I have never been a birthday person. I don’t remember ever having looked forward to a birthday. It is not that turning a year older has really bothered me.
What does bother me about birthdays is the absolute fuss created over them. I balk at the attention. I have come to realise that there are birthday people and then there’s us who are rather unruffled by it all.
“Come to Delhi for our birthday, okay? We can have chocolate cake with gems!” said my wide-eyed niece, Piggy, excitedly. She and I share the same birthday. I looked at Piggy’s excited, cherubic face and mulled it over. I absolutely love her to bits. I do. She is the best birthday present ever. But I don’t quite fancy spending a birthday wading through a bunch of hyperactive, screaming four-year-olds to get to my chocolate cake with gems.
It is simply too unnerving considering the utter violence I was subjected to in my early days at the merciless hands of Terror#1 and his equally diabolical sibling. And I now have my hands full with BC and KO screaming, pinching, biting and clawing each other every time they disagree over what to order for dessert.
Birthdays are harrowing experiences for anyone who doesn’t much care for them. Of course, Bin does not share my sentiment. Bin adores birthdays. She is the type who begins planning her next birthday the moment she blows the candles off her current birthday cake with the pink icing and the silver bells.
One year, Bin called me up about a month before my birthday. “What plans for your birthday?” she squealed excitedly. “Nothing. May be just head out for a drink with the hobbler and the squabbler or something. I don’t care for birthdays anyway. Blah,” I replied tonelessly.
“What! How can you not like birthdays?! I feel like a princess on my birthday! It’s the ONLY day anyone ever pays any attention to me!”
“Err…”, I said in a valiant attempt to sound empathetic.
“But then you wouldn’t know anything about how that feels now, would you, Principessa?!” she shrieked back all distraught.
Oh, dear. I had just succeeded in irking the Keeper of Birthday Sanctity or something. Now every time Bin enquires about my birthday plans, I put up a cheery front, punch the air and add, “I am having the best birthday party ever, with balloons, frilly party frock and my awesome tiara. I am so excited!”
Then there’s BC, who decided we would celebrate by downing one shot of tequila for every year we’ve spent on earth. We quickly gave up on that idea. We realised that if we pressed on, we would probably spend an equal amount of time calling Jesus on the big porcelain telephone.
The stress of planning a birthday celebration is far too much for the likes of me. It must stem from planning those birthday parties back in boarding school. Oh, the tough decisions young infantile minds had to make. Coconut balls or elephant ears or scones or samosas? To invite the fightercock and the crybaby or not?
I haven’t come too far since then. Now it is all about deciding between vodka or gin or beer or a sickly sweet fruity cocktail. Or choosing between apt responses to keep the peace between friends who are gauging each other’s eyes out over the pronunciation of “Thomas”.
Yes, this birthday shall have to be a peacekeeping mission like any other day. Unless there's an offer of skydiving someplace or a nude wedding.
So, sorry, Piggy. Not this birthday. May be our next birthday - you'll be five and old enough to crack open your first can of beer and all that.