More than a week ago, on the 18th of June, precisely, was my birthday. The special, or rather extraordinary occasion that took place, was not in relation to the day. I had no party. No treats. No outings. I have no resentment towards the absence of any form of celebration. I had every intention of treating it just like any other day and it wasn’t as if I never held any celebrations on normal days. Everyday could be a birthday if the main criteria were the fulfillment of any of the occasions above.
The special thing about this year’s birthday was that I totally forgot it. I would have never thought such a state of mind would ever be possible in my case.
When I was little, my birthday was always a big deal. I guess it’s one of the blessings as well as curses that come to you if you were a first child to parents like mine. My birthday was always celebrated with the typical cake-and-candy scenario until I was about 11 years old. After that, as I became supposedly more “grown-up”, the fun and games transformed into outings and treats with family and friends.
As I got into senior high school, the occasions became less festive but more religious (in search of a better word). My family and I prepared gatherings at home for our close friends and neighbors. We would serve traditional food and drinks for the guests and ask one of my friends or neighbors to lead us into a prayer to Allah to thank Him for His blessings. It was a nice change.
When I got into college, the occasions became a lot simpler. It was usually in the form of treating my friends to food we all like. One of the great things at that time was, my friends liked to make birthday surprises for me. I remember the times when my dorm friends pretended to forget all day and surprised me with cake and presents at night. I remember when my friends from STAN EC came to my dorm at 1 am, also with cake and presents. I remember when my class mate and also class captain poured a bottle of water on my head on my 19th birthday.
After college, there were no more celebrations. The occasions that signaled it was my birthday were the Happy Birthday wishes through calls, text messages, and Facebook. I still got some presents too. It’s not that I did not like treating my friends and holding gatherings, but the change suited my condition. I have been living far away from my friends and family during the last two years. Distance makes some things difficult to do. Among them, celebrating my birthday.
Anyway, the most important thing these days is celebrating every day that I can be with my family and friends. Those times don’t come easy anymore. So whether it is my birthday or not, when I am together with them, it is worth celebrating. Consequently, I don’t feel like celebrating my birthday when they aren’t with me. That was the case this year. I guess the feeling kept building until my mind decided that the memory wasn’t worth keeping. Other than that, I got busier so I always had a lot of things on my mind. My focus was divided as it was.
I wonder what birthdays are like for other people. Is it the non-stop occurrence of festive celebrations? Or does it slowly transform as time goes on? Do some people not celebrate it at all?
I don’t know what my birthdays would be like in the future, but I regard them as checkpoints – like in those video games. It is a parameter for evaluation and introspection. So I can be in a mood for celebration or mourning depending on the results.
In this self-indulgent quest, sometimes failures might seem more evident than achievements. Sometimes age might seem more of a curse than blessing. But I think time itself, as the dimension given, is a blessing and a test. A test itself is a chance, a challenge, and an opportunity.
So let’s just try our best, shall we? “,