Birthday Gift

THE GIFT

Last week, I turned 46. Surprisingly, I do not feel an inch close to 46, fact is, I do not for once feel aged at all; except when I want to run lols

Over the years, I have come to understand the need and significance of marking my birthday no matter how little. I started with acknowledging my children’s birthdays by doing something to make them feel special and happy on that day even though I hardly succeed in doing that all the time. For the second time in my life, I had grand plans for how I would mark my 46th birthday, in an epic way, it is worth marking. I am fabulous at 46, alive, kicking, healthy and grateful. In those years, I have lost friends, family, loved ones, those I am older than and those I am younger than. I have survived things I still wonder how I survived them; why the heck wont I mark 46?

If you ever take the time to look back on your life and see how far you have come, the success you have had, the failures, the joys and sorrows, the wins, and the losses, what you survived, are surviving and still pushing through; I am sure you will agree with me that every day, not just your birthday is worth making memories of. But since we cannot afford to be making merry every day, our birthdays are enough to make merry and be thankful all over again.

Celebrating birthdays is not a part of the northern culture, many people believe it is unnecessary ‘bid’ah’ (innovation). Even though the number of people beginning to celebrate birthdays continues to increase, my decision to mark my birthday and my children’s may likely differ with that of a lot of people.

To some people, birthdays are important because it makes them feel special due to the attention, love and presents their loved ones shower on them. But for me, it is more about realizing the fact that at that exact same time many years ago, something phenomenal happened in this world. ME. Yes, I happened.

Now take a look at it this way, in developed societies where all data and information about everybody is captured in a single data base, the only information they will ask in order to identify you in the school, train station, libraries and especially in the hospital is your date of birth. I remember ten years ago in Germany, the doctor asked me even for my parent’s date of birth; an information I have no knowledge of. Moreover, all developed countries consider babies born in their lands as citizens; that’s one of the reasons why wealthy Nigerians run over themselves to give birth to their children in the US or the UK. Now consider this, if birth dates are not important, why is it one of the easiest ways to identify you from a huge data base? Why is there citizenship by birth?

So, after pondering about these factors for a long time, I decided to be celebrating mine and my loved one’s birthdays. Even if the day comes at a time, I cannot afford a present, I call them up and sing them a birthday song.

Now back to 46, none of the grand ideas about how I wanted to mark my birthday worked out. First, the day started on a rather upsetting note. I found out that the 7-year-old vulnerable child I picked up on the streets and enrolled in school have been pulled out of school by his own father.  The man was unapologetic, not remorseful and was confidently telling me that the child is too daft, does not understand book and is just wasting his time going to school. I was beyond upset, I cried internally and externally for myself, for the poor kid, and for this society.  If Nigeria were a serious society, this father ought to be punished by the law, but I know that even if I took it upon myself to seek for a reprimand and ensure the child returns to school, there is no social system to ensure that happens; and at the end of the day, I may end with more than I can chew. So, I just wiped the tears off my checks and went on with my morning walk, returned home, took a bath, and prepared for my studio photo shoot.  And despite the bad turn of the morning and my ‘lack-of-photogenic-sense’ I truly had a wonderful studio time, made friends, memories, and photos. But all the while, wishing there is something more I can do to ensure this boy gets back to school. But I also know that, in a country like Nigeria where there are no strong social systems, I have done all I could, with what I have. I have done my bit.

I had 2 gifts for my birthday, the gift of being alive, witnessing another turn of 365 days for me, and that of knowing that my little effort in community work is unappreciated by the one who should. And I am grateful for both.

Published by jiddare

Multimedia Journalist. Feminist Social Enterprenuer Anti PA Campaigner Publisher: www.sheroes.ng

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