Story : Happy Birthday!

~K. Anish Pokharel~

Under normal circumstances, the birth of a baby boy comes as a great moment of happiness for every aspiring father (when I say boy, I, in no proximity, am trying to exercise chauvinism, rather it is my attempt to exemplify ironies, which I am to talk about in subsequent lines). But paradoxically, when I was born — my mother seldom says — I had upset my father. Not because the child was unwanted, but because of the fact that it was a boy! It’s not that my father had a prejudice against the whole gender. Rather, he already had one son and was yearning to have a baby girl. And this is how my coming into existence had been a disappointment!

Ironically, celebrating my birthday had always been an extravagant family affair. No member of the family missed it, except the amnesiacs of course! And even my father — gradually — had come to terms with reality.

As a kid, the day always came to me as a significant event in my yearly calendar. All those colorful balloons, glittering wrappers and scintillating lights still roll at the back of my mind as flashbacks imitating the aftereffects of LSD!

Time went by, and my longing for the day remained impeccable as it was until I was given yet another birthday, a fake one, on my entry to the school, so as to overcome some procedural delays. Since then, I’ve been saddled with these two birth dates a year. I say it is a burden, since as a grown up, celebrating a birthday twice a year can never be amusing, be it the pecuniary constraint or the time!

Trust me.

Moreover, it is not just the money or the time, the entire essence of merriment gets into a quagmire, making you doubt the actual meaning of the day. For someone like me with two sets of birth dates, it invariably loses its significance. And maybe because as an adult the day never meant the same as I had seen it through my childhood eyes. Nevertheless, without a pause, I continued celebrating them just to remind myself how important I was!

Different people have different logic behind birthday celebrations. Some believe it as an important event, whereas the cynics label it as just another prosaic day. Lining with the incorrigible optimists, the fact that the day was to be cherished remained indubitable. Their logic lies in the fact that it is the day we got to see the light after all those nine months of darkness! Moreover, they argue that being born as the most superior being means getting the privilege to perceive the earthly creations of god. Hence, their celebration every year on the same day is a reminder of importance of having been born as a human.

I personally find this lot overtly narcissistic zealots.

There are still others for whom this day comes as a parameter to ascertain their value — the greater the wishes, the bigger the ego enhancement. All in all, an event to prove their self-importance.

There is yet another bunch of darn pessimists for whom a birthday is just a reminder of how closer they are getting to death. With no prejudices, I find them incomprehensible. Since the day my conscience got myelinated, or perhaps the day I understood the epiphany, putting aside my childhood attachments with the glitterati; I personally never found it logical to declare my own birthday (I ain’t tight-fisted — trust me!). This is an important event, no doubt. But not for me to declare, rather it becomes emphatic only when people living around me are happy of my existence.

In trying to make people cognizant of their importance, for years, we have been uttering the age-old greeting, “Many many happy returns of the day,” but is it just enough?

This particular greet reminds me of yet another irony. I vividly recall the embarrassing event some years back at some birthday party. It was an innocent query of some peer about the actual meaning of those sets of words that got me into compelled deliberation. Until then, I’d never thought about its actual indications. At that particular spur of moment, however, I found myself in an abnormal imbroglio. I became aware that I was indeed ignorant of its meaning and had been using it owing to the reflex developed over the years. Nevertheless, I tried convincing my friend with logic, which actually meant nothing; but as always, I succeeded in circumventing the entire conversation.

The above allusion intends to elaborate that there are so many of us for whom a birthday wish doesn’t really implicate their sincere gratefulness of having that particular person among them, rather it is just a reflexive tendency like the way my friend, me, and so many others use the much repeated greeting again and again!

Whatever the underlying propensity is, we continue celebrating birthdays, either as a conditioned reflex or honestly, to express one’s joy of having the other’s presence. The methodology adopted, however, may vary between societies and individuals residing in them. Even then, a single factor remains common, the feeling of self-importance, be it the one reminded by others or the one reminded by ourselves!

With every plausible explanation that can be cited in favor of birthday celebrations, there stand relatively few contraindications. And complying with the above statement, even I (someone with two birth dates) would like to use this platform (although my intentions are ill-defined) to greet everyone, whether important or unimportant, on their respective birthdays by repeating the same old amalgam of words (whose meaning — by now — I claim to have understood)…

Many many happy returns of the day!

(Source :

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