Today is my 42nd birthday. After the last 41 birthdays, the fact that I got another year older is not very surprising anymore. Still however this birthday is a bit different than the ones before.
What is a birthday? Is it only a day to celebrate yourself? To have a party because you are happy you are on this earth? Let people congratulate you to this fact? Actually, I believe much more than it is the day that you were born, it is the day that your mother gave birth to you! It is not actually your special day, it is the day of you and your mother!
I know now, as a father, how much I am looking forward to my daughter’s birthdays. It is still three months until she will turn two years old but I am already full of anticipation, planning the day and imagining her joy. Whenever Apra’s mother and I talk about this topic, we also talk about the day when this little girl arrived on this earth. No, not even only that day, also the days before and the days after.
After more than 40 years, a mother may not think of a birthday that long in advance anymore. On the birthday itself however, I am sure that there is the memory of that morning, midday, evening or night when this man or woman, then a tiny being, saw the light of the day. The feeling how she held this little person in her arms, the emotions that she felt, the love that her heart was overflowing with.
Today is my first birthday without my mother. Last year she left so suddenly, after having celebrated my birthday, her and my father’s anniversary and Diwali with us. It was a shock, it was unexpected, too early and more than just a surprise. It was life-changing. That’s why she is still with us in everything we do and there is not a day when we don’t think of her. During food time we have said countless times that food doesn’t actually taste the way it did when her loving hand prepared it. It is the first time that I am here in India, at the Ashram, on my birthday and my mother won’t be the one preparing the birthday food for us. I don’t even feel like having a celebration today and we decided not to invite any guests.
I want to dedicate this day to Ammaji, my loving mother, the best mother on earth I could imagine. To Ammaji, who gave birth to me and my three siblings, who loved me unconditionally throughout my life with all the changes that I brought not only to my own life but also to hers. Who had to see her daughter leave this earth before her time. Who welcomed my wife like her own child and whose biggest happiness was to feed us and see us happy. Who held my own, newborn daughter in her arms, smiling with a shine in her face I had not seen for years. Yes, my birthday is also the day when this great woman became Ammaji, my mother.