Tuesday, 1 September 2009

So Special

Birthdays are probably never more special than when one is a child, when, as kids sa, with a wonderful zeal that it's their "Happy Birthday"! Happiness is co-joined to the idea that the day is special to them, or rather that each child is special on his or her birthday. Each child becomes a small shining star around whom friends mill, loaded with presents and adults pamper with extra indulgence.

Children also add with great satisfaction, a new and full number to their age: no longer 'six-and-a-half' but seven and so on. Parents too have a special relationshp to their child's birthday--besides obvious joy. Each passing birthday brings home the realisation that they have created the gift of life together, subtly enhancing their bonding: the parents' relationship as a couple.

Of course, there are single parents, warring parents, unwanted children and the deprived, to whom each birthday maybe more a remainder of conflict than joy.

However, when I my neighbour Ashita on her son Aryaveer's birthday, an otherwise calm woman, looking harassed, I asked why. It was her son's birthday but the birthday planner had taken ill. A reception hall for the children to play in was booked. Decorations, games and entertainers were installed but the final flourish was still not in place.

This made me realize that this is truly the age of commercialisation and made me think of the phenomenon of children's birthdays as a market commodity. From on-call tattoo artists and DJs to booking pools at five star hotels for the day at nearby resorts, kiddies celebration is a big business. The high-end is often incredibly loud and vulgar and even middle and low-end parties seem to emphasise consumerist fantasies over the idea of cherishing life.

So, I thought how much more meaningful a child's birthday might be if parents decide to spend of the money on educating deprived children. But then, I'm perhaps wishing for a truly happy birthday.

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