Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Steinway Grands, so quiet and still

Love Theme (Piano) - Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack Vol 2

Ten years ago I had my first birthday where I had to celebrate it with one parent at a time.
My mother brought me to my classmate's place. She too was celebrating her birthday, except she lived in a big house with twinkling lights and both parents.
All my classmates were there and she had a big, lovely cake.

Mommy was an absolute darling. She too bought me a huge cake.
It was a 101 Dalmatian cartoon cake, with one of the puppies on the front. It was big enough to feed the forty kids, the adults and more.
The host/host's daughter had her cake brought out first of course. It wasn't as lovely as mine, I must say. Mine had a puppy on it.
Well they sang the songs, she blew out the candles and cut the cake.

Then my enormous cake was brought out and laid, in all its glory, on the table.
We stood around it and they all sang Happy Birthday.
I don't think I remembered, for that while, that it was my first birthday celebration with just one parent.
So the birthday song ended and, before I could even take a deep breath to blow out my candles, a fat girl beside me, also a classmate, promptly blew them out.
I looked up at mommy, teary eyed.
The adults thought it was funny.
"Oh isn't it funny! Aiyohh, ger ah ger, not your burfday lehh."

"Silly girl, don't cry now." Mommy told me, grabbing a lighter. "Mommy'll just relight it for you, then you can blow it out!"
She relit the candles and I distinctly remember throwing a sidelong glance at the fat girl. Lets call her A. I threw a glance at A, almost as if daring her to do it again, then I blew out my own candles.

But it was different. It's always different.
The second time round. I didn't get to properly blow out my own candles. It doesn't matter that they were relighted for me to blow out, I didn't get to blow them out the first time round.
She has her own birthday every year, her own candles to blow out, and Goddammit, both parents to stand around and smile lovingly.

So, no, I'm not over it.
We were classmates up until we were nine, and when we were thirteen, we were in the same class again. I don't hold grudges, I'm too lazy. But this was, is, one that I've never forgotten.

I don't know why I'm talking about it now. It feels very silly.
But it was something that affected me like a pms-ing bitch.

The host's domestic helps didn't think to keep the box of the cake, either.
And because they'd all dug into the first birthday cake, they hardly had space for mine.
So I couldn't bring it home, and mine was chucked.

It was nice, for a while. Because at least there was a party, although not my own.
Leaving my friend's huge house and walking out to the main road, was sort of like pulling me out of a dream. And I was suddenly very aware that the day wasn't going to last forever.

I went home to an angry father who was furious that he couldn't spend his daughter's birthday with her and he swore he'd never let my mother take me out again if she was always going to bring me back so late.
Daddy had left my birthday present on my table. And I opened it carefully. I was never one who ripped presents open. It was a music box in the shape of a grand piano. And it tinkled with Romeo & Juliet.

I thanked Daddy, said goodbye to Mommy and spent the rest of the night in my room.

It's not as far away as it sounds. A decade suddenly doesn't seem that long, and well, ten year marks bring their fair share of tears. When I was younger I went through a phase where I never cried. I just clenched my fists really hard, my nails digging into my palms until the pain numbed and left a ringing.

But I guess it's nice to learn now that I'm not too old to cry, or to hurt or to remember.

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