Monday, June 07, 2010

Strength and 24

When I was 6 years of age, I wanted a white fairy dress. It had a huge bow on the back and lace in the front and was pristine white. It also had a netted underskirt which I was fascinated with. The dress was beautiful, and I was quite convinced that I'd look beautiful in it too.

And I was pretty sure I'd get my wish fulfilled. After all, my birthday was just around the corner. I hinted the way a six year old does, which is pretty direct.

"Mommy, I want that dress!"

My mom nodded. I smiled. Things were so easy when you were six years old.

On the day of my birthday, I eagerly waited for my parents gift. I imagined a big box wrapped with a pink bow, which I'd rip apart, only to find the dress of my dreams within. Everyone would coo and I'd flaunt it. I could hardly wait.

Before the guests were to arrive, I rushed to my mothers bedroom and stretched my hands out to receive my birthday gift. My mother asked me why I wanted it now.

"Becausseee, I want my friends to see me in it mommy!", I yelled enthusiastically.

"Well, okay. Since you insist", she said.

She handed me a big box and I was instantaneously gratified. My dress!! The box was a little bigger than expected, but that just meant my parents had gone the extra mile to do something special for me on my day. I was ecstatic.

I opened it in a hurry. With the wrapping paper off, I quickly lifted the lid of the box to find yellow and blue skates underneath. Fisher Price. I was confused.

"Where is the dress?", I asked.

My father stepped in.

"Sweetie, the dress had a rough netting. It's not good for a girl your age. Maybe when you are slightly older. Okay?", he said.

No it wasn't okay.

"But a girl in my class has the sameeeee one in pink! Her parents allowed her to! Why can't you?", I screamed.

My mother tried to embrace me, and whispered some consoling words. I didn't want to hear any of them. How could my parents be so mean? They had promised! It was my birthday!

"But you promised!! It's my birthday!! ", I started crying now.

"Sweetie..."

I didn't wait to hear the remainder of that sentence.I rushed into my room, threw myself on the bed, and cried as if my world has just ended. I felt sorry for myself and decided I would never talk to my parents again! They had just ruined my birthday party! All I wanted was a dress, and I got skates instead!

The guests started coming soon, and somehow I forgot about the dress and went to play hide and seek. After a while, my mother called me to cut the cake, and as people prodded me to make a wish, I looked up forlornly at my mother.

She sensed what I was hinting at.

"Wish for something dear", she said.

"I had. And I didn't get it!", I whispered back.

"Well, wish that one day you do get it, and wish that you have the strength to enjoy your birthday even without that gift", she suggested.

It didn't make any sense to me. Why would I wish for strength when I had been wishing for a dress instead?

But I wished for strength anyway.

Post that birthday, those skates turned out to be very special. I won my first under-8 gold in the district skating competition. I then moved on to roller skates and won many other golds too. Skating became my passion and I preferred wearing cycling shorts to dresses. And I finally gave those yellow and blue Fisher Price skates to my maids kid, who wanted to skate too.

A week back, I was shopping for my 24th birthday dress. After turning 21, it had become a ritual for me, without me even realizing it.

Nothing caught my eye, and the shopping wasn't distracting me from my funny mood. Suddenly, my birthday didn't seem exciting anymore. I was on non-speaking terms with a close friend, my closest friends weren't in town, and I had heard that the performance bonuses for this financial year were meagre. I went into a self pity mode. All I wanted was a nice birthday dress!

The 6th birthday flashed in my head. And while I held the fabric of a ridiculous looking shiny yellow dress in my hand, I wished for strength. Strength to believe that the tiff would be resolved, strength to believe that even with the distance, I'd still feel the birthday love, strength to believe my bank balance would be higher than my birthday age. And I decided I didn't need a birthday dress.

My 24th birthday turned out to be awesome. My parents gifted me with a nice cheque (Amount shall be undisclosed ;)) and a beautiful bouquet, a friend baked a cake, the non-speaking pact was off, and I got a message, two very sweet emails and a skype birthday song from the dears who weren't near. Oh, I also got a really beany bean bag, which relaxes me just fine. And a birthday song played by a friend cum upcoming mouth organ-ist. If that's a word :) And the day ended with a nice family dinner at a lavish restaurant with good food and drinks.

The day after saw a nice amount being debited to my account, much greater than my age, and extended celebrations with another home-baked cake and lots of dancing!

Looking back, all those things seem petty now. The fight ( it scares me a little now too :p), the fact that your closest friends aren't around and fretting over how much you'll be rewarded.

And I guess you just have to be reminded of what's more important once in a while, and gather the strength to enjoy it. And then, things somehow fall into place.

I'm glad my mother taught me to wish right.

And this weekend, I'll be shopping alright!