Today is 13th December—obviously. Today is my birthday. Not as if it means so much to me as a person. I didn’t get to choose which day I should be born in. I was born in a day. Just like everybody else. You ought to be born. You ought to be born in a certain day. Mine happened to be on the 13th of December. End of story.
A friend once asked me; “What are you going to do on your birthday?” I told him; “I don’t do anything because I don’t need to do anything.” Then he said; “birthday happens once in a year. It’s an opportunity for you to celebrate life—this life that you’ve been given.” So I asked; What about life do I need to celebrate?
When I completed school, I celebrated it. It was a milestone in my life. At work, when we hit the annual target of zero injuries, we celebrate it. It feels the effort has been worth it. I felt I’ve helped people work throughout a period without sustaining any injury. That’s worth celebrating.
What is it about birthdays that I need to celebrate? If it’s about celebration of life, then I can make everyday a celebration. There is life everyday till there is no more life.
I wish people a happy birthday if I see it means so much to them. Those who wish me a happy birthday, of course I respond gleefully. It still doesn’t change a thing. If I have reasons to hate birthdays, then it would be for the following reasons;
#1. Artificial Wishes
Some years ago, it meant something when somebody wished you a happy birthday. It meant that you are so important to the person that they kept your birthday in their head. They kept it in their head and actually went ahead to remember it on the day that they had to remember. That was when birthday wishes came from the heart.
Today, because of Facebook everybody knows everyone’s birthday. Every morning, my calendar bings with notification of birthdays of people I barely knew and ask me to wish them well. Skype does the same and many other social media do the same thing.
Then friends hop on your Facebook wall and write essays of wishes as if they’ve thought of it for a long time. As if they planned your birthday over a month to be able to come up with those wishes. Then there are these ones too who don’t even have time to write their words in full; HBD…that’s all you get from people who want to make you believe they care. Your birthday means a lot to them but they don’t have time to write their wishes for you in full.
#2. A reminder that I’m dying So Soon
I’m not afraid to die. I don’t want to be reminded that my days are numbered. One day I will die and every birthday draws me closer to that day. I don’t know how long I’m going to dwell here. If I will live for a hundred years, each birthday takes a year out of the hundred. Each year I die a little. That’s alright. But why remind me of it? Why remind me I’ve wasted one more year already?
The way I see it, birthday isn’t an addition to your years. It’s a subtraction from the ultimate years you have to live. Everyday, every month, every year takes an amount away. An amount you can never regain. I don’t want to be reminded of that. If there is a way I can control people, I would do it in such a way that people will forget to remember my birthday.
#3. I want to be forever young
In 1984, coincidentally the year I was born, Alphaville released their hit track “Forever Young.” In the song they asked; “Do you really want to live forever young?” Yes Alphaville, that’s all I’ve ever dreamt to be. Forever young.
The only thing that stops me from living forever young is this birthday thing. The more I accumulate plenty birthdays, the more my dream of living forever young diminishes. So I hate birthdays. I wish it never comes—or somebody just remember to forget my birthday. Then at least, I can pretend it never comes. I can pretend I’m living a dream of being forever young.
Alas, My phone just rung. Who was it on the line? A colleague from my former office. He had little to say. Just the three words I don’t want to hear—happy birthday day.
#4. It keeps coming every year
Happiness is knowing that an event comes once in a lifetime. And in your lifetime it’s here. You give yourself away in that moment. You celebrate it as if tomorrow will never come. In your mind, you won’t get to do it again—never. So your adrenaline is up and you are all for the moment.
Birthdays come every year—every year till you die. It gets boring along the line. It becomes a routine—same people wishing you a happy birthday, you eat your favorite food or drink, you travel to your favorite place or you do nothing at all. A repetition of that every year for say fifty years or more makes birthdays lose their spark. No wonder most old people don’t want to hear anything about it.
#5. Wishes don’t come true
The best wish I’ve ever had on a birthday goes like this; “Happy birthday dear. May life bring you everything that you are dreaming about.” This was sent to me by my crush. At that moment, all I wanted from life was to hear her say yes to my proposal. She said no to me several times yet she was wishing me to get everything I dreamt of. How ironic.
Of what use are all those wishes? They might come from a place deep inside but it doesn’t mean anything. They are just wishes. As you and I know, wishes don’t come true. They flutter and fly about but adds no meaning to ones life. Some of the wishes I receive on a day like this contradict each other. At worse, they cancel each other out so I end up with no wishes at all.
#6. People get too nice with you that it becomes unsettling
You get to sleep a normal person that nobody might care to even check up on. You wake up on your birthday and suddenly, everybody around is being nice to you. People call your phone and they are all smiles and are with happy tidings. People with the worst of voice all of a sudden grows the belief that they too can sing—they end up singing off-tune anyway. Then you ask yourself; where did the world go?
You become confused. Sometimes you don’t even know how to respond to these glorious wishes. You end up giving these fake smiles that make you look like a zombie. You wish you could disappear and return when this is over. It’s very unsettling. Sometimes embarrassing. Why should people wait till a certain day to be this nice? A day that happened by accident. You didn’t choose.
And then there is this thing that I love anytime it’s my birthday. Thanks heaven I have something to love out of all these wishes pornography. I wouldn’t love to skip this day on the calendar even if I had the power to. I love my birth date because of my mum.
When she calls me in the morning of my birthday, she says so little but too many. Her words are too flat yet very inflated. She talks in a very soft voice but it sounds like thunder in my ears. She says happy birthday to me and I immediately feel the essence. She was there.
On the 13th December, 1984 she was that woman in labour. She was the one being shouted on to push. She was the one in pain as I made my first journey into this place called earth. Behind her happy birthday wish, I know there’s this reverie of the pains that day. But she looks at me and thinks; “It was worth it after all.” The pain brought a boy who’s now a beautiful man.
When she says to me; “happy birthday” it’s something she says to herself, actually. She’s happy for my birth regardless of who I’ve become. The only wish that matters is her happy birth day to me.