I wanted to write a post today but I’ve only gotten to it now and it’s past 2 a.m. which means it’s technically tomorrow but I’m still awake so I call it today. It’s Day 1 of being 35. I’m just past the mid-way mark of The Thirty Diaries. And 35 is the next landmark age after 30, so it feels like I should make a big deal out of it.
Celebrations. I’ve decided I’m going to have them as often and as self-indulgently as possible. Really. I now see the self-defeatingness of waiting around for other people to do something nice for me. And to hell with modesty. In fact, fuck modesty, I say. Modesty doesn’t wait around to cheer you up when you’re moping indoors, watching the grey rain outside your window (it’s always depressing weather on the birthday of a July person) and reading the one gift you got. This happened to me one year and I spent it reading a book that predicted my mood accurately – Misery. Modesty doesn’t rescue you from a broken heart and the pain of knowing that they were so petty, they couldn’t even bother to wish you a happy birthday. Two different years, neither man worth it (which petty person ever is?). Modesty doesn’t act as a shield from an insecure enemy hitting out unprovoked at you, stealing your work, cheating with your boyfriend and turning your friends on you. One year only and that was enough. I went underground all these times. I hid, I cried then I wiped my tears and went out like nothing happened. Like the fact that it was my birthday didn’t matter. Like the one ritual I was allowed to have to celebrate myself was taken away and it was okay. Never again. So, I say, fuck modesty.
This year I announced it to all and sundry. This year I threw myself a party. Actually, last year as well. And this year was a different one. Now, let’s see I’ve had a different thing every one of my Thirty Diary years.
30 was Pune, a love affair with a new city, dating for the fun of it and drinking beer like it might be worth drinking it.
31 was a home get-together with two friends and one interesting stranger. We began dating three days later.
32 was the confused cocktail of marriage talks, a trip to Kolkata and a surprise party thrown by him, a guy who hated parties.
33 was lying on the sofa, unwashed, hungry, tired, depressed, watching reruns of reality TV the whole day, with the phone switched off.
34 was dancing and drinking and cake and laughter with a new circle of friends and lovers.
And this weekend, 35 was a home get-together with good friends, brunch with the family, an evening out with my writers. All of them, my people, my world. My world revolves around me and I lead how people behave towards me in here. I must celebrate me and then the world will celebrate too – me and itself.
Adi grabbed me into a bear hug the minute it struck 12. Unfortunately I was wearing a spiked headband and it cut him on the chin, just as he hugged me. But he laughed and held up a bloodied finger and said, “Now I can say, I’ve truly shed blood for you!”
I also got birthday bumped for the very first time in my life. Hmph. I knew 35 would bring a lot of new experiences. I didn’t expect the first to be quite so, umm, undignified.
Netra gifted me a pretty dress. It’s lovely, I told her, but I don’t wear backless. You should, she said, when I saw this dress, I said it’s so you! I held it up, soft fabric caressing my face and I let myself sink into my NO. Many, many years ago an insecure man told me that I was ugly, that the heat rash on my back made me unattractive. And I never wore backless after that day. I had forgotten about that memory; it had lain in a corner, missed when I swept away all the other evil nonsense that he fed me, which had limited my life. And with that, I decided to let it go.
I wore the dress on my birthday, my back open to the world, literally and metaphorically. The only thing close to bad that happened, was when I was waiting for a friend at the National College crossing in Bandra. A strange man drove up, parked next to the pavement, rolled down his window and stared at me. I stared back at him till he stopped. But a few minutes later he resumed staring. I took a picture of him (with his license plate) and tweeted it. And then I forgot about it. Later, when I checked Twitter, I found RTs and someone offering to take legal recourse against the offender. So I took that action and then it passed out of my conscious thinking, without spoiling my evening.
My friends and I ate leftover cake. We walked around Bandra in the rain, mock-debating the merits of raincoats over umbrellas. We had chai and played ‘Whose line is it anyway’. We had pizza. And nobody told me I was ugly or attacked me. Instead, I got an otherwise reticent friend telling me it was ‘delicious’. 😀 After today, I can wear my back with pride and more newly – with freedom.
The wonderful thing about celebrations of this sort are that the hangover lasts a few days. It’s carrying me wonderfully over self-defeating messages about the supposed stability and sobriety and maturity that 35 is supposed to be. I’m 35, not dead!! I’m still twinkling and sparkling with all the jokes, the affection, the unexpected wishes, the messages that people sent my way. I feel loved and inspired. What better way to start a new year?
Thirty-five, welcome in! Who’s coming with me?