My birthday’s coming and I’ve made a list of gifts I want from my family and friends. It’s that time of the year when you get everything you want. So this year, for my birthday—
Let me cut the cake of injustice. Carefully take your uneven shares and swallow them. Swallow them and think of nothing else. Don’t think of the millions who have not a morsel to eat. Don’t think of all those who die with their mouths dry. Don’t. Those are just sad thoughts to be associated with birthdays.
Plan a party for me. Oh, a themed party. The theme could be inequality. We could all dance and raise our toasts to inequality. About how privileged we are to be able to do the things that seem routine to us now. A party? A new dress? New pair of heels? A new phone? Bleh. These are basic necessities after all, aren’t they? Gone are the days when food, shelter and clothes were basic amenities. But are those days gone or have we gotten out of them? Let’s think about it another day. A birthday is too cool for that.
When I sit to open my presents let there be books on violence and guides to study them. Make sure there’s a box of varied assortments of specially made chocolate—the flavor of discrimination, with nuts of poverty and a layer of indifference. But also let there be boxes of courage tied with ribbons of hope for me to open later.
Next, let’s all watch a Bollywood masala movie with a few peppy songs here and there. I wonder what they make those boring documentaries for. About the lives of people far away and their suffering that has nothing to do with us. We’re only human. Why should we empathize with another of our kind?
And after all my wishes are fulfilled, let me sleep with a smile on my face. For having celebrated the best birthday ever. Don’t let any other thought creep in. Not even about those little girls I met every week. Because no matter how much I care for them, they can never fit into my life, can they? We are just so different.
I got my identity right after I was born- a name. And they? They had to be named when they were fourteen and found on the streets.
I was named because my family wanted to name me. And they? They were named to file proper records of their existence.
My birthday is cherished. Theirs, cursed.
When it’s my birthday, I count days until it arrives. When it’s theirs, we make up random combinations of numbers. A date for them to celebrate!
When it’s my birthday, I want a perfect fairy gown. Just the right color. When it’s theirs- I tell myself at least they have clothes to cover themselves.
When it’s my birthday, I have family asking me what I want. When it’s theirs, family… family? They don’t know what that feels like. My bad.
When it’s my birthday, I distribute toffees and feel good about myself. When it’s theirs- oh-wait, they don’t even know when it is unless I make it up for them.