An ageing birthday boy…

“Ageing” indeed! Every birthday is, as an afterthought, a gentle reminder of your minuscle time on this Earth running out, sonny. But we celebrate it with the utmost vigour and love, a true tribute to the ‘human’ way of life.

This year’s birthday was almost similar to last year – spent 1200 kilometers away from home, in a place that I am learning to call my home away from home. Here, I did not expect a lot (nothing more than innumerable instances of affectionate application of force via the human agents of locomotion on you-know-where) but I did get heartfelt wishes from friends over here and at home via social media. I am touched, I really am.

But life went on as usual with meetings, classes and labs and meetings with the Dean, R&D. I did not expect too much out of the mundane for the rest of the day on this birthday but for some of my friends, who really made the day with the surprise! (and the cake, nonwithstanding its use as make-up) A special thanks to you three for making me feel so good that day! Truly, these small things are the ones that shall inevitably ‘flash upon the inward eye’ when further cycles of years have passed.

Okay, first emotional outpouring over, let’s move on to the list of ‘thank you’s I have in store!

First, for yesterday’s events!

To all those who share the same birthday, it felt great to say and hear ‘and the same goes to you’ when birthday greetings are exchanged ! (I share my birthday with some great people here – budding mathematicians, materials scientists and electronics geeks, sons of professors and a lot of Indian states!)

To the senior who wrote me the kindest lines on this day, I thank you profusely!

And to all those who made these irreplaceable decades beautiful – who were the dewdrops on the calm road – a big thank you!

To my teacher who taught me the values of kindness at that tender age,

To the daroan kaku who always sat there consoling me when my mother was late to pick me up from school

To the fol-wala who till date recognizes me as one of his most finicky customers!

To the friend with whom I played ‘pen-fighting’ (and had both our pens confiscated)

To the friend who shared the same love as I did for Enid Blyton initially and Agatha Christie later

To the elder sister of my ‘para’ whom I shall always refer to as my first friend, her Rabindrasangeet and her jokes!

To the city whose crying face, I felt, only I could see

To the God, who I both believed in and didn’t

To the Sir who taught me the importance of humour and atheism

To the streets of Mandeville Gardens for hosting hawkers everyday after school

To the people in the crowded trains who gave their seat to my mother

To the fingers that held the pen and typed on the keyboard whenever emotions needed to be outpoured

To the English teacher who loved me as a son and inculcated the values I still cherish

To the friend who stayed with me through thick and thin right from nursery to this day and always kept out the artificiality in the friendship

To the guy who found my lost fountain-pen

To all poets who wrote the most soothing of poems and the most inspiring of warsongs

To that person who first told me about the two sides of romanticism – the revolutionary side and the beautiful side of love

To the aunty who always remembers and reminds me how I returned to tell her sorry after stepping on her feet in crowded Ballygunge Place

To the bhai who can pout and smile simultaneously

To all those who vehemently oppose all my philosophy and views, yet remain steadfast friends

To the girl who writes so beautifully

To that friend (who has already been mentioned here before) who shared the same PoR as me and gave the same names to teachers…

To the teacher who found out the meaning of my name when even I didn’t know it

To all those who harped on behaviour rather than marks

To the shayar who thinks I am the only one who gets his poems and not the One they are meant for

To the creators of Pokemon and the local cable-wala – Vaiti Kaku, who I would go to with teary eyes whenever the TV didn’t work at 8 am in the morning (Pokemon time!)

To both my grandmothers whose cooking would beat the best chefs any day, but for their lack of exposure

To both my grandfathers, one of whom had moved on before I had moved in and the other had moved on before I realized who he is

To all four of my grandparents and my entire lineage, for inculcating the love of knowledge and excellence you both had in your genes and for giving me the best gift ever – life and my parents

To all those unspoken people who sacrificed the slightest bit for me

And finally to those two great people whose greatness I cannot even start comprehending – who taught me humanism and kindness, truth and justice; who showed through preaching and practice, the right way from wrong; who never EVER raised their hands on me; who let my childish beliefs in Santa Claus persist till I developed the courage to question unproved claims; who taught me to never discriminate on the basis of things only Fate has control upon; who taught me patience and tolerance; who introduced me to literature; who told me “swadeshe pujjate raja, vidyaan sarvatra pujjate” and said that the pursuit of knowledge is what we are meant for; who never ever lost his cool despite adversities; who always thought about the downtrodden in society and never had an iota of false pride; who taught me my cultures’ deep traditions yet allowed me to question retrogressive ones and allowed themselves to be taught by me; who taught me ‘an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’ before Gandhiji, no distinction of any classes before Marx and no difference between religions before any leader; who were more free with me on ALL topics under the Sun than any Indian parent can possibly think of; who told me that even when they are dead and gone, they live through me and my progeny –

To them I bow my head till it ceases to have the life force in it.

Thank you ALL for the best (and till now, only !!) 20 years of my life. Let’s continue in an increasing curve and I might end up somewhere which I see in my dreams and in my awakened state everyday, someday!

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