Action sure speaks louder than words. Those were the days when birthdays really mattered. And School, birthdays and nostalgia. Unlike Modernization, social change and Development can be used synonymously in my life! (Excuse my Exam hangover)
Then the midlife crisis in my Birthday saga when they turned into Days of Embarrassment. The Happy Birthday wishes would feel like a nightmare! The Birthday Bugs turned into Birthday Blues. I longed for the day to get over more than anything else for I just didn’t know what to feel as you were born today, what to say when friends wished “Happy Birthday”, why to thank them when I am not happy…It just felt like “Birthday? So what?” sort of affair. I wouldn’t even write my journal on the 15th of July!
But I had it all worked out this time. Agenda 21:Just Celebrate My Existence! Woke up at 12am sharp and wished myself a Happy Birthday!! Crazy? Kumud called me at around 5 to wish me the same in a sleepy tone. Dhungz smsed me a birthday cake! And though I have absolutely no record of visiting temples on my birthday I did it this time. Took a quick shower and headed for Pashupatinath.
The sight of beggars right in front of the One who is supposed to away with everyone’s sufferings, the Power of Faith and Poverty with a face, the fortunetellers and the fortune makers, Babajis and the nagging babies: temples are a world in itself. And being to such places on your own is the best part. For it is when silence prevails the stimulation of the mind begins. I took off my slippers, switched off my cell phone (it is a new rule, the guard or police makes sure you do it and if your cell has a camera as well you can’t take it inside).Threw a coin at the main gate of Pashupatinath while the policeman was warning me ” Shivaji ko tauko ma lagla”(It might strike Shiva’s head), peeped through a hole to look at the statue of a God I don’t know and dipped my leg in the waters of the Bagmati encouraged by seeing people wash their face with it!!
Then I followed people to go around the maze of Shiva Lingas. I was running my hand through all of them when all of a sudden it struck me “What is this?” Man, you are taking the symbol of Male Sex for God!! I withdrew my hand instantly and almost muttered”Ugh!” and the rest of the journey around the Lingas felt very very uncomfortable. Sorry Lord but being a student of Gender I can’t be practicing things that reinforce patriarchy. I want change, and I am not Alone!
The next stop was aryaghat. The realization of death on the day you were born is a strange feeling. People thronged to offer water on the ‘Brahmanal’, a stone glorified with faith on one side while a body that breathed, walked, laughed only sometime ago blazed in flames all alone. There it lay a cold lifeless integration of systems called body…. and it needs to be reduced to ashes that’s the sole objective. The man added firewood, more and more of it, poked it with a stick and sat down staring at the river smoking a cigarette. I sat there scribbling and observing the man, wondering how it felt to be burning dead bodies day in and out.
Buried, that’s the way I would like to be put to rest I thought. Green grass above me, and dark red roses and fragrant white ‘Indrakamal’ (I don’t know the English name) planted together…..But …Ashes, the thought of being reduced to a handful of ashes is equally tempting!! Everything burns, life does too. Death the only truth of life…I got up to leave appreciating life. That’s the best part of being this age. Childhood passes in a jiffy; teenage comes with its share of tribulations and leaves long before you have get a chance to realize what Sweet Sixteen was all about. But at twenty you see beyond what catches the eye, feel observe and appreciate. And it only gets better with age!!
I walked out smiling at myself when a Babaji stopped me to ask for some money to buy milk! I didn’t bother. “If you give me some money you’ll be blessed with a son” he said. Son! I wanted to scoff at him. I don’t plan on having any, the world is already overpopulated for any more births!
Later in the evening I went out again on a Date. A very Special One: A Date With Myself! The same place, a light brown setting, nice chairs, nice tables and the familiar face of the waiters. Things don’t change, its people that do. I sat in the same place and retraced my path back to the first time I was there and sipped my Cold Coffee. So much has changed since then… I mused and took my time on my money. Took out my journal and started writing, read the newspaper and went through the book. She called, sang the birthday song on the phone while I laughed.
Another one called, on your own? She asked.
“Yah” I replied.
“Come on, don’t feel shy. Tell me. Who are you with?”
“No one”. I said.
And she would just not believe me!!
Is it so hard to believe? If you don’t feel good being around yourself how can you expect others to do the same in your presence! There’s a saying in love which goes,” The gaps in your fingers were made for someone else’s to fill it up. “But I say no one’s fingers fill in the gap as perfectly as your other hand. So much for those lovey dovey stuffs!!
A ‘planned coffee date’ with yourself might sound weird but it is just like walking. Time for Self- Introspection…Time to do some soul searching…and time to move on…
I had a great time! Hope you did too.