In keeping with the tradition of birthday merrymaking, I placed my demand on the table like a portfolio to be studied. My birthday was two days away and in the exasperated desperation of last minute planning, they had finally asked me for my birthday wish list. They gave me puzzled looks. They raised their eyebrows and squinted, checking if they had read the wish list correct. Two words spawned the entire white expanse. They read- “Something… big.”
My cousins hooted, for this was just another challenge for them. Ask what I may, I knew what I would receive from them. The little one would choke me awake, wish me ‘appy budday didi’ and say that the gift is not ready but I am not to worry for it was on its way. ‘On its way’ was really code for ‘I’m looking for my sketch pens’ and indeed, later in the evening I would find a handmade card magically appearing on top of my bookshelf (sometimes even on my dinner plate!) and happy, I would kiss her thanks.
The older one is a little quieter. She too would greet me, cheerful as the moon but there would not be much comment further in the day that it was my birthday or that I, even though I’m older, expect a gift. Yet she would go out of her way to share her world with me, as if letting me in on her stickers and hair bands and any other prized possession of hers would be a priviledge I must be honoured to have. Perhaps, if I am lucky, she would let me take a few pictures of her, for I find few things more beautiful in the world than my cousin.
Maami, my dear maami, would be different. She wouldn’t bother with waking me up or entertaining me. Her focus would be stuffing me up like a Thanksgiving turkey, with delicacies sweet as cake and doughnuts. She knows everything I like to eat. She does one better and surprises me. I know I do not need to ask her for anything, for she will ensure that I eat for every single second that I’m not playing with the cousins.
This is also that time of the year when my real sister gets a little possessive. She is hit by this sudden realization that I am, first and foremost, her didi and that it is her moral duty and right to give me the biggest present of them all. We all know that nobody can top mom’s surprises, but we like to try anyway. From hampers of food to movie plans to this crazily short skirt for January, my li’l sister partners with all sorts of financers, dads, brothers, uncles and whatever money she can find around, to put together a gift she can offer me with pride.
Enough ado about gifts. My birthday certainly is not all about that. There is my uncle whose job is to ensure I find myself on the floor. Not as a prank, it’s just his routine to make me laugh so much that I inevitably find myself rolling on the floor, tangled with my sisters, all trying to hold our stomachs in and keep our food in our tummies.
There is mom who smiles at me in the breaks between every dialogue and every act, as if she and I share a secret. Sometimes I begin to think we do. Is not understanding a secret in itself.
This birthday, however everyone was perplexed. What do I mean big. What do I want. I grinned, enjoying my little private joke. Go figure, I teased them with my eyes.
For a day they all wondered what to do. When answers failed to appear, jokes did, and everyone said sure they’ll do lots of big things: they’ll wear big clothes and sit in big chairs and eat with big spoons. Content with the genius they had just exhibited, they returned my grin and teased me back. My birthday was just as great as ever, just as I had expected.But that is not my point.
My delight and amusement rests in that one day before the big day when everyone was firing up their brains, thinking, thinking, thinking what they want to do for me. And what would be ‘big’ enough. As it turns out, my wish list was a present from me to myself. Who said a birthday has to be just a day. Mine wasn’t.
It was much… ‘bigger’ than that.
Note: Take a moment to smile at that post before we get down to business, y’all! So apparently 19 of you shared my comeback? I’m sitting here and wondering who you guys are, angels really, so how about when you feel like doing that, you leave a comment simple saying “Facebook Shared” so that I can count you in in my bedtime prayers? Hehe.