I generally express through poetry. But it´s my birthday, and I am allowed to break the rules for once. Or so I believe. So I sit here to write in prose, after the longest time (not counting those reports I have made in my profesional life all this while). It´s going to be long, but I am hoping you will indulge me, just ´coz it´s my birthday.

So, I am officially into my late 30s – 36 to be precise. I don´t know what a 36 year old should think, and I think I may not be doing justice. As a kid, I would associate 36 with sombre, serious adults, who had answers to every question the world (and their kids) would have for them. And here I am at 36, an adult alright – but ask anyone who knows me, and they would laugh at ´serious´, ´sombre´ and me being put together. And if I said I knew answers to any question that even my little girl has for me, I would be fooling myself!

So what is all this about? Maybe, I am just overwhelmed. Overwhlemed from the time the first few messages started trickling in. Overwhelmed that it mattered to so many people that it was my birthday. Overwhelmed that they would care enough to actually spend time choosing their words, as they wrote their birthday messages. I feel special, thank you! I feel loved. And I feel immensely lucky.

I feel lucky for God decided to send me to the family He did. For the kind of parents I got. I was one of four daughters, growing up in what was then Bihar, now Jharkhand. While most others in the family were absolutely positive my parents needed to have a son, and worried how they would manage to marry us off, my parents were focussed on giving us a good education. They gave us the wings to fly, while keeping us grounded to our roots. The trust they placed in our abilities, and the unflinching support they provided laid the foundation to our quiet confidence and fortitude. Only in hindsight do I realize that not every child is fortunate to receive the trust, motivation and support that we received as children.

I feel lucky to have received education from the best of teachers. Some who taught me in school and college, and some who taught me in the open arena that is life. They have come in all forms and sizes – teachers, colleagues, bosses, friends, relatives, and kids! and they have all left an imprint on my mind. For these teachers did not stop at alphabets or algebra. I learnt values that have stood me in good stead. I learnt new crafts. I learnt to believe in myself. I learnt to express myself. I learnt to make and keep friends.

I feel lucky that I have so many friends – across continents, across nationalities. No, they are not the ´Facebook type´, ´have-said-hello-may-be-once´ kind of friends. I have been friends with some for more than a quarter of a century! In that time, friends cease to be just friends – they become an extension of your person. And I have known some for less than a quarter of a year. Yet, they know you and your family like their own. Thats the thing about friends – they are a blessing from even miles apart. They lend you an ear (or their eyes – in the age of whatsapp) when you need to vent, they give you ´meri ma ka nuskha´ when your child is sick, they provide moral support during that problem at the workplace; they philosophize, crack a joke, share some profanities. The laugh with you, make you cry, and then have a coffee date across timelines. In a nutshell – they care. I am lucky to have friends who are almost like siblings, and siblings who are now (after years of being tortured by this tyrant) friends!

I feel lucky that I have mostly been able to stand on my own two feet, independant and fighting. As I said, my parents didn´t teach me to grow up and wait for the prince charming (hell! I didn´t even want a prince charming)! So when love did come knocking, it came in the shape of tall, dark, and quiet! He brought along a different world – beautiful yet challenging. He was proud of the person I was, and yet living with him has made me so different from how I had first begun. We started as friends, became life partners and then parents. And the Little girl promises to be the most challenging project ever. I know I won´t be the only one working on her, but I feel lucky I got to write the first few codes.

I feel lucky because I have seen the best of so many worlds. I have tasted success and failures, seen pleasure and pain, known crazy happiness and stunned silences. I have shed tears of joy and sorrow. I have loved and been loved, hated and been rejected. I am arrogant and empathetic; solemn and frivolous; meticulous and messy. And today, I know balance. I know equanimity. I know patience. I don´t know what I want, but I know what I do not. I know the difference in what´s worth a fight and what´s not. So I choose my battles, and I choose to let go of the little skirmishes. I feel lucky to have had the life that I have – thankful for the bright and the dark. For it is the dark that makes me shine through – and I can feel the glow.

So at 36, am I what I should have been? Am I what I wanted to be? Yes. No. I don´t know. Well, I really don´t have answers to questions that come to my own mind – it´s full of too many questions to have any answers! But I am on my path of discovery. Someday, I will know. Or maybe, I will not. And life is good!!