As a kid I used to wait for the 1st of November to arrive. It would mean a lot of things to me. Schools would be closed so I would be at home. Banks would be closed and so daddy would be at home. Beyond just holidays, it was my mother’s birthday and so we would have plans for the entire day!!
At home, we never really celebrated anybody’s birthdays. Since Nov 1st was a non working day in Karnataka we would do something special. Dad would make sure, if nothing was done, we at least caught dinner at some place outside. Well, there was always confusion with my mom’s birthday. She would ask us to celebrate it on the 1st and 2nd. She was born close to 5 am and back then they followed the Hindu calendar where 6 am marks the beginning of a new day. But I would always argue that her birthday falls on the 2nd as once it’s 12 am it was the next day. At least that was what was taught at school. It was like the coffee bite argument – coffee, toffee – and it would continue through the years. Most often we would wish her on the 1st.
Back then, I never woke up at 12 or got her a cake or did anything special to bring in her birthday. Now I do that for so many of them. I wonder why the culture was so different then or why I was so different then. I would only ensure that I did not over sleep on a holiday and was on time to wish her when she was up. An aunt of mine (her eldest sister) would always be the first one to call in the morning. She would call on every one’s birthdays. My mother would do her usual chores and yes, my dad would have bought her a new saree or a piece of jewellery. Dad and me would ensure to not annoy her on that day. Lunch would happen as always. Since we would ask her for sweets, she would make some. Never for herself though, as she was diabetic.
A couple other sisters would call and she would speak for long. That is what she loved to do – talk for hours on the phone. We never went to fancy restaurants then. There was a Sukh Sagar near Jyothi Nivas College in Koramangala. That is where we dined most often. Having 2/3 tomato soup, 1 fried rice, 1 gobi manchurian and some north Indian food was something very special for us. That was what we always ordered. Yes, there was 1 hot chocolate fudge and a kulfi. The stewards were well acquainted with us. They normally would get us our soup and confirm the rest of the order. This is what we would do for all our birthdays and I normally loved it.
That was it, have dinner, get back home and sleep. The only thing I had to remember was to not pull any of my pranks or worry her that day. It was her day off. Not technically though. But yes, I miss those dinners. Slowly as the media picked up and Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan became famous my mother would very proudly say, ‘I share my birthday with Aishwarya and Shah Rukh Khan’. I happen to be a huge SRK fan so the next day as well was celebration time for me. I would ask her to make some sweets again. I would get a piece of cake and have it. Well, that was my way of celebrating SRK’s birthday and in a way making her birthday special as well. If at all I had to follow what was taught in school then her birthday would be on the 2nd.
We followed the exact same ritual until the last birthday we celebrated together. Now when I think of it, I think why didn’t we do anything special. Would I even get a chance to do something special? A lot of questions remain unanswered. But then, I know, my father, me and her siblings will always remember her on her birthday as everyone knows that she was born on the Rajyotsava day. This is what happens when you are born on special days. She was special too and will always be.
Today, she is not around for me to wish her and tell her that I care. But yes, a lot of memories are. I probably will drop by to the Koramangala Sukh Sagar for lunch all by myself and go back memory lane yet again. It’s not going to be the same. Neither is she around nor is that Sukh Sagar. But there is so much more to this day. All that will come live and make me smile as a drop of tear rolls down my cheek to say, Happy Birthday Amma!