Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

बुद्धिजीवियों की बारात

बुद्धिजीवियों की बारात
शरद जी रिटायर हो चुके थे। आधार का भय आधारहीन मान कर आधार बनवा चुके थे, और पेंशन प्राप्त कर के भोपाल मे जीवनयापन कर रहे थे। एक बार बिहार जा कर शरद जी नरभसा चुके थे, पुन: नरभसाने का कोई इरादा था नहीं, सो मामाजी के राज में स्वयं को सीमित कर के रखे हुए थे। इस्लाम आज कल ख़तरे मे नही आता था, संभवत: इमर्जेंसी के बाद से, इस्लाम सबल हो चुका था, और कल निपचती जींस और लोकतंत्र के ख़तरे मे रहने का दौर चल रहा था। न्यू मार्केट के कॉफ़ी हाऊस मे चंद बुद्धिजीवी लोकतंत्र पर आए संकट पर चर्चा कर लेते थे, जोशी जी वहाँ भी नहीं जाते थे। एक दफे वहाँ के मलियाली वेटर्स को जोशी जी के हिंदी लेखक होने का पता चल गया और उन्होंने जोशीजी को यिंदी यिम्पोजीशन के विरोध मे कॉफ़ी देने से मना कर दिया था। कहाँ शरदजी सरस्वती से ब्रह्मप्रदेश तक लिखना चाहते थे और कहाँ उन्हे बड़े तालाब के उत्तर भाग का लेखक घोषित कर दिया गया था। इस से क्षुब्ध जोशी जी अपने बग़ीचे मे टमाटर उगा रहे थे। जानने वाले कहते हैं कि इसके पीछे उनकी मँशा महान किसान नेता बन कर उभरने की थी, किंतु उन्हे पता चला कि आधुनिक किसान नेता किसानों को …

Know the Naxals- A brief look at the History

There have been many debates of late on the television, in the wake of the arrests of those who are now increasingly mentioned as the Urban Naxals. I am both shocked and amused at the same time to look at the audacity of the sympathizers of Naxal terrorism, in all their starched Saris and handloom Kurtas, when they hide behind the same constitution, that the want to overthrow. They are shrill, sophisticated, eloquent and deriding. They hate the common folks, and their disdain for those who work, create and make a living, peeps through their elitist smiles. They are mostly ideologues (yes, that is some work for sustenance in the modern scheme of things), academics and well, ostensibly, writers and poets. The fact remains that when communism is the scheme of things, Naxal notices mentioning Jan Adaalats in the villages of Chattisgarh too become work of art, and corpses hanging from the electricity poles, become equivalent of art work on the roof of Sistine chapel.
The other day, Ms. Arun…

A Husband's Views On Karvachauth

Today is the day of Indian, or should I say, Hindu festival of Karvachauth, much popularized by Bollywood. Initially a festival of Northern India, now it is widely celebrated. The festival is primarily of a day of fasting, observed by married women, praying for the long life of their husbands. As is the practice, the festival is marked by severe criticism every year by over-jealous atheists, fanatic feminists and bigoted secularist, who claim that the festival is patriarchal, regressive and anti-woman. If one considers those rants to be true, one would believe that there is huge amount of physical and emotional trauma that womenfolk are subjected to, in order to get them around to fast on the day.  However, if one were to visit any of the markets in Delhi, the scenario is quite contrary. You will find happy, joyous women on the streets of Delhi, excitedly visiting beauty parlors, with their husbands dragged themselves behind them, holding the kids as wife gets Mehandi to her hands- do…