[Disclaimer: This is purely a personal post, utterly boring, unneccesarily lengthy, containing no literary skills at all, the charecters are unknow to my readers and the situations are non contextual, in short this post is totally uncalled for on this blog. I write it just because I have to write something on each of my birthday. Reading it would be a complete waste of valuable resources. And am not saying these just to grab more attention, I am serious. You can easily skip this post]


In the month of November 2006 I wrote a mail to some of my ‘close’ friends. (I address an aquaintance as ‘a close friend’ when I start having expectations from him/her or when I can share my fears and weaknesses with him/her) I am quoting the contents of that mail here…it no longer is something I share only with these ‘close friends’…

To all my near and dear ones.

come november and am already worried about facing a bad birthday. This has been a trend for quite some years now. 23rd January was my worst day in 2006 so far and I suspect it would be the worst of 2007 as well.

when we all gathered for Montu’s bday, when we planned pastries for the jan, feb and march bday boys n girls, when u guys landed up in Ansy’s place…all those while I wondered would you be there for me in 2007 celebrating my birtday??

then we had the NDTV big fight when my whole world almost came crashing…i said “this is it” and dreaded the 2007 bday. but then we were friends again and I knew even if everybody else forgets there would be one person, the one who is always making efforts on every birthday..Snigs….Alas she is leaving for Bangalore… won’t even be here on my Birthday…and my fears continues……

Guys.. please don’t forget my 30th birthday in 2007. Please make me feel good that day.

PS. Montu….sweetheart, I didn’t forget your honest efforts to take me out on my last birthday and also didn’t forget how you were the only good thing that happened to me that day.

So what did these close friends do for me this birthday? Nothing. One of them didn’t wish at all, another wished only at the fag end of the day. One wished only once at midnight. Snig is in Bangalore and I know she did her best to make a difference but it didn’t work.

Montu of course was once again one of the two best thing that happened this birthday.

What happaned when the close friends turned out to be not so close… the distant friends rescued my 30th birthday.

Every year on Saraswati Puja (commonly known as Vasant Panchami) Lady Irwin School celebrates its reunion day. Making it kinda convenient for ex students. To be able to catch up with the friend you didn’t see in 20 years all you have to do is mark vasant panchmi on your calender and be in school that day. Chances are she would be there too.

Papiya couldn’t attend any of the reunions ever since we passed out. First, she moved to Kolkata then she got married to an Air Force Officer. This year she was here with her husband, the officer.. (don’t tell anyone but the only reason she married him was because the day she gave us the news that this guy came to see her, we all exclaimed in chorus.. “what did you say, Air Force!! Wow!!“)

This year Saraswati Puja also happened to fall on my birthday. Papiya wanted to visit school for the reunion.. (she mainly wanted to show Swarup all the notorious hide outs we had when we used to bunk the classes, the trees under which we had our first fags, wanted him to meet those teachers whose real name she no longer remembers… Mala D, Singri, kacchap (Bengali term for Tortoise), amitabh bacchan (we had a good reason to call her so)

I readily agreed to papiya’s plans since I knew I wouldn’t be doing anything better that day. Seema is the most organised person in our gang. She not only ensures she attends the reunion in our school and also visits Prashant’s school every year but this year she also performed saraswati puja at her own home.

Me and papiya decided to visit school, meet up with Seema and Prashant there and then move for a lunch somewhere. While Seema managed to perform the puja, visit both the school and then reach Dilli haat by 2pm, Me, Papiya, Swarup and their daughter Juhi could only manage to reach Dilli Haat at 3pm.

Montu wanted to meet me for lunch cause he was to leave for Bombay in the evening. It was obvious he had baught a gift for me and wanted to give it over lunch, but he turned up at Delhi Haat empty handed. For once I thought, ok…why is here?

I mean it was bad enough that Seema and Papiya didn’t get a gift, alright none of us knew we were going to see each other on 23rd untill 22nd late evening, (actually Seema didn’t even know that I was in Delhi) and alright Papiya was stuck with her 2 year old daughter in a deserted army mess on a deserted Palam-Dwarka road, and alright Seema was up at 4 am in the morning arranging everything, the rituals, the offerings etc. and alright they would land up at my door step in just one sms in distress even if that sms was sent after years of silence on my part, but still a birthday is a birthday and Montu… !!!

It’s been about 20 years of friendship with these girls and most of us no longer remember how we got to be friends in the first place. Just like a child doesn’t remember when was the first time it called its parents ‘mom and dad’ or siblings ‘bro or sis.’ It’s like we were born with this friendship.

Not that we all think we are great people and therefore we love and respect each other a lot, not like we are a bunch of mother teresas and gandhis who have never done any harm to any body, let alone each other, not even like they have always made me feel great or something, for one…they never arranged a birthday party for me and vice versa. There have been occassions when we have failed each other big time, made each other cry, we don’t see each other for months, at times years and yet when in trouble we call up and talk as if it was yday that we last hung up. For this gang No news is good news.

The rest of my birthday was spent in fond memories, Prashant and Swarup would often be clueless as we 3 started recalling our notorious days at school, but then they are used to it… in all get to gethers that’s all we girls do… “Do you remember…” one of us would go and the rest of us would be like…ya ya I do….and what about that…and do you remember…” And we’ll go on like that.

Montu had to push off for work. He seemed to be feeling low, I also couldn’t give him much attention, I felt bad for him, wanted to talk to him one on one but couldn’t. He hugged and left. I kept thinking something is wrong.

There was one more person, Amit, who made me feel proud of myself for having earned a priceless relationship with him, he is niether a close nor a distant friend, yet he could put that smile on my face, the one that I wait for on all my birthdays. He came to see me in the evening. A warm presence, a gift nicely wrapped in a bright red colored paper and lots of talking and laughing… all so unconditional. Unconditional because there were no obligations, no expectations.

I had the most expectations from Montu and the other *close* friends, the second most from the childhood friends, very very little expectation from Amit and none whatsoever from all those forgotten people, whom I have met on various occassions, Yanker trek, SRI Pune, my previous workplace, who called up from all parts of the country and the world to wish me.

I was driving home after dropping Papiya at their mess when my cell rang again for the 100th time or so. I practically did a single hand driving all through the day that day. “You didn’t mind I didn’t get a gift for you?” Asked Seema from the other side of the cell. “Well, I did. Its my birthday. I do expect a Gift.” I replied. “And would you believe if I say I forgot your gift at home. Sanju, I want to see me once before you leave for Bangalore, if not for anything, come over to collect your gift.” She paused. I did too, wondering if that was a trick to get me to drive to her place in Noida, cause she knew I wouldn’t drive down that far that easily, and she is being forever wishing we all visit her new home once.

Birthdays are days of bad rememberance | People who didn’t wish, people who failed you, things you couldn’t achieve, things that you have lost.

Birthdays are days of elimination | You no longer call some people your close friends

Birthdays are days of learning | You learn that smile lives in the most unexpected places. You learn some friends have crossed that point of no return, so they will always be there with you, they might hate you, but they’ll be there. You learn your sister would never get you a gift, even though you practically begged for it.

Birthdays are days of humbling experiences | You realise you don’t know the birthdays of so many people who called and wished you. You realise Shashant still cares for you to have called you all the way from Dubai and you have missed his birthday twice.

Come to think of it…birthdays are not so bad after all…are they??

Hey Hey Hey!! Wait. My 30th birthday isn’t over yet, it can’t be over untill Montu has given his grand gift.. A beautiful bunch of red roses I got when I reached home. They were so so pretty I felt like hugging them and looking at them for hours. I called him up. He was in Bombay already. Thanked him. He still sounded low. I tried asking but he didn’t say anything. Said, “am happy you liked the flowers.”