We sang the ‘happy birthday’ song in unison. My heart filled with emotion as I looked at my little ones’ faces bursting with excitement. I looked around silently muttering a prayer of thanksgiving to God as I saw them surrounded by family and friends. These were people who matter to them, people who have helped me babysit, seen us through thick and thin. Indeed, motherhood is a gift straight from the divine. I watched as my children blew out the candles amidst claps and cheers from people around them. The others silently wishing that it was their special day, that they were the centre of attention. Children have a subtle way of reminding others that it’s their big day. The one day when they can get away with anything. And sometimes as parents we let them be; after all it’s just the one day before the other one comes along. The children could not wait to have their pieces of cake before they scattered off and resumed playing, jumping on the bouncy castles and trampolines, driving go –Karts in the popular indoor activity centre.
With each passing birthday of my children, I realise how fleeting time is, with the force of adulthood continually tagging at me. With each passing year I realise I’m not ready for a new definition, a new growth. You see, time just happens and you look back and it suddenly dawns on you that you have not done half the things you’d wished to have achieved by then. So I decide to make new resolutions, fresh ambitions and desires and hope that somehow this time they shall come to fruition. In this instance I shall push them to that little corner of my mind, that safe place that we all and vow to attend to them. Now…for now, let me share in their delight. Birthday parties are such a craze nowadays. Mine were spent (if we ever remembered) going down to the market. Market days were held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Its where everything happened, like a carnival of sorts. It was the hub of the village and I loved going there. The walk was long but worth it. It was not often we were allowed there but on special occasions such as this, that was overlooked. This would be spent with my siblings and friends. We would set off early just so we could make the most of the day. It was my 10th birthday and I had planned to go to the market that Saturday. What a beautiful morning it was, one of those days one takes their time to appreciate the beauty of nature. Dawn had just broken, the sun slowly creeping in. Its lingering rays barely peering through the horizon, as its shadows cast a crimson backdrop. It was a picturesque view, like something straight from a postcard. It was truly a sight to behold, coupled by the appearance of the morning dew. The small drops hanging on to the ends of the leaves and grass, oozing such purity and delicacy. The dew on the cobweb made a beautiful pattern, clearly showing off the spider’s expertise and attention to detail. Oh, how I loved the feeling of dew on my bare feet.
We soon got to the market. It had just gone 7 a.m but it was abuzz with activities. The smell of herbs and spices filled the air, they were so carefully arranged showing off their vibrant colours. Each stall stacked with something different, something interesting, with vendors shouting from all corners for customers to have a look at what they have got. The little alley ways resembled a maze, each one connected to the next and before you know it, you were lost in this jungle. The salty stench of fish filled the air; we decided to go check out the stall. We loved looking at all the different types of fish, there was always a new species, one we’d never seen before. I followed on, my mind so totally engrossed that I did not hear the bicycle bell ring. When I finally did, I turned just in time to see a man barrelling towards me. I quickly darted to the side, knocking over a fruit display. They covered the ground and were quickly crushed by the hustling passersby with few given a second chance as they pushed past the distraught stand owner. The smell of citrus filled my nostrils as the man shouted at me while shaking his fist vigorously. I began to sweat, my brain telling me to take to my heels. I stepped on a loose rock, stumbling, I bumped into the man ahead of me. He turned to glare at me for a moment before making his way to the vegetables stalls. By this time my siblings and friends were literally dying of laughter. I stuck my tongue out at them as I shoved my way through a horde of people surrounding something. Curiosity got the better of me, I had to get a glimpse of whatever’s going on no matter what. I pushed my way forward and what I came face to face with was the loveliest bride, adorned in the most beautiful attire I had ever seen, she had a veil over her head. A group of women were singing and dancing around her, congratulating her as she walked along on the pieces of cloths they had placed on the ground. They continued like so for around 10 minutes before we saw the groom walking down the street towards her with a group of men singing for him too. This was the grande finale of the passage rite, meaning the bride could now officially enter the married women’s world. The bride and groom met, he unveiled her, showing off her intricate hairdo. Ululations filled the air and everyone was welcome to join in the song and dance. I did not hesitate for a minute. There was the exchange of gifts between the in-laws, emotions running high. Soon, it was food time, the best part. We ate to our fill before calling it a day.
For me, there were no cards, no cake, no fancy dress party, no presents (my kids would be horrified at the thought of that), no expenses incurred, but somehow we still had fun, entertainment and food. Truly a memorable day.