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Why I Hate Birthdays?

Don't get me wrong. I am not a depressed teenager contemplating death as a plausible way out of life. I have too tough a hide for that. There used to be a time when Birthdays excited me to no ends.
A birthday is a perfect occasion to reconfirm and substantiate one's station in life. Friends embrace, kisses, blessings- your role as a father, husband, child is all settled once again. Your station in life is substantiated, reaffirmed. You are a prince (or the princess if you are a woman) for a day. 

But then you grow up, get wiser and broken from inside. You realize the inadequacy of the dream to keep you aloft. You no longer levitate, in spiritual terms. You dread the day, you drag yourself through it. It lies at your door, like a dead dog, in such an awkward fashion that you cannot walk around it. The pretense of your being a special person doesn't survive unblemished for even for an hour- an unadulterated, unbroken hour. 

You realize that the day is as crappy as any other day as the one that preceded it or the one that is to follow it. Social media makes it easier for people to make a wish. Even Linkedin connects, people you have never met or spoken to in person, start wishing you. You know they could as well be wishing a very happy birthday to a dead person. You are old enough, so old that life is tiring. I was reading Virginia Woolf's writer's journals the other day. She laments, ponder over the fact she is 45, and wonders how many books she still has left in her, yet unwritten. She is the Virginia Woolf. I think of it. I am 45. I have written couple of poetry books, I have just published a collection of stories. It is there up. I suck at promoting and selling them, even though I know I do have something to tell (which is why I wrote them). But the painful saga of awkward promotion of The Rude Tenderness of Our Heart is another story. Pertinent point here is that scathing, unforgiving thought that much of life's work is yet undone. And no, it has nothing to do with the career, the selling of IT, which I do for the upkeep of the family. How many books will I write? How many by the time I am 55?

I write in short jerks and between long breaks. Sometimes I convince myself that I am writing when I am spending long hours preparing to write, or trying to approach real writing in a hugely round-about way- reading interviews, twitter (author's platform) and all that nonsense. Time passes me by. I do not get fooled anymore. I am old. I know my station in life. A small cake is just an alibi of the value of a relation, value of a person. The ideas are uncertain, the voice is tremulous. I mutter what I want, slowly, hesitatingly. I am given a small, pale Pineapple cake to cut, and brief embarrassed clap follows. My daughter laughs. The laugh is pretty, as always, like clinking of crystals. It fills and lights up the bland day.

The day is over. I read Yeats. 
An aged man is but a paltry thing
A tattered coat upon the stick, unless
soul claps its hands and sing, and louder sing

I whistle against the night breeze, but the soul doesn't sing. The soul is tired, of years of neglect, of being relegated to good sense. I ran after happiness, a hope of an ideal life fades. People around me, do not realize that time is outrunning them quicker than it is outrunning me. Still stuck in their diminutive egos, they strut around. We smile, while hating one another. Civility or cowardice, the line is too thin. The fan, makes unpleasant sound, which rises, hammering the conscience. I end the day, reading Virginia Woolf- I have lived a thousand lives already. Everyday I unbury- I dig up. I find relics of myself in the sand that women made thousand of years ago, when I heard songs by Nile and the chained beast stamping

Will I once again hold this unruly beast steady, only time will tell? The hope is little, the adamant soul is unyielding. Phew, another birthday is gone. I am old. Last year have seen some younger souls than me leave this mortal world. Age rides on my soul. I always had an ancient soul, it is even older now. The era behind me is longer than the era ahead of me. The shadow of my past mistakes is longer than the dim Sun of my future can ever wash away. The shadows are getting longer by the hour. 
It is embarrassing to write about unhappy passage of the birthday in an age when pouts and loud celebrations mark the birthdays in very public celebrations. But that what it is. I found a quote which covers beautifully my feelings on a birthday. It is by Hemingway.

His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.” 

He wrote it long back. I feel he wrote it for me.
The shadow of silences walk in wearing heavy boots.
The night is overwhelmed in those shadows. The night is
 drowning. It gasps for breath. The birthday is over. 

Comments

Helena Dias said…
Although nostalgic and with some bitterness, I agree with most things you write.
My question is: why do you feel this on your birthday? Or, don't you feel the same on the other days?
So, why this weight to the birthday?

For me, it's the beautiful day of the year. The child within us is happy and comes playing with us. Friends remember us and are glad for us (I am talking about friends). The media and social networks ... they are the same all the days of the year, so forget them for one day!!

Please, next year, put a smile in your face!!
saket suryesh said…
The feeling is more pronounced on birthday, because Hypocrisy is much beyond the other days. Every one tries to pretend you are the special one, but you ask one thing which really matters and all the special treatment ends. Thanks a lot for taking time to visit and leaving such heartening comment. I am already smiling.

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