“How can I possibly surprise him?” It is his 21st birthday. Gadgets, gizmos, garments - all need his approval. Chocolates are fattening, birthday-cards impersonal and toys redundant. It is pointless to spend money on unwanted stuff. Also at a time when he is about to start earning, a gift seems trivial.
Scanning some of his childhood pictures and posting them on Facebook as a collage sounds like a good idea. What if my indulgent act invites some banter from his friends? Not that I was intending to post his pictures dressed as a girl. No, not even the nangu-pangu pictures. Yet any toddler picture held the potential of inviting some teasers from his peers. But what the heck! Isn’t the delete button a blessing?
I spend the day selecting old pictures and struggle with the scanner (I am terribly tech challenged) to upload some memorable ones. Each picture brings back a rush of memories - memories which glide by like monsoon clouds.
It is ironical how we want our children to grow up and when they do, we want them to turn into kids again. How we want them to conquer the world and when they go globetrotting, we wish they never left home.
The old pictures present a nostalgic texture of a lost childhood.
As a kid, his birthday countdown began a month ago. “Ma…how many days left?” Then counting on the tender fingers, he would whine, “Tsk.. tsk …I have to wait for X days and Y hours.”
The birthday celebrations were fun. There was cake to be baked, balloons to be blown and food to be cooked; it used to be a day against which I re-lived my long lost birthday parties. I had a tough time saving the cake before the formal cake cutting. “One bite please,” he would beg. I remember losing temper when I once caught him unwrapping gifts while the guests were having dinner. As I go down the memory lane, his initial birthday gifts were mostly clothes and toys. Later on the gifts included a small blue guitar, a cricket bat, Harry Potter book, , an iPod……. I think it was a Nike football on his sixteenth birthday. The last gift was a mobile phone on the eighteenth birthday.
“What do you want for your birthday?” I had asked him last year.
“I am not a baby.”
So no birthday present this year again. I did bake a cake. But that’s it. It is past ten in the morning. I peep excitedly in his room. Want to ruffle his hair. No, he doesn’t like anyone touching his hair now. As he tosses and turns, I shout ‘happy birthday’.
“Get up….people are calling to wish you. See, I baked a chocolate cake for you,” I chirp.
“Relax…ma. It’s only a birthday,” and he goes off to snooze some more.