This week started for me with my birthday… which one? I am not giving it away just yet. The first thing that springs to my mind with birthdays are gifts and wishes and I got them both abundant, especially wishes. And yes, it felt wonderfully nice, affectionate and special when so many of my family and friends called up, texted, messaged and posted to wish me. In essence, it meant so many of them thought about me for that moment, spared a minute or more to send me their best wishes.
But the funny part of this birthday was that whoever called, asked me my plan for the day. To which I didn’t know where to start from. To begin with it was a Monday morning with all its blues deepened by the hubbub of the school and office routine, next it was my car pool turn for both the kids’ pick up who come at different times. So the morning till late noon was taken care of. My son’s physiotherapy session took care of the evening and if all looked well, a family dinner was definitely on the card, where I would carry my younger one’s paratha from home feeding her on the way and keep nudging my son to stay up till we reach the restaurant and he eat his dinner. However, I didn’t have to go through the last bit since due to certain circumstances we didn’t go out and ordered a home delivery instead.
The most amusing thing about my birthday was that my kids were feeling sad for me and I was feeling strange. My son just couldn’t understand why his mom didn’t want a theme party, why was there no fancy, elaborate cake (though there was a yummy chocolate cake baked by my co-sister) and no friends coming over? And my daughter felt so concerned that she asked me, “Birthday hai na? To friends ko bulao.” But since I was making no calls to invite anyone, she picked up her toy phone calling every friend of mine she knows and reciting, “Today is Radhika aunty’s birthday so please come to our house.” While her drama was hilarious, their concern and care for my fun was adorable.
As for my strange melancholic emotions, let me reveal that I am right at edge of crossing over into the wrong side of thirties. It was my 35th birthday. As I spoke to my mom that day, I told her I remember celebrating my birthday as a daughter, but celebrating it as a mother of two doesn’t seem exciting. I somehow find it difficult to let go of my image of early twenties, the 23-24 years old. I’ll admit I’m appearance conscious but I am really not that vain to not accept the aging changes. I have visible gray strands of hair now, my once naturally silky mane is now dry and frizzy, my freckles are more prominent and a night cream is now inevitable. But it is not the younger physical image of me that I am holding unto. Nor did I ever have a very indulgent, swashbuckling lifestyle or celebrations that I miss. For some unclear reason, my mind quavers from registering the lapse of 12 years of my life from twenty three to thirty five. It seems it just happened out of nowhere. I lead an above average happy, healthy and satisfied life even today and yet I lament.
I think it is the change in roles, the addition of responsibilities and the challenges of relationships that I lament. Oh no please don’t assume, I am not depressed or in denial of my age. I am not enclosed in the house or tied down with chores. I do hang out, I have fun and I love my family. I still come across as a reasonably pleasant looking, sensible and self confident woman. But I do miss my younger self. I miss the carefreeness. And it just so happens that birthdays accentuate that journey of age rather consciously and glaringly.
Not all days you halt to look back at the distance covered in your life’s journey. But a birthday is a milestone that unwittingly reminds you how far you have come. And then you realize you had been so preoccupied while driving all along that you reached so far almost in a haze. As I write, I wonder if it serves any purpose of putting my dichotomy into words, of acknowledging my bemused state of mind. Serves none actually. I miss my past but I don’t pine for it, I am restless in my present but clueless of the future. Where does this leave me? It leaves me exactly at 35.
Being thirty five is not embarrassing; it is living thirty five which is exhausting. I finally get it, I basically want to retreat from my responsibilities and so my mind chose the relatively more exciting and sorted age of twenty three to revert to. Poor thing, it doesn’t know such option doesn’t exist. Good news is a friend consoled me that forties is the new twenties for women with added value and charm for aged maturity just like wine. Sounds promising and sparkling. Five more years and I will know… not that I am in any hurry anyway.