Today I’m officially 22. I don’t know how to feel about it. Staying true to myself I put my phone on aeroplane mode before I slept last night and woke up to messages and my father’s card reminding me that I had successfully lived another year of my life. I went to sleep last night after a day of playing games with my family and reminiscing about my previous birthdays. I like birthdays but not ageing as a process.
Since my birthday was officially celebrated yesterday, today I just spent the morning watching, ‘Call Me by Your Name‘ one of those rare films that make you feel good and sad at the same time. I don’t feel any different than I did yesterday except a little more aware of my age. I tried to come to terms with the number 22 by writing in my journal on Saturday night. I didn’t succeed in doing so. It’s not that I mind, but I just don’t understand it.
I am at that phase of my life when I am now the same age as the actors, singers, and sportspersons around me. There was a time when everybody just seemed ancient in comparison to me, I don’t know why I thought that’s how it will always be. Now there are many successful people who are my age, a few who are younger than me and my inferiority complex can’t accept it. Here I am at 22 still asking my mother for a glass of milk in the evening. I mean, come on! It’s scary to think that soon the famous people in the world will be younger than me. That’s when I’ll stop checking their ages just to keep myself away from the pain it will cause me.
22 came before I wanted it to. But at the end of the day, it’ll be another ordinary day in the scheme of things. A birthday is an excuse for those who don’t talk on a daily basis to exchange a few words. Every time I wish a friend on their birthday, I know it’s a way to reconnect. I remember as a kid I was so passionate about birthdays, especially in my immediate family, because we’d get to go out for dinner, we’d get cake and my parents wouldn’t pester us to study or sleep early.
Now birthdays are slightly more hard to plan, to accommodate everyone’s schedules and commitments. My parents who didn’t particularly celebrate their birthdays as kids never got why my sister and I were so excited about ours. I think they began to celebrate their own birthdays because my sister and I tried to make their birthdays fun too. After a while birthdays were all about the food, especially in college. It was a break from the boring meals, an excuse to order food from wherever we pleased.
I never liked the idea of celebrating our birth. I didn’t get it. We didn’t do much to be born, did we? It was just how things worked out for us. Are we celebrating the fact that we’re still alive or that we were born? I am never sure. I know people who remind you weeks in advance that their birthday is coming just so that you wish them. I remind my best friend because she tends to forget and on birthdays I’ve been excited about I have done that too.
This year though, I wasn’t in a mood to celebrate my birthday, it’s been a crazy year filled with shocks and turns. My life has had too many plot twists in the past twelve months. Moreover, it feels weird to celebrate your birthday when your hometown is going through a major calamity. Here I am living in the comfort of the city, while my hometown suffers from landslides, floods and disasters that come with an unforgiving monsoon. There’s only so much you can do about things sitting so far away. All you can do is send some money and prayers. This goes to tell you that humans can’t control everything.
My sister told me a very interesting thing, that these sort of things happen every year, but this time we’re feeling scared only because it’s happening close to home. If it were to happen elsewhere we probably wouldn’t relate or care. I hate that I have to agree that it is true. So my birthday is just a small event. I know at least five people who share my birthday and so for me, it’s not much of a big deal. My birthday comes every year, and I’ve celebrated it 21 times. It’ll be a real surprise if I turn 24 next year rather than 23, then I’ll be impressed.
I know this day is special for my parents because they brought me into this world, I know my birthday is special for my sister because she always wanted a little sister. Perhaps my life is an opportunity for me to be the best daughter and little sister I can be. I want to be the daughter my parents always wanted and the sister my sister always wished for. If I am able to do that in this life, then it’ll be a life well-lived.
My birthday is special for me if I am left to my own devices. When I blew out the candles on the delicious cake my sister baked for me, I only asked that the floods stop and everybody makes it through safe. I have made 21 wishes for myself so far, and I’ll have plenty more wishes to make. This is just one wish I’ve made for those who need it more than me right now. I have a family that loves me, a life filled with comfort and there’s very little that can make my life better than it is.
When you’ve studied history, you realise 22 years is a joke, so this is not a big deal at all. History has taught me enough to know that it’s not about how many years I have lived and will live, it’s about how memorable they’ve been and will be.