Time Capsule | Ft. Some Thoughts on Birthdays
Time Capsule is a series about conversations, ideas, moments and random things I would want to revisit in the future.
I remember being excited about birthdays till I was 11. It was an opportunity to wear casual clothes in school (used to be a big deal). I would distribute a single piece of chocolate, mostly dairy milk, to all my classmates, and allow teachers to take more than one chocolate in order to be in their good books. I always felt extreme happiness when my parents would present me with a yearly gift. I would have friends come over, we would play and have fun.
But once I entered “high school”, I stopped thinking too much about my birthdays. I don’t exactly know at what point this thought process changed, but I began to think of birthdays like any other ordinary day. It was an arbitrary day, and it would repeat every year for as long as I live, I couldn’t understand why I had to do something special or someone had to make my day extraordinary just because the year had moved on.
In fact, this became such a big deal that I had removed any presence of when my birthday was from social media and I would hide the date of my birthdays from friends. Often I would try to avoid answering the question - When is your birthday?
I think I felt compelled to not think of my birthdays as special. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a problem with other people’s birthdays. It was a different thought process for mine. In a world where there are 7 billion humans living through their days in joy and in misery, my birthdays never felt unique to me and I couldn’t think of what made it worth celebrating.
I turn 22 today.
It’s been more than a decade since I last wore casual clothes to school and spent my birthday celebrating by sharing chocolates and accepting a gift.
A lot has happened since then.
A lot has changed.
I got my ass kicked and my face smashed against a cake on the first birthday I celebrated in college. I spent time getting birthday cakes for friends and made failed attempts at giving gifts to them. I have spent a lot of time among some wonderful people who have had a different approach towards birthdays than I do. Most of all, I was living with people I cared about, tried keeping in touch with those who were far, and made attempts at keeping those connections alive.
The last few months have definitely changed my thinking about moments and celebrations like birthdays.
Today is the 168th day since I started experiencing the pandemic. I have witnessed some horrible miseries around despite my best attempts at trying to ignore the things happening in this world.
My sister in law magically got in touch with many of my friends and people I care about. She asked them to write me letters. Something like this has always been beyond me.
I spent the hour leading to my birthday reading letters from my friends. People I haven’t been able to keep in touch with properly since the world changed. It was at 12 that stopped reading those letters. I also stopped thinking so negatively about my birthdays.
I read messages of extreme kindness and encouragement. People helping me dive into nostalgia, giving some sage advice, writing about shared memories, and wishing me the very best. In the face of these messages and this kind of gesture, I find it difficult to continue believing that this day isn’t unique.
It’s been a decade since I last thought about my birthdays as a special day.
I am recording this to express gratitude to my parents who decided to give me a gift again, to all those who wished me today, who thought this was an appropriate day to get in touch, who wanted me to have an amazing year and those who reminded me of the way I have changed through the many connections I’ve come to cherish.
I am also recording this as a reminder for my future self, that birthdays are a celebration of our continued existence in this world in the worlds of those you care about. It is arbitrary and repetitive. I will have a birthday next year, and the year after that and the year after that.
But, I think, maybe just maybe it is worth making a fuss about our existence at least once a year and look at the silver lining.