It has only been a year, I know, but it feels like twenty. It feels like you haven’t been around for a long, long time. I just know that I must, call those who will come, and celebrate. Laugh, talk, fuss over my guests, have a little cake, dance a bit, give thanks. (I know, I must give thanks more often, much more often than I do now.) There is nothing fancy about aloo-gobi. But I must make it, the way you did, the way I learnt from you. It’s been a long day. They’ve all agreed to come. My namesake is going to cook too. Are you happy and smiling?
I wonder how it feels, to be 46 forever; to not age further with each passing birthday.
I know the only time I ever truly celebrated yours was the year after you died. Passed away is a mild word. There’s an even funnier term around here; do you remember? ‘Off thai gaya‘, so, are you off then, like a light switch? I wonder…
I knew perhaps, I wouldn’t celebrate you again. Not like that perhaps. I wouldn’t feel that big, huge, strong aura of love all around me, not again, not like that for sure. Twenty of us sang ‘happy birthday to you’; me and 19 strangers for you. I never even got to know whether you liked Old Monk. Mom said you were a beer guy.
It is 9 years since you’ve been gone.
I wonder if you know that I see me, standing there, in the kitchen, my house bustling, full of people, making aloo-gobi, sipping rum, preparing a table with flowers they brought, rushing out to get cake, lighting so many candles, dancing to ABBA songs, being happy, because it’s your birthday.
To me, it is still only a year that you’ve been gone.
Happy Birthday, papa!