Whenever I call or text someone to wish them on their birthday, I find myself running out of creative ways to wish them and birthday related stuff to talk about. I mean, apart from the usual ‘what are your plans for the day?’, ‘hope you have fun’, ‘where is the party?’, et al what does one ask anyway.
But I think the conversation is easier when its someone’s 18th birthday, atleast in India. There are these list of things you are legal to do – like voting, get married, donate blood, have sex, get a license. So when you wish someone, you can tell how fun life ahead is going to be with all these extra activities they can do legally.
‘You are an adult now. There are so many things you can DO now!’
But what really is Being an Adult? Obviously just arriving at 18 doesn’t make us any more adult than we were a day before. Adulthood comes with certain events in our lives that have nothing to do with birthdays.This may come to you earlier than at 18 years, or if you are lucky, much later.
Something I saw today made me realize that these events are changes that actually hurl you into adulthood and most of the time, its without your permission.
My friend of 11 years and classmate from school lost her father yesterday. Like me, she is just 20 years old and in that confused phase of life when you are done with college and have to decide where you want to take your life. But the events of the last 40 odd days when Uncle got hospitalised and admitted in the ICU and yesterday when he breathed his last, seem to have suddenly moulded her into a woman. Today, when I and a few others spent the day with her to help out with anything and just talk to her, we witnessed how boldly she was taking it in her stride. She did cry occasionally a little and may be she will cry to sleep and cry in the solitude of the bathroom, but her maturity was apparent when he held her wailing mother with a look of strength and calmness and an embrace that seemed to ward off all grief. May be it is today, more than ever before, that she would start living and feeling like a” responsible adult”. Having said that I still don’t know if that is a real defined term.
But perhaps I got a sense of it today too. Before heading to her place, I was waiting for another friend Busty below her building and saw some kids playing hopscotch. Thats when I realized how it was not very many years back that we went out to play with our friends. When there was a death, it was our parents who had to deal with it and think about what are the correct things to say. And suddenly now, we had to deal with it and think about what are the right things to say to console someone. Does one smile? When is one supposed to leave? Is there a particular colour of clothing for this occasion? Regardless of these immaterial things, what can you do to make your friend feel ok?
It is said that we should always embrace change and not resent it. But when this change is something out of your control, and something you didn’t even choose, what do you do? May be there is no choice but to accept and embrace it.
But how long is it before you are at peace with it?
It was great when as kids we could play outside till dinner time, watch cartoons, remain untainted and innocent and rarely ever wonder about worldly problems. Though adulthood might be bereft of these things, I have always liked to believe that life, even in its adult version, is going to be awesome despite its ups and downs. But I just wish the transition was smooth for us all.