Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Le Quatorze Juillet

"Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened."

Jennifer Yane

I think that birthday celebrations are essentially pointless, if you consider their essence to be the rejoicement of someone's birth - it's like saying "glad you were born" to someone every year. The point of my contention is that how can you know whether anyone's birth is a good thing before the result of that event - in this case, that person's entire life - has ended? Did Hitler's high school buddies knew what they are being glad about when they celebrated the future f├╝hrer's birth into the world? Today, you might be celebrating someone's birthday. Tomorrow, that person might blow up a school bus. Carrying this to its logical extreme, the only time we can celebrate a person's birth in good conscience is after that person's death, after we have confirmed that yes, this bloke is one of the better things to have happened to this world.

As you can probably tell, I'm not a big fan of birthdays. I have a poor head for my friends' birthdates and occasionally, I even forget mine. This year, my own birthday caught me unaware when it arrived yesterday in the shape of a phone call from India, with my girlfriend on the other side wishing me a happy 23rd birthday at the stroke of midnight. "Oh, it's my birthday already?" I answered groggily, as I was already in bed at the time. Later, the SMS'es started flowing in, including one from an old high school friend who shares my birthdate. I had to put my phone on silent just so I could get back to sleep.

I know that birthday wishes are good things to receive, and I should be grateful that people remember what happened on the 14th of July circa 20 years ago. In fact, I'm very impressed that people actually took the trouble to remember it. But that is what made it so hard for me to accept these wishes, you see. I never bothered reciprocating, and that made these wishes feel like little guilt trips.

"Where's the party?" asked a colleague of mine in class in the morning after. I told him that it's in my head, and he remarked that that's not right. Sure, I can honestly say that I'm pretty darn glad that I was born, but I simply can't be bothered to throw a party to commemorate it - not that there's anything wrong with people who think it's a good idea to do such things, of course. I just happen to have been brought up in a family who never thought much about birthdays...

... Sorry, I had to interrupt the writing of this post, which I wanted to complete yesterday night, but Shaki called and asked me to come out of my house. Luckily, I opted to put on a proper pair of pants over my boxers before I did - because what I found outside was a whole bunch of my friends and colleagues doing that "Surprise!!!" thing. They succeeded at being surprising, of course. I never expect these things, ever. I never considered myself deserving. It's like the last surprise birthday celebration sprung on me; I was sitting in front of my laptop doing stuff and not giving much of a fuck about my birthday.

Birthday 2009
L-R: Li Lian, Lai Yin, Sanjeev, Yin Yee, Kok, Smooth Lum, Shaki, Jun Han, Nana, Daveen and Raj. Nickson took the picture. And that's the way I smile, alright. I'm just not very good at it.

Guys and girls, I have a confession to make. When you asked me to make a wish before blowing out the candles, all I did was close my eyes for a few seconds, and then lied that I made a wish. It's not for the lack of trying though. I simply couldn't think of anything I'd want more than anything else at the time. At this point in my life, I can say without the slightest trace of irony that I am happy and contented, and I've been feeling that way for awhile now. I'm having a great time in med school. I have the perfect girlfriend who loves me like I'm somebody better than I am. Not at all the least, I have friends who thought it's a shame I don't care about my own birthday at all, and that my birth is something worth celebrating.

Thanks for everything :)

Then we headed out to my mom's shop for a drink, some conversation and a lot of laughter. Shaki and co tried to get me drunk off my ass for the first time in my life, but they didn't quite succeed. But still, I had so much beer in me that I went to class the next morning still high as a kite, and feeling like I was going to puke at any second.

Good times.

18 years old plus 5 years of experience,
k0k s3n w4i


- yuhhui - said...

happy belated birthday! =)

Zzzyun said... long as there are ppl who feels tat ur bday is worth celebrating, you're doing alright :)

happy belated birthday, btw! ^^

b said...

soon after he celebrated his bday with me. it was such a non event that we now consider it a non event :D

Jia Hui said...

Hope this isn't too late (though you don't value it anyway?) Happy belated birthday. Seems like you had a great one :)

k0k s3n w4i said...

yuhhui: thank you :)

Zzzyun: i worry sometimes that people might be doing it because they think i might be depressed or mopey otherwise.. thanks, btw :D

b: it was definitely an event T^T but wait, we didn't actually do any celebrating u moron >_>

Jia Hui: oh, I value my own birthday very much indeed :P thanks for ur wishes :)