My Birthday

While I have something to write.

Lately I had been discussing on Heartbeat’s birthday. Usually we would just celebrate at my MIL together with his cousin who was born a week after him, and send something to his school. But he’s been asking for something (well, a lot of things actually) this year.

And then, someone I knew posted on FB on whether or not we should celebrate our children’s birthday.

So, I guess today I’ll write something about my birthday when I was a kid. And this is going to be a little bit personal.

When I was younger, our family had a helper. She was a Malaysian and had worked with our family even before I was born, right after she finished high school, if I calculated correctly. I grew up in a tiny town of Batu Pahat which isn’t anything big and glamorous like Kuala Lumpur. Now Batu Pahat isn’t so tiny anymore. You know that KFry in IOI that always got a loooooong line of people queueing outside to eat? Batu Pahat now got one our own, you know. We are basically at par with Selangor now. Ha ha.

Anyway, the place didn’t even have a shopping complex back then. The first shopping complex opened it’s door when I was 8, if I remember correctly. Until then, I never had McDonalds and Toys r Us existed only in TV. People go to the town, or “bandar”, my family used to call it, to shop at department stores like The Store, Parkson or Fajar. Sometimes when our helper came back from her hometown, he would buy the kacang rebus sold at the town’s bus station. I used to love them for their saltiness. I like salty taste. Anything salty can go into my good books. Which is where things like potato chips and french fries go to.

Nearby the bus station, is where the only KFC in town was located. And on one of my birthday, my helper brought me there for a treat. Just the two of us.

I remember vividly how I was in the middle of pulling at the rubber bands that tied my hair into two ponytails on my side when I arrived home from school. I wasn’t officially in school yet, my mom was a teacher so I got to tag along. Sekolah tumpang, it is called back then.

Aren’t we going? My helper had asked me?

Go where? I had thought. And oh then I remember, it was my birthday. It must be the first time I had a realization that today is my birthday!

We hopped on a bus from a nearby bus stop that brought us to the station. KFC was much different then it was now. Back then, someone will go to your table and take your order. The chickens are served on plates with cutleries on the sides. Knives and all. And there were the colorful glass ceiling that covers the lighting. Booth seating, if I remember correctly. And small playground! But the best of it I remember as a kid was the Alpha Nuggets. I didn’t get to have Alpha Nuggets at every trip to KFC, so I remember it being the best nuggets I ever had.

Heartbeat now is a completely different story. Lol.

I had many more birthdays as I grew up and I have many many fond memories of them.

One where my friends forced me up the ski lift and I was unable to ski back down. Our teacher had to pull me down slowly. It snowed as the clock hit 9.05 pm and I was convinced this is the most beautiful birthday I ever had. Although, I had wanted to strangle my friends afterwards.

The other when I had one too many sodas over buffet dinner. I ended up with a mighty painful stomachache at the end of dinner, I couldn’t even stand straight at the payment counter. And the girl had asked me if I had a good meal.

Now, I hardly celebrate my birthday. I will acknowledge that I had plus one more on my age number. My husband would ask what do I want for dinner. And if I have something that year I would like to get as present, I would tell him. And if I feel like treating my friends with cake, we would buy one for me to bring to work. As I grew older, I found out enjoy celebrating people’s birthday more than I do my own. And it’s not because I dread getting old, ok!

How much more less irrelevant though my birthday had become to me, I will still remember that day I pull the rubber band off my hair. That memory is as clear in my mind as if it’s the present itself.

And that is the kind of memory I cherished forever in my life.

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