Happy Birthday, Subho!!

For peace in the land, the sender will remain anonymous.

*****

Dear Subho,

I know how you feel about getting things, even if it is an SMS asking after your welfare, so you must be super thrilled to get this - a letter on your birthday - for your blog!! Let me begin by wishing you a very happy 20th birthday (I ex-ed out the numbers on the letter I got before showing to others, so when it was being typed up, it became XX, changed to 20 for stylistic consistency). Age is not just a number, but a many-tongued jealous lover. You learn to live with it. The creaking joints and unidentifiable, uncontrollable aches and twitches, they’ve all been worth it. You might revel in your confusion, even thrust it upon others, but you know you did right. You loved, shared, dreamt, and created what you needed to, some of it prickly, yes, but sleep well you do.

Blend Of Tea Second Anniversary Birthday Cake - Black Forest from Vacs
Nivasini and Blend Of Tea are projects of Nivedita's and mine that were set up on our respective birthdays - a week apart. This gives us good reason to celebrate, up close, loud and in public.
From that hair that won’t listen to your appendix scar that you have so many different (a new one each telling) stories about, I love every bit of you. Especially the silly emotional part of you. Do you remember how much you laughed when the cops at the protests came at you with their canes raised and then cried as the batons came down? Or how you carried the receipt for your daughter’s autopsy report till it became dust in your wallet. Or the whimpering blob of jelly you were in the labor room when your second son was born? Or how you went about encouraging prisoners when you yourself didn't know where you were headed in the hall of justice? Or the way you tear up when listening to the national anthem? You still need to learn to love though. And watch out for open sewers when walking. You enjoy rubbing people the wrong way just to make sure they are human. You set high standards for others, just so that you can take it easy, and then get mad because they don’t let you take it easy. From supporting piracy to fighting for privacy, you do what your heart tells you is correct.

What I admire most about you is how you bend over backwards for stuff that doesn’t bother anyone else. You reach out to people, checking on them, truly caring for their wellbeing, and then get offended when they finally ask – so why did you call? You stay up late to help the kids plan elaborate pranks on the neighbors. Then when they get into trouble, you leave town for the weekend. You love good conversations as long as they are about you. The only thing you love more is a monolog – by you and about you. If there is one thing that I worry about, it is that you have never felt apologetic for your values or morals. If I were you, I would have deleted my Facebook account by now.


I love how you have acquired so many fascinating dimensions over the years. A couple under the chin, a few on your sides, and the one below your manboobs. From a confident, well-read, empathetic, almost rational young man, you have grown into an impulsive, opinionated, cranky old man. That might seem like no big deal to some – almost everyone does it quite naturally, but you have turned it into an artform. And though I really don’t see any hope for the future, you've never been easy to predict.
A birthday celebration with Mihika Dasgupta
From a birthday celebration last year.  Putting these pics in this post to provide proof to counter what the author has to say about me.
You like to believe you’ve lived life on your own terms. I will not disagree. What do we know at the end of it all? A lot of it was because of your parents. Like you say to your crying kid, it happens. You made the “best” of the freedom, values and the opportunities that came your way. The fact that the universe allowed you to be reunited with them even if late in life is a blessing, but you cannot see that. I hope that you are able to have all your family with you as the years roll on. For you family is paramount, and it shows in the ways you care. I couldn’t think of any, but I will check with wifey and list out one or two later if she can think of some.

You have struggled with your lessons about a life partner. From you, I’ve learned that there is a “leap of faith” that one has to take when one gets into a committed relationship. And you’ve done that with complete honesty. But I wish you would work as hard at your relationships as you do on everything else. Your compassion seems to disappear once you step home. I know you try to be good and right, but you have a long way to go.

adarsh - my neighbor's kid

You have also worked hard to understand and cherish your body. You have balanced this with the finest abuse that one can inflict on the body and the mind. You have started making changes and that is a good thing. You take your resilience for granted, and sometimes I think you deliberately want to test how far you can push your body and mind before it breaks. Good for you, but what if you do cross the line? Do not test the body and mind’s ability to repair itself. You are happy today with the few wrinkles, the pickled face, the flab and the dark circles because you recognize how special and valuable a healthy body is. I hope you will bestow upon it the love it deserves and not just in the form of sugary drinks, bacon crisps or drugs.

You are scared, almost petrified of disease. Especially serious illnesses like common cold, flu, and sore muscles. Having been sickly and institutionalized for much of your life, you are sometimes paranoid about staying healthy. Yet, illness and healing fascinate you. Your first recreational drug use was hypertension medication because you wanted to know what it felt like to lower your blood pressure. You were twelve. You try to control this perverse desire to live out Dostoevsky’s notes from the underground by meditating and chanting. In spite of being an atheist, you still visit certain hills and study Buddhist teaching. I love that you introspect from time to time being as unbiased as possible about your own self. It helps stay.

Laying out the banner for SoCh - a Hyderabad platform for social change
Image courtesy my SoCh partner and best friend, Nivedita, whose birthday post can be found here


You have cultivated your interests. So what if your home is a mess, your balconies a breeding ground for earthworms, bees, and other insects. So what if your weekends are all about organic angadis and lectures on jazz. You’ve never hesitated in speaking your mind, but it would be good to hear about it at home too once in a while. You make for a great Dad, but only after your sons figure out the rules you play by. For kids, this can sometimes be difficult. For adults, as I have suffered and learned, it is near impossible.

Yes, you are wonderful, weird and winged. But you already know that; for all I know you will be writing a letter to yourself on your blog to celebrate your birthday!

I have learned not to make a wish, for we know so little, understand so incompletely, and desire so selfishly. Bring joy and clarity and peace to those around you. Live. Fully and without regrets.

With best wishes,

xxx

PS: Please revisit your plan to spend the last two decades of your life in utter debauchery. You haven’t asked, but I think you can cut it down by at least half; the years that is, not the debauchery.

*****

This anonymous guest post is not only being published for SEO reasons, since my ranking has been a matter of research in some circles, but also to convey how large-hearted I am. Hopefully, this letter will break any jinxes still in the works. Liked what you read? Please share with your friends and/or let me know in a comment.



7 comments:

  1. Happy (slightly belated) birthday and many happy returns of the day to you! I apologize that it is belated. Your birthday is in my Google Calendar file. However, it was not repeated. Thus, I wished you last year, but there was no notification of it this year. However, I have now rectified that.
    Do not worry about the IndiBlogger rankings. It is my impression that most rankings are based on frequency of rankings. Thus, they are skewed in favour of those who have nothing to say (i.e., those whose posts are not much more than Twitter postings).
    Moreover, the rankings are bound to go up for you. From what I have read, Google (and its rankings determinations) are now based on the idea that quality is King (or Queen), of which you excel.

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  2. Loved it Subhoji! Each and every word is written with so much thought and care. Thank you for everything you do. Wish you at least 100 years of road ahead. The metaphor "age is not just a number but a many-tongued jealous lover" will remain in my mind for long.

    Thanks for being you!

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  3. Subho, happy birthday once again. Lovely letter that achieved a wry sense of humor that mine did not. Enjoyed every bit. What did Madhavi say about it? :-)

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  4. Happy Belated Birthday... nothing should stop you from dreaming... so just keep going:)

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  5. Happy Birthday Subhorup. Loved the tongue-in-cheek humor mixed with philosophy of life. May you celebrate many more birthdays and may we keep reading more of your witty letters :)

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  6. Happy Birthday Subhorup. This was so delightful and tongue in cheek !

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  7. :D
    A fun read. :)
    Belated birthday wishes.

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