It’s my birthday today and there’s a number attached to me! Forty. My neck swivels to look behind my shoulder: it’s there looming above me! My neck glides back to the front. Aah, there it is – small and squat.
Can it be? Both tall and squat at once? Is it an optical illusion? I rub my eyes, scratch my head, extend a leg and squash it. Poooof, it’s gone, like some crumbly mould.
Who says I’m forty?
My face doesn’t,
My waist doesn’t,
My heart doesn’t,
My laugh doesn’t…
My tears – why, they’re ageless!
And my hair? Hmm, my hair! My head – streaked with silver. You see people everywhere with purple and yellow and orange…does that mean anything? These days you see school kids with blazing white strands. Silver can be worn like a fashion statement…Arrival of the Princess?! I think it looks pretty cool, these glinting tendrils, moon rays on a dark night, cool touch to a scorching day. I wear the crown of grace on my head.
Besides, they didn’t arrive overnight, like my birthday has.
I go to the mirror and peer at myself. I think I’m too small to be forty. No, not the size of my body, which has been the same, more or less; add or knock off a few kilos here and there. I feel like a little girl and that’s how I’ve always felt as far as my memory goes.
What does forty mean? What am I supposed to feel today? Is there something new, something unusual about me that I’ve missed? I approach my friend and twirl about. Do you notice something different? She laughs, what’s with you today?
Is this a joke? And yet everyone around is greeting me, “Happy forty!” “Wow, forty, that’s a milestone!” “You don’t look it, are you really forty?!”
Am I really?!
Is this an illusion?
I continue to remain six and a half years old. The age I love: of curiosity, adventure, excitement, incomprehension, fear and imagination. It’s an age where you laugh and cry and love and live for no reason! A space that allows you to be a gypsy, a spy, a rogue, a cook, a maid or whatever you wish and you are gifted the siddhi of transcending time, and of being in more than two places at once!
This thing about forty is beyond my ken, so I drop it and take refuge in my beautifully satisfied state…which is beyond the reach of any number! Happy Birthday Radhika!
I bask in that immeasurably happy and numberless state.