Roughly a month has elapsed since I last posted on this blog, and I shall apologize again. Readers of the future, you might wonder what prevented young Tejas from blogging about his life. I’ve been busy writing a few (not all) of my exams and completing the moot I first blogged about in January. The exams were so-so, the moot was a fabulous experience (out of this world), and my first year came to an end.
Tragic, I know. (Not so much.)
There are a plethora of things I wish to write about. This post, however, will focus on my 18th birthday.
My mother asked me to blog about this. I’ve erased multiple drafts of this post over the last week, simply because none of them felt like they did justice to everything that happened on the 11th of May, 2016. I’m going to write about this at great length, and, parents, regardless of how enthusiastic and emotional this post might turn out to be, I am truly overwhelmed and grateful.
Again, I shall give you the context you need to grasp my gratitude. Over the past three years, I’ve celebrated my board exams spending birthdays. Conversely, rather, I’ve spent my board exams celebrating my birthday. This meant impeccably timed breaks to cut a small home-baked cake, a familial gathering for a few (2) hours, and lots of studying. Past papers, to be precise. I even spent 11th May 2015, writing my Chemistry Paper 4 exam.
Who wouldn’t want to answer 100 marks of something organic, inorganic, periodic, and physical? What made it more fun was that on 10th May, I had written CLAT, and on 12th May, I had my Mathematics Paper 5. Basically, my birthday in 2015, was 2, maybe 3 hours of sleep, 1 hour cutting and eating cake, and well, 20 hours doing academic related activities.
Not studying felt like a waste of my birthday.
Prior to when Cambridge International Examinations was the protagonist of my life, and my Chrome Homepages were XtremePapers and FreeExamPapers, my birthdays were memorable and fun. Each of those 14 times.
My parents are perfectionists. And neither of them are lazy. Which is problematic and lovely. See, it’s problematic for me because I like sleep (despite the fact that I don’t get much at college). I presume it’s lovely for them, because everything they plan is perfectly executed. Including birthdays.
Most of it comes from the fact that my parents are big children themselves. My mom’s the younger one, I mean, look at her, craving for attention on a public platform. They get excited about the smallest things (something I’ve inherited).
They planned a birthday at Fuddruckers, with the best clown, play area, potato wedges, and onion rings.
OH AND A WINNIE THE POOH CAKE.
They planned a birthday at Al Bustan Center, with the most enjoyable Arcade Games and Entertainment.
AND A CRICKET CAKE.
And before we left for India, they planned a wonderful birthday party at a park, renting out a massive area for all my friends and I. There was no concept of hatred or disliking people when we were younger, right? Which meant that everyone in class was invited for everyone’s birthday party. Which meant that the crowd was pretty big. And loud. Mix this with some aerated drinks, food, and games, and you have a recipe for the most energy you have ever seen in your life. We wouldn’t need that reusable SolAero stuff to power any of our rockets in India if you could convert this energy to the sort of fuel ISRO needed.
It was a racket.
This was in addition to all of the “normal” birthday things that happened at school: cakes in class, candy for everybody, candy for self, new clothes and the best part, fancy hair (my fancy hair was my normal hair + hair gel, but it was exciting, nonetheless).
IN 5TH GRADE WE WROTE CERTIFICATES FOR MY TEACHERS FOR BEING GOOD TEACHERS BECAUSE I WAS LEAVING AND WE GAVE IT TO THEM ON MY BIRTHDAY BECAUSE I WAS LEAVING SCHOOL.
THESE WERE PRINTED CERTIFICATES WITH MY UBER-COOL SIGNATURE (Read: Autograph) ON THEM.
My mom even planned her own 40th Birthday Party. Featuring me + dad.
As I grew older, birthdays became fancy lunches with friends and family. The sentiment and the planning was retained, and there always remained an element of surprise.
It was always Cake. But the flavour and design were always a surprise. And they were delicious surprises.
I like Cake.
Basically, my parents were more excited than I was for my birthdays. Even when board exams (flouted as the “most important”, “decisive”, “employers will look at your marks”, “colleges will look at your marks”, “potential spouse’s parents will ask for your marks”, “kid will ask for your marks”, “kid will laugh at your marks”, “aunty’s friend’s sister’s uncle’s son will get better marks” type exams in India) were going on.
For the first time in 3 years, I didn’t have anything consequential to think about on my birthday.
So my parents told me they wanted me to come to Dubai. After a year or so.
I got here on May 10th and spent the entire evening with both my parents, talking about life and everything.
I stayed up past 12, counting down to my birthday like Harry Potter in the first book (in a way more loving, comfortable environment), and went to sleep.
I woke up around 7:30 to use the washroom. I was half-dazed, my eyes were not open, so I was pretty oblivious to everything around me, but I heard sounds of tape.
I didn’t care much. I walked back and went back to sleep.
My mother screeched wake up calls into my ear with my father watching. I imagine that the man felt sympathy for me. Appa, the screech. You could have stopped it. I felt betrayed. But so loved, nonetheless. I knew you wanted me awake too.
She then lied to me. She told me it was 10.30. So I jolted awake (basically my eyes opened and I reached for my glasses). Glasses are magical things. The clock showed 9 AM so I moaned and groaned, only to be greeted by a hug. Two hugs. Because it was 10.30 in India.
Which is not the clock my body was on, but hey.
One of those hugs was this warm bear hug that only my dad and I can share. The same warm hug that greets me at airports and at home. Magnified by two bears. Or more bears.
I got up (rolled out of my blanket), brushed my teeth and things, and looked around. Our curtains had those cute party “Happy Birthday” banners on them. To my right was this huge, yellow, photo banner, with all of these photos through the ages. I never realized how much I had actually changed over the years until I looked at the photos (minus the hair. It’s been the same).Photos as recent as March were in this chronologically arranged, perfect banner. It was very sentimental.
In front of me was a chocolate banner. Which used chocolates to write out a delightful message about life and things. And used “Mega Big Babool” to describe me. It had space jokes too (because of my moot), which provided quite a chuckle (they used Orbit and Galaxy creatively).
And then came the whammy. The double whammy. The triple whammy. The quadruple whammy. The quintuple whammy. Till 18 whammies.
It started with a limerick. Crafted by my aunt (who loves riddles and puzzles and knows the way my brain works), it contained the names of 18 gifts hidden around our house. I couldn’t crack it.
I got 14. I blame this on my sleepy state. It took me 20 minutes. And I needed extra help.
I was still sleepy, but there was more activity in store.
My mom came out of kitchen holding 4 clues in her hand. Each clue represented an area of our house (bedroom, lobby, kitchen, living room), and I had to use the clues, match them to my list, and find the gifts. It was a treasure hunt of epic proportions designed for a non-sleep deprived adult given to a sleep-deprived adult.
I took 1 hour to find the gifts and crack the clues. And they were all so easy, looking back.
BUT THE GIFTS, O THE GIFTS.
There’s a customized mug, with a funny quote, a customized shirt that says “Legend, since 1998”, a pillow-cover that says “Today Has Been Cancelled, Go Back To Sleep”, a book called Manual to Manhood – where the first chapter is Women & Dating, and the second is Social Skills and Manners (thanks mom). There’s a survival kit with emergency money, a deck of cards with 52 sentimental reasons they love me.
There’s also a scrapbook. A scrapbook with these heart-warming messages from the most wonderful people I have ever interacted with. I don’t know how my mother got in touch with my friends (how, ma?) and coaxed them into putting effort into writing down sentimental thoughts about me. Largely because this enthusiasm my mom has isn’t as infectious through social media, and, most of my friends were writing exams. It was so cool to see how much work she put into all of this.
Every single gift has 18 years worth of memories inside of it. Memories that they have of each of those years. I could map them to the photo banner and show you different stages of Tejas when each memory was created.
They even bought me a domain. A domain of my own! I can’t wait to customize it, and you’ll see this blog there, soon enough.
While all of this shows how much they love me, I was just at a complete loss for words and expressions. I didn’t know what to do, or say.
I was welcomed into the world of adulthood while being pampered like a little baby. How lovely.
I can only hope to emulate this when I’m in their shoes. My mom’s creativity brought my parents love for me to a tangible form. It’s very inappropriate to just say “Thank You” for all of that.
We need more English words to express love. Maybe I’ll coin a few some day. Not tonight.
Then we went to the Temple and stuff.
I ate curd rice for lunch. Homemade. Straight up Sona Masoori, with Almarai set curd. Full cream. Full fat.
We went out for dinner to this lovely restaurant called Feast, at the Sheraton Grand, which my dad picked out specifically because it had a delicious, delicious buffet with a lovely Italian and dessert section.
And just after we had admired the beautiful view it presented and sat down, I was surprised by my best friend and his family. This guy had his board exams going on, and I wasn’t sure when I’d meet him. And he took time off to come to dinner. We hadn’t met in a year or so, and we hadn’t spent either of our birthdays together in 8 years. As compared to when we were children and were inseparable at all parties. Except when dancing was the activity at hand. He was a rockstar. I was a potato. Distance from all cameras was my only goal.
The food was delicious, the conversation was lovely.
And yes, there was cake. Tiramisu cake. The best Tiramisu cake I have ever had.
That’s how I celebrated getting voting rights. My age now tells you I’m an adult. Nothing feels like it’s changed, though. I haven’t grown a tail or anything.
Maybe I’ll feel different once the responsibilities come my way.
Curd Rice, out.