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The Nightmare Birthday Plans These Girls Were Making For Me!

I enjoyed arranging the parties and attending them, but standing in front of everyone and being the centre of attraction with every eye on you did not seem to me personally as a good thing.

“Surprise! Happy Birthday! yelled everyone. And then my sister came and put a shimmering gown on me and my sister in law put a big crown on my head. And someone put a banner on my shoulder which said Birthday Girl…”  I was describing my nightmare when my niece interrupted, “A banner?”

“Or it must have been a streamer. But that is not the point.”

“Sash. Sash. It is called a sash,” my other niece was muttering in the background.

“Whatever and there was Chitra aunty and she brought orange balloons and everyone was shouting. Then Smita aunty came with a huge packet and said here are your gifts. There are 60 of them. You gave me 50 useless things on my 50th birthday. So here are your 60 gifts and they were all gold necklaces with a temple jewellery design. Why are you laughing?”

My 60 th birthday was approaching and so I decided to introspect and look back at my life spent 60 years on this earth. It was a time to think deeply. What I have done, what I have achieved, what I should do, and what I have learnt.

Reflecting on the years passed by I suddenly realised that I was a fool. Even after so much experience, I seem to take people at face value and believe what they say.

Take these birthday parties. Many of my friends are turning 60 this year. 2 years of Corona had restrained people from coming together and celebrating, and suddenly we were getting invited for surprise birthday parties of friends and relatives. I enjoyed arranging the parties and attending them, but standing in front of everyone and being the centre of attraction with every eye on you did not seem to me personally as a good thing. I would feel embarrassed. ”So would we,” said some of my friends and cousins. But they seem to enjoy it when their turn came.

And then I had that nightmare.

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“I want,” I said and my two nieces who were buried in their mobile looked up eagerly at me and asked “What?” I looked stunned at their strange behaviour. Unless you took away their mobiles they could not hear anything and here they were answering in the first instance! “Ah!” I realized. The birthday!

“I want you to arrange a conference call with your sister. I want to discuss my birthday.”

They called my daughter and her frowning face appeared. ”Why are you calling me now? I am busy.”

“Aunty wants to discuss about her birthday.” Her frown rapidly disappeared and she seemed to be making some secret gestures to her cousins.

“I don’t want a surprise birthday party.” I emphatically stated.

”It is no use giving you a surprise party Mom,” said my daughter. ”You don’t know how to act surprised.”

“And the first thing she will do is scold you tai,” said my niece who knew me. Well it was true!

“And any way there is no way we can ask her to come to a hotel. She will suspect especially if Baba asks her to go out for dinner.” Added my daughter.

“So let us plan a party.”

“No. No party. We cannot spend money like that.”  I objected.

“And we will do a makeover of Auntie,” said my other niece with a glint in her eye as she planned covering my face with makeup stuff.

“Dont worry Mom. Both of us have a job so money is no problem.“

“No. No party. Even if we decide to invite people who are close, it will be around 200-250. It is not possible to talk and spend time with all. And even if we say no, people give gifts. And it is usually jewellery or dress material or saree or purse or stoles or silver utensils… all of which I don’t use. I have plenty of clothes,” I said and then realized – “You know I don’t remember the last time I purchased a dress of my choice. And I can’t, because I still have 5 dresses given by friends and relatives which I haven’t yet stitched.”

“Let us do it now.”

“No. There is no place to keep the dresses and no occasion to wear all those which I have.”

“So then what should we do?”

“Well, I had planned to say thank you to all who have helped me in my life up till now and post it on FB.”

”That is so boring mom.”

“And you will sound like the Miss World. I want to thank my parents and family and especially may daughter and nieces…” added my niece.

”But if I cannot be Miss World, I can at least try saying thank you in her style!”

“I have an idea!” Suddenly my niece cried out.

“Do you want to anything special and could not do till now? Something you always wanted to do but could not?”

“Yes. But I can’t do it now. It would be difficult.”

“Nothing is difficult Aunty. Tell us. We will arrange something.”

“I as a child wanted to be a trapeze artist. But I know it is an impossible and impractical dream, because I will not be able to swing.”

There was a stunned silence and then my niece shook her head and continued as if I had not spoken.

“Visit someplace? Buy something? That will be our gift to you.”

”You want to go on a solo trip? Or on a trip with Baba? We can arrange it.”

“We love you and would like to do something special for you,” said one of my niece sentimentally.

”Oh good!” I brightened at this wish. “Then you can get up on time, eat on time, sleep on time, not spend too much time on mobiles and lap tops, exercise regularly, eat healthy.” I was now getting in my stride. “Brush your hair keep it tidy, wear proper clothes according to me.”

All the three ignored me.

“What about a candlelight dinner in a 5 star hotel?”

“Eat Dal and Roti in semidarkness? Not interested.”

“Coming back to it again, what did you want to do when you first got married but could not do?”

“There were many things I wanted to do but they have no meaning now”

“Why? “

“What are garlands and crown to the brow that is wrinkled, Tis but as a dead flower with May-dew besprinkled” I quoted Byron.

”What?”

“The things which have to be done in youth that cannot give same pleasure now. I would have loved to go trekking and take part in adventure sports. Do parasailing and bungee jumping. But cannot do anything like that now as I have spondylitis and vertigo, and then they make you take off your glasses during the activity and everything is blurred.”

“So what would you like to do now? If you were granted a wish, how would you spend your birthday?”

“With our family having picnic under the trees sitting on carpet and watching the brook babble itself into a small waterfall and listening to Rafi songs.”

In one accord all the three turned and looked silently at the heavy downpour going outside.

“Let us give her 60 things. I remember she gave me 18 things on my 18th birthday. I have made a list.” Sang out my  niece.

“Let me look at the list,” my daughter said sitting next to her and looking in her phone.

“Pen, Pencil Scale, Rubber bands OK. Lipstick, Nailpolish, earrings, necklace, bindis,-remove all these. They are useless.”

“But then how can I make up 60 items?”

“I don’t mind getting 60 types of Chocolates” I suggested.

“Mom you have Diabetes.”

“You all can help me eat them”

So the nieces decided to collect 60 types of chocolates for me.

“But what about me? I want to do something special for you. Something which I only can do without your help.”

I brightened up. ”Yes there is something I really want in which you can help and no one can.”

“What? Tell me.”

“I want to be a grandmother and only you can make this wish come true! Hey, where are you going? What about my birthday gift?”

***

Do you think my daughter will arrive at my doorstep with my grandchild in her arms on my birthday which is 15 days away?

Nah!

She knows I hate surprises.

Image source: a still from the film Jhimma

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