It is 11:59 in the night and I am walking in the cold streets amidst the dim street lights in a city that feels strange to me. I am walking fast to escape the cold and to catch the flight home. Soon, I want that to happen soon. Want to go home soon, to the familiarity of it, where I feel a sense of warmth. My phone vibrates, it is my mother and I pick it up panicking, imagining all the possible negative things that could have happened at this hour. I hear her voice, along with my father’s, it is joyful and they are wishing me Happy Birthday, actually they are singing it for me. I am pleasantly surprised because I have completely forgotten that it is my birthday. They tell me that they would see me in a few hours at our home.
The call, the silence of the cold night, dimness of the orange lights, all transport me back in time. It is my third birthday and I have joined pre-school. I recollect a picture from our family album, me in a fluffy pink dress, in my mother’s arms cutting a cake surrounded by my classmates. But more than my face, I am able to recollect the expression on my parent’s faces. The bliss they feel, celebrating their child’s birthday. Both of them jovially waiting to hold me in their arms and feed me the cake.
Fast forward, I am twenty years old, in my third year of college, as always, I am celebrating with my parents and college friends. Again, they sing the birthday song, feed me, my favorite chocolate flavored cake and additionally smear it in my face. All of these moments are captured in my heart. The excitement is the same, the eagerness to ensure that their child gets the best on her birthday is the same.
Today, I am thirty years old, traveling across continents, with a successful career in hand. I meet a lot of people, every day, every hour. Some feel that they need to be connected to me, some want to be connected to me, to fulfill the practicalities. And then, there are my parents, ageing, with wrinkled hands, waiting to hug their darling child and feed her, her favorite chocolate cake on her birthday. I can’t wait to take off my fur coat and a backpack filled with burdens of the world and, wrap them in a tight hug. I want to tell them, only here, I feel that I am welcomed for what I am rather than what I could be and only here between the three of us, I don’t feel the change. Here, even with a blindfold, my heart can feel the familiar love, affection and care radiating from them.
I walk fast, with a spring in my step, to the arms of familiarity.