Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Birthday Message from the Other Side

I want to share this personal piece about an out-of-the-normal birthday treat that happened many years ago. I'd jotted down this little essay sometime ago, to capture the moment. So this week, as I head towards another Birthday, it seems like the right time to dust it out and post it here. Have you had any out-of-the-normal experiences?

I was going to be thirteen within a week, a milestone that I’d been waiting to reach. I would be a real teenager – someone more grown-up and cool than an awkward pre-teen in frilly dresses and boring moccasins. But though I was excited about becoming a teenager, my birthday thoughts were tinged with sadness.

I’d lost my grandfather a fortnight ago. He’d been fine one day and gone on the other, having died suddenly in his sleep. This was the first time I’d lost someone close and I still wasn’t able to believe that I wouldn’t be able to meet my grandfather again. I remembered him as a quiet person, who showed his affection for his grandchildren in small, quiet ways. He wasn’t one to hug or tell stories, but he made sure that he had little surprises for us every time we visited him. Packets of brightly-colored candy that we absolutely loved tucking into, bars of creamy chocolate and beautiful birthday cards every year were his ways of showing that he cared. 

It was the beautiful birthday cards from him that I would miss terribly as I turned into a teen. These cards were special, with cute illustrations of cuddly animals or happy children and perky messages of celebration. I collected greeting cards, like some kids collected baseball cards, stamps or marbles. I kept each one of the cards that family or friends had given me, carefully in a drawer attached to my study table, taking them out every now and then to revel in the pretty pictures.

So, that year, when I thought of my fast-approaching birthday, I thought of the cards – a token of love that wouldn’t come from my grandfather. Maybe I could just look at the one that he’d sent me on my last birthday, I thought, pulling out the drawer and rummaging within the stack of old cards. There they were, each one of the cards that my cousins and friends had sent me in the past year, but my grandfather’s card wasn’t anywhere in the packet. 

I looked all over again, carefully examining each card because I was so sure that I’d put it with the rest of the greeting cards. I searched my entire room, looking through my cupboards and shelves. I even got my mother to help me and scoured every nook and cranny in the house.

I just couldn’t believe that I had lost the card! In fact, it seemed impossible because the last time I checked a month ago, it was right there nestled in my drawer, with the rest of the cards. I was disheartened – I’d lost the last thing that he’d sent me.

The days rolled by and soon it was March 30, my 13th birthday. It was a bright morning, with the sunshine pouring molten gold through my bedroom window. My parents wished me Happy Birthday with an array of gifts and a special breakfast and then, it was time get ready for school. As I packed my books, I opened the drawer of my study table to pick out some pens. There, right on top of the packet of old cards, was the birthday card that my grandfather had sent me last year - the same card that I had hunted high and low for, a week ago!

With its cheerful picture of a small boy on skates, holding out a bunch of pretty pink lilies, the card beamed out its birthday message to me. I knew for sure that it hadn’t been there yesterday, when I’d opened the drawer to pull out some notebooks. It hadn’t been there a week ago either because I had been meticulous about searching everywhere. And it could only be one thing – a message from my grandfather. He had never failed to send me a birthday message before and he wasn’t going to miss now.

I was even more sure of this when I walked out of the door for school, past our garden and saw that the only lily bush there that hadn’t bloomed this season, was now covered with pink lilies!

P.S. My Birthday Giveaway is on this entire week. To participate, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post or any of the others that go live on my blog this week. The winner will receive my favorite book 'Me before You' by Jojo Moyes. Here's more about it.

photo credit: vintage cuteness


  1. Same pinch. I used to collect cards too and was a prolific letter writer and greeting- card sender. Not anymore. It's sad. I tried writing in my diary a few days back and my hand started hurting. So shameful. Loved your story. It's very heart-warming.

  2. Pallavi - thanks. Would you like to start a letter-writing group + a journalling prompt circle?


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