When I am sharing my reminiscences, logically I could (not should) start from my birth. But I don't remember anything about my birth (as everyone else doesn't!). Still, there are a few things relating to my birth which I have heard from my mother and others. I will prefer to write about them later.
So, if I am not going to start with my birth, I can start with my birthday. Don't worry. I am not going to describe how grandly my birthday was celebrated. I have never celebrated my birthday. In fact, till I got married, neither me nor my parents even remembered my birthday. I think this was the experience for many people of my age group.
After my marriage, my wife began the practice of greeting me on my birthday (and I reciprocated her gesture - had to! I also had to ensure that I won't forget her birthday - not an easy task in the pre-facebook days!)). After a few years, my children also began to greet me. After my children grew up and began to earn, they bought me gifts and took me and my wife out for dinner. However, after a couple of years, in deference to my preference of not celebrating my birthday, they have gone back to the practice of just greeting me.
Yet, two of my birthdays were celebrated and celebrated grandly - my first birthday and my sixtieth birthday. My first birthday should have been celebrated grandly in the traditional way with the performance of 'Ayush Homam' (a fire ritual performed invoking the blessings of he gods for a long life to the child), in keeping with the custom those days. Obviously, I don't remember my first year birthday celebrations. I don't remember my parents telling me about it either. But knowing my parents, I am sure they would have celebrated my first birth day by following the traditional practice. (It is too late to get this confirmed by either of my parents!)
My sixtieth birthday was celebrated by my son and my daughter following the traditional practice of performing the 'Shashti abta poorthy'. I did receive valuable gifts on that occasion from my relatives and friends who had graced the function by their presence but I am not talking about any of those gifts here.
I received an unusual gift for my last birthday that occurred in 2016. It was unusual, different and highly valuable, albeit being intangible.
On the morning of my last birthday, when I checked my mail, I was surprised to see a mail from my son who was in another city at that time. After wishing me 'a happy birthday,' he listed out 10 admirable qualities he found in me. I found myself in cloud 9 after reading the mail. The pleasure one gets when one's good traits are praised or even mentioned by another person is something extraordinary. (Praise, even if it comes from people close to you, makes you feel proud!) More importantly, I was surprised that my son had observed many things about me right from his childhood days, saved his impressions in his mind and reproduced them on an appropriate occasion.
I wrote to him saying that this was the best birthday gift I had received. And this came from my heart. The Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar says that the best gift a son could give to his father is to make the father so proud as to wonder what he had done to deserve such a wonderful son. This feeling comes from what a son does in the outside world. But my pride came from what he did to me.
I dedicate this post to all the sons who make their parents proud.