The Dictionary in my head defines Birthday as “A day meant to wish people to celebrate the day of their birth. An opportunity to hear their happy voices, to show them I remember and I care enough to make that call once a year. A sure way to catch up atleast once every year. And mainly, the desperate need to wish on the same day to keep the charm intact!” The same dictionary also defines Courtesies as “Being thoughtful, polite, grateful and nice to people!” Unfortunately, the same stupid dictionary also defines Expectations as “Hoping people would do and be the same towards me!”
I have celebrated 6 of my birthdays with parties organised by friends and family – surprises, candles, cakes, birthday songs, gifts, the works! People have celebrated the rest of the 32 with me, with midnight visits, midnight calls, gifts, flowers, greeting cards, calls all day.
Slowly over the last few years, emails would pour in too, from people who could neither make calls nor send messages but who preferred to put a personal note on email.
Then came FB, reminding my friends, family, acquaintances, friends of friends, acquaintances of acquaintances with a “Today is Sailakshmi Deepak’s birthday, write a birthday wish on their timeline!”, and gave them an option to wish me, and they did. It was a godsend for those who would have otherwise forgotten, a pain in the neck for people who don’t really know me, a chance for people who genuinely care and wanted to wish me, an additional channel for some who wanted to send me more and more wishes, a general news feed for those others who are addicted to FB and have no clue of who and where I am, and maybe even forgot who they actually did wish, even 2 mins later!
Soon there was WhatsApp, BBM and free SMS, for people who actually remembered and wanted to send a message to me. Over time, I saw this perfect down-slide of personalized wishes. Finally, I ended up moving to Dubai being completely out of bounds for local and national calls.
I have been trying to swim against this tide for too long now. I foolishly call people and say hi only to hear a very puzzled ‘Really? You just called to say hi?’ Then they say ‘Oh that is so sweet of you’ and get totally chatty and it feels like old times. Or they say ‘Ok then if it isn’t urgent, I will call you back or give me a couple of hours am in the middle of something’ and most of the times they never call back nor do they take my second call. Also, I stupidly call all my closest friends and family for every single birthday and anniversary of theirs only to hear ‘Thank you, thanks for remembering and you never fail to call!’ and we get totally chatty and catch up on stuff. Or they say ‘Hey thanks ya, can I call you back?’ and they never ever do.
I totally understand that where there is expectation there is always disappointment. So I am a bit stunned by this feeling I am going through. FB asks me what I am feeling and I started putting up this long write up and thought it makes for a good round of rambling, so here it is.
Yes, yesterday was my birthday. It was hugely different from the 38 I have seen so far.
My family and friends are the best, undeniably the best, but my birthday was a totally disappointing one. Numbers don’t lie, and neither do I.
1. Number of people I made personal calls to, in 2013 for birthdays and anniversaries = 44
(Data from my diary where I note down important dates and ensure I call them personally without caring about which part of the world they are in. And ensure the kids sing a birthday song for the ones who they know very well!)
2. Number of Emails sent, Skype calls, Gtalk calls and Phone calls made in 2013 just to say Hi and saying ‘I miss you’ = 200 approx. to about 50 people.
(Data not accurate because I don’t track my local, std, isd, skype, gtalk, talkonaut calls to see how much time and money I have spent on keeping in touch, and understanding that people always hesitate to make STD and ISD calls.)
3. August 25th – My birthday (With due respect, love, appreciation and gratitude to all those who made this effort)
a. No. of phone calls – 5
b. No. of Skype calls – 4
c. No. of emails – 4
d. No. of WhatsApp and SMS messages – 8
e. No. of calls I made to get wished – 1 (I wasn’t desperate; I know this forgetful friend would guilt trip herself later and I wanted to save her from that!)
4. Facebook Messages – Over 200, and I have personally replied to each and every one of them. And I already said what I think about FB wishes.
So this evening when I checked FB, it said “What are you thinking?” I really wondered “What was I thinking?” and all those numbers stared into my face reminding me that I am the biggest fool ever. Nobody celebrates birthdays anymore, nobody celebrates a person anymore!
Nobody can ever give the smile on a birthday girl’s face, when she sees the name flashing on her screen knowing a warm wish is coming her way. Nobody can ever experience the charm of hearing the happy voice of a birthday girl when she knowingly takes that call.
Nobody can ever hear my happy birthday voice or see my happy birthday grin for another 364 days even if he/she tried. Too little too late.....
And for all those who don't believe in Birthdays and Celebrating theirs....... You grew up too soon, that child in you has gone to sleep for way too long!!!