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Double celebration

By Nickunj Malik - May 06,2015 - Last updated at May 06,2015

Watching pictures of the arrival of little princess of Cambridge this week, I was reminded of my own childhood. Thankfully the youngest British royal baby’s month of birth did not coincide with that of her sibling. 

When I was younger, I thought it was one of the worst things that could ever happen to me. I had to share my birth month with that of my older brother, who was born exactly nine days before my arrival. So I could not claim the month entirely as my own special one because it was also his. Special month, that is. 

It was no fair, especially since he did not care much about the matching party dresses or the doll shaped cake that was prepared. Our mother cut our clothes from the same cloth, quite literally also. If I wore a chequered frilly frock, my brother’s sailor suit was handmade in a similar print too. We looked like two frowning peas, forcibly stuck together in the same pod. 

Since throwing two birthday parties within the span of a few days was terribly expensive, my parents would combine them into one and invite our common friends. I was given the option of selecting the birthday cake while my brother got the choice of organising the party games. Therefore throughout our pre-teen years our photographs show both of us either cutting girly cakes in the shape of pink hearts, or playing a rough boyish sport-like cops and robbers.

With the passage of time our parents became wiser and decided to allow us to have individual celebratory parties, or none at all, if we so wished. But it took them a long time to reach that stage. By then we had gone our separate ways and moved to different cities for higher education. 

I thought I had seen the last of common birthday parties till I met my husband. As luck would have it, he shared not only the birth month but also the birth date with, of all people, my own mother. Only their year of birth was a little more than two decades apart. 

My mom could not stop beaming when she learned about this bit of coincidence. Her son-in-law suddenly gained in stature and could do no wrong in her eyes after that. I could forget about any support from her if we ever had an argument because she would always take his side.

On their birthday they would call each other up in the morning. 

“Birthday greetings, son,” my mother would greet. 

“Thank you Aunty, same to you,” my spouse would respond. 

If they were in the same town, they rejoiced in having a combined celebration. Quite unlike my brother and my childhood angst over a joint party, this mother and son pair-in-law would spread happiness with their shared merriment. 

When I lost my mum 12 years ago my husband felt her loss deeply too, especially around the time of their birthday. I was so cooped up in my own misery that it took me quite a while to notice this but when I did, I decided to make amends. On this weekend we were up early with the cake. 

“Happy birthday Dad,” our daughter announced. 

“Thank you little one,” my spouse answered. 

“Happy birthday Mom,” I said. 

“Many thanks, on behalf of Nani,” our daughter giggled. 

“Happy birthday Aunty,” my husband took the cue. 

“Same to you son, on behalf of Nani,” we chorused together.

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