Every birthday it gets harder to convince myself to celebrate.
Make no mistake, I am one of those who joyfully reverts back to childhood on every 14th July (as if I’m not there every other day). Maybe because as an only child, my birthday used to be a family milestone hyped up for many days, before and after. Maybe because it was the only day when the ‘too-shy-to-be-seen’ me enjoyed the spotlight she secretely yearned for. Or maybe it’s just me. (or maybe its Maybelline)
And of course, I have celebrated every milestone with even more gusto. ‘5’ for being in proper school, ’10’ for finally being in double-digits, ’13’, ’16’, ’18’, ’21’, ’24’ ’28’and then 30…. and elipses after that.
When I was young, I was convinced that I wouldn’t live beyond 30. Or even if I did, life would be over anyway-I just had to go through the motions. After all, all the true ‘greats’ achieved it all by 21, and died by 27-Amy Winehouse, being the latest example. 30 was ‘old’! ’30’ was ‘aunty. ’30’ was grown-up.
When did we grow up? I went from ‘baby’ to ‘didi’ to ‘bhabhi’ and now ‘aunty’ to all my kid’s preschoolers in a blink of an eye! And I haven’t done anything that I thought I would do by now. Like write a blockbuster book. Like be world-famous for something. Like receive the Oscars for the greatest Bollywood movie since Mother India. Like winning the Grammy for my No 1 Billboard single in a duet with the Backstreet boys. Like being drop-dead-room-destroying gorgeous. (And that was only in ‘this’ world.)
But when I hit 30, I was in denial. Or simply too distracted by my babies. And I celebrated it with gusto of a ‘good’ milestone.
It has taken three years for it to hit me. When I turned 33 this year-I felt down under. And I really was down under for 2 weeks thanks to the omnipresent Singapore virus which kept me prostrate all the time (hence the gap between my posts) Anyway, somewhere in between the oblivion of nausea, dizziness and plain illness-I turned 33. And it finally permeated my system despite the antibiotics.
I was 33. And I had no Oscars or Grammies or even an Abby to show for it. And I was still boringly alive! A work-from-home (or so I claim) mom with a formula husband and 2 formula kids-I was really the quintessential ‘bhala-uski-kameez- meri-kameez-se-safed-kaise ‘Rin aunty’!
‘Happy Birthday!’ My BFF called me up cheerfully.
‘What’s to celebrate?’ I answered grumpily. ’33 is just another year. Another boring mark on the wall!’
‘What’s gotten into you?’
‘Did you know that a 16-year-old is really half your age? I mean, literallly half your age!’
‘When we were young, there were no phones at home! Imagine! No phones! And no cable! And you could buy a bread for two rupees and it was only white and WIBS! It was wrapped in paper!’
‘Okay, you are really sounding sick now…’
‘No, I’m sounding old. I am old.We are old.’
‘No we’re not!’
‘You know the problem with being 33? People older than you don’t take you seriously when you crib about your age. And people younger than you take you too seriously!’
‘Enough! You’re getting so caught up in this nonsense. Imagine all the people worse off than you!’
‘You mean older?’
‘No I mean worse-off! And you’re cribbing about a birthday!’
Hmpfh!I knew working in an NGO would get into her head.
Anyway after that, I popped another paracetamol and went on the internet. And I calculated that a whole 80% of my friends on Facebook and 70% of acquaintances on Linked in were older than me. A happy consequence of entering school early, doing commerce in an engineer’s world and not dropping a single year till post-grad.
I also found out that Jeffrey Archer published his first novel at 36. Satyajit Ray started directing movies in his late 30s. Sylvester Stallone was a deli counter attendant till he was 30.
Hmm….it may not have been such a bad thing to have survived the curse of 27. Being 33 may not really be that hopeless.
Maybe there is still a Grammy or an Oscar in this Rin- ki- safedi mommy!
Let the party begin!