Monisha looked at the birthday cards piled high on her writing
But had she had a special day? She sat swinging in the bright green front lawn, staring at the palm leaves bordering their neighbor's garden. The lady was moving about on her terrace, yanking crisp laundry off the clothesline. She waved out at Monisha, “Where is my birthday cake?” Stung with neighborly courtesy, the birthday girl grinned and nodded vigorously with just the right amount of saccharine cheer expected of her, “Oh I have saved some for you, coming up right-away!” she scurried into the indoors.
Barring half an hour of cake cutting with her immediate family and some fancy snacks, her day had been usual. Yes, some flowers and gifts had trundled in but she had not unwrapped anything as yet. “Change the water in the flower vases,” she instructed her attendant and walked out into the patio with a Tupperware box. The sun was an affectionate golden, tiny rainbows winking up from the dew on the lush grass. The bird houses rang with excited chirps and warmth snaked over her limbs. “Take this cake across,” she handed it over to the guard, returning quickly to her favorite wrought iron garden chaise.
There were Facebook notifications to clear, she copy pasted her gratitude to friends who had responded to the app reminders. She fought unsuccessfully the residual guilt she had felt at her anxiety over fake smiles and compulsive birthday surprises, she did not enjoy them and thankfully there were none the day before. “Am I abnormal to feel so empty about my birthday?” she asked herself silently. "I am supposed to be joyful and excited…this feels nothing like the childhood birthday mornings! Where has the magic gone?”
Monisha’s head fell back on the chaise; she gazed at the garden Buddha. There was an imperceptible half smile on the restful face. It was just clay but the particles were reaching out to her, she quietened and sat up straighter at the streaming presence. Her eyes squinted at the suddenly luminous leaves. A calmness had descended on the garden, it filtered the cacophony of life around her. She dragged deeply at the vast confidence and certainty of the presence that had spread out in ripples from the statue to as far as Monisha could see or hear or sense. Why, everything was perfect, in place and exactly as it should be! A butterfly described an arc across her eyes. She had never registered the rugged beauty of the tree trunk. There was something terribly potent and abundant in the diversity of life around her. The pigeons cooed, her pet dog sunbathed and a peacock went treading through her poinsettias. She marveled at the order and discipline and contained infinity in the air. There was no room for an iota of doubt. She felt connected, uplifted, charged. Her throat ached and hot drops stabbed her eyelids, “I am so very glad to be alive!”
“Happy birthday to me,” she sang to herself as she vended her way to the writing table inside and pulled out her leather bound diary. There was no fear; she had a task to do.
“Birthday resolutions 2017” she inscribed carefully.