A Story of Birthday Bash (Meta-fiction)
By Remigius de Souza
THERE IS AN INCREASING TREND of celebrating birthdays of children at junior schools and at homes, particularly in cities. This, of course, is presently prevalent among the elite class and English-medium convents/missionary and other schools. It is almost an unavoidable ritual.
It was perhaps started at missionary schools imported from abroad or perhaps from Hollywood-Bollywood-Tellywood. It is now customary. Even it is followed for the grownups.
My parents and we the children, coming from peasant families, were spared from this custom. We never celebrated anyone’s birthday then, or none in our native village. None suffered Identity Crisis. Now it is initiated at age one year. I fail to understand its logic.
Perhaps it helps to build-up one’s image, individuality, personality, identity or ego? It may be one of the instruments to prepare a child for the forthcoming judgements and comparison in her/his every walk of life.
Perhaps it gives an opportunity for the elders for celebration in otherwise fragmented / mass society; a sense of identity. Children are fully involved in learning — reading books and writing copybooks: talk-talk, read-talk, write-talk, copy-talk, and perhaps once in while think-talk.
They are hardly exposed to learn any other life-supporting skills for self-sustenance until they are adults, or even middle aged. That’s in the elite class.
Particularly in the recent times, the birthday bash must have come handy to bribe the generation of the unwanted, those born after the world-wide family planning campaign. It perhaps also helps to cover up the guilt of adding to the world population. Is it a consolation?
It comes as an easy package to assure the children, who have lost social contact in the stress and strain of urban life. Besides they are also spared from all other possible manual work and skills as a promise of better life by their ambitious parents.
The children, as they grow up, would capitalise on their talk-talk skills acquired at the successive classrooms. More the talk-talk skills acquired at successive stages — school/college/university — better is the income? No wonder the planning, expertise and equity at social levels are in shambles, not only in India but all over the world.
We have heard, the wealthy sometimes celebrated their birthday at sixty by ‘Tula” — weighing gold or silver or eatables such as ‘Laddus’ equal of their body weight and distribute it among the well-wishers and their subjects.
Proverbially, the age sixty also marks a beginning of second childhood, or the beginning of fading ‘Buddhi’ – intellect/intelligence, or the drooping learning curve.
For centuries we have been celebrating Krishnashtami, Buddha Jayanti, Mahavir Jayanti, Isu Jayanti (Christmas) and others, Jayanti means victory day. They are the great souls. Their “Think-Act-Talk” is synchronised.
Then recently came state-sponsored birthdays: Gandhi Jayanti, Children’s Day, Teachers’ Day, and Ambedkar Jayanti etc. usually in the form of public holidays.
The role of the Government and/or Market
In our Nation, the Agency started campaigns, such as 'HUM DO, HAMARE DO' – We two, ours two. Thanks to the Managers of people's welfare could not reach the masses – royt – in our magnificent cultural diversity, as usual. The slogan failed, like our Public Distribution System (PDS) of Essential Commodities.
Omnipotent Omnipresent Market now supplies Event Managers for every occasion from birth to the final destination (undertaker!). Of course if you are ready to splurge!
Recently I saw Bollywood’s Big B's Birthday Bash on the KBC episode on a TV channel! Very sexy! Amazing feat! A trendsetter!
Who am I?
For me the birthday is very important date. Over the years I have been filling-up hundreds of form, which are mandatory, issued by several establishments.
Sometimes I have to prove even ‘who I am’ by showing an identity card with my photograph issued by another establishment. That’s in real life.
“Who am I?” has been the eternal question before man; but that’s for the philosophers to bother.
A child feels elated – a king for the day. We continue to blow up the candles ten, twenty sixty… times to be forgotten. It is a make-believe world.
Remigius de Souza
04-11-2002 (updated: 01-11-2012)
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.