“It is a ceremony, the blowing of candles, the cutting of a cake – the mess of cream and sponge in your mouth. The taste is sweet and familiar, like a newly formed wish, fashioned from all the ones you’ve made before.
You don’t remember them in sequence – the things you ask for. You only recall those you wanted the most. Like the pair of neon pink roller-skates, you saw in the shop window when you were twelve. How deeply you felt their absence when you sat among the litter of torn wrapping paper and empty new possessions.
Or the year you turned sixteen, when your best friend’s mother got really sick, and all you wanted was for her to be okay again. It was the year you learned that shooting stars were either a blessing or a curse, depending on what you wanted to believe.
Then there was that year you fell in love. The one where there weren’t any candles – just you walking late at night through the city streets with your heart in pieces, wanting to give yourself to the first stranger who called you beautiful.
Since then it’s been the same every year. As soon as the first match is struck, the smell of burning takes you backwards through your memory. It stops you right at that moment on that warm, September night, as you watched the first trickle of melting wax hit the icing, and you couldn’t think of a single damn thing you wanted – because he was standing there, in the flickering light, asking you to make a wish.” – Lang Leav, Birthdays
I have been pacing around the apartment, having already had my two cups of morning coffee and i have been constantly fretting about how I would even begin this post. Starting with Lang’s poetry about “Birthdays” is a befitting tribute though, and some point of start.
As a lot of you who follow me on my socials will know that two months back, it was my birthday. I turned 24 in Paris and it was the best birthday I could have imagined or asked for. It was one day where there was unprejudiced love, laughter, heart to heart conversations, bottles of wine and 5 am versions of people. It was the best birthday.
Now, I wanted to rewind, just a bit.
I don’t like birthdays. I hate them. I love when I have to eat cake on birthdays but not mine. Why do I hate them? I have big time anxiety and issues more than Vogue regarding birthdays. I always want to be low key on celebrations and be with very selective people.
When i left the country last year, I had a very simple and quiet birthday with my family and a few friends. It was special because we knew that I won’t be there the next year.
However, I was quite excited and looking forward to turning a year older in the “City of lights”. I had this fantasy that I would get a muffin, stick a candle in it and at midnight, make a wish and eat the muffin, alone. Yes, I am kind of weird that way. I have always enjoyed being alone and honestly I make no apologies for it. I have gotten so good at being on my own that my alone feels sweeter than your solitude.
But obviously, that was not to be. I remember how we had a submission after four days of my birthday, and Reme, Nidhi and me were completely zoned out, working at our desks and I had obviously even forgotten about all the dramatic silly notions I had before.
Oh , btw, these two girls are kind of my ticket to survival and sanity in Paris. We have each others back and they are literally the best part of living in this city. I think we three are very weird and unconventional in our own ways and that kind of makes the bond so much stronger.
Moving on, they were able to pull a trick on me and surprise me with cake, candles and wine.
Yes, I screamed. Yes, it was kind of emotional. Yes, i felt ecstatic.
Then I remember we took the bottle of wine and went to the river bank and decided to cheat on assignments with conversations about love, life and choices till morning. Really wasn’t a good idea because the eve of my birthday I had a little party at home, very last minute, people came over, the usuals.
What I do remember and was probably the second best part about the birthday is when I looked around the room of my small studio apartment with at least 12 people scattered around over the music playing through the speakers, the lingering smell of wine and food in the room and the mellow conversations that people were indulging in at 3 am, I had to grudgingly admit that there were good people in the world. It wasn’t necessary that all these people are close to me or know anything about me. Most don’t. They only see what is shown, only believe what they want to.
But above all, in this moment where everyone was their real self, vulnerable and honest, where despite what equations might fall in place months from now, or differences and fights that could happen, for that one moment everything was perfect.
Maybe that is what birthdays are meant to be, maybe that is why we want to be able to celebrate them, so that out of those 364 bad days or unpredictable days you might have, someone out there gives you a whole of 24 hours and that one day that is completely yours. And you should never ever let anyone take that away from you.
Because in the past I have, I have let someone make my day theirs, even if they were doing it for me, and I hate to admit that the taste of such birthdays can linger in your mouth, like the smashing of cream and sponge that leaves a buttery taste and is so impossible to wash down.
But this birthday, even when the surprise at 12 am made me so overwhelmed because over the flickering candles and being asked to make a wish, he was standing right there asking me to do the same too, but at the same time so were Reme and Nidhi. And these two girls were actually there in person, for better or worse.
When the day got over, and the 24 hours were coming to an end, I felt safer in the knowledge that finally, turning a year older was beautiful in the most detached manner that I always wanted, where there are people and friends who are only in that moment fuelling your emotions – and that is enough, a thousand times enough.