26th of April is my birthday

Other equally important incidents that have happened on April 26th

2002 – 19-year-old Robert Steinhäuser shoots and kills 17 people at his school in Erfurt, Germany.

1994 – A China Airlines Airbus A-300-600R crashes at Nagoya Airport, Japan killing 264.

1986 – In Ukraine, a nuclear reactor at the Chornobyl (Chernobyl) nuclear plant explodes, creating the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Thirty-one people are killed directly by the incident and many thousands more are exposed to significant amounts of radioactive material.

1962 – Ranger program: The Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon.

1942 – The worst-ever mining accident in history kills 1,549 miners in an explosion at the Honkeiko Colliery, Manchuria.

1933 – The Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established.

A popular (?) man who was born on this date

1894 – Rudolf Hess, Nazi official (d. 1987)

I am a surprised man today. On the way to my office, I saw no celebrations…people had not started lighting up lamps, and were not bursting crackers. Whatever has happened to the concept of celebrating birthdays of great men with fanfare? But then, nobody celebrated Jawahar Lal Nehru`s and Mahatma Gandhi`s birthdays when they were alive. I agree…some are upset with the way Gandhi`s birthday is celebrated – by closing all liquor shops. It is like a doctor cutting blood supply to rest of the body and announcing to the patient: “You are fine now; you can celebrate and have a party!”

Coming back to my birthdays…I have never known if April 26th is a good day to be born. The year I am not revealing because even today I believe I am 25. Just that very soon, I will be taking in 35+ energy tablets, which Jeetendra was promoting on TV some 12-15 years back. Would he be taking in 55+ tablets now?

My first birthday gift was a cradle – from my father`s elder brother. How much I wish it were a new one because…the one gifted to me had been passed on for generations. So much so…there was a stone carving of the man who invented fire, on the right side of the cradle. On the left side, somebody had scribbled “Haneef loves Mumtaz” with a pen knife. Don`t they do that to everything historical?

When a kid, my birthdays were celebrated with aplomb. My relatives would even get me new clothes. When in class three, I even got a red, nylon trouser as a birthday gift from one of my uncles (my mother`s brother). My other relatives say he could have stolen it from the neighbor`s terrace. My father agrees because he happened to my mother`s brother. For my part…for one whole day I walked without bending my knees because I didn`t want to spoil the crease on the trouser.

When I grew old – that is when I was 10+ – I started getting greeting cards from girls. Probably because I was turning out to be a handsome young man. There was only one small issue…they all signed it ‘from your loving sister.`

That leads us to what my sisters would give me for my birthday. The younger of the two – Sumathi, was the more creative one. She would rummage through her cupboard and pick up some old greeting card that she had got….or probably picked up from somebody else`s dustbin…and with a blue ink pen…try and cover-up the real names…and write my name…and leave it at my pillow. There would be so much ink in the greeting card that by the time I get up, I would be nauseated and would rush straight to the washroom.

Deepa – my younger sister (but elder of the two) had her own birthday plans for me. When young she was an exponent in paper-craft…which meant I would get an aero plane for my birthday. She would even write my name on it. Just that to fit my full name she had to make two aero planes, with four wings each. As she grew older, she tried her hand at better gifts like – knitting a sweater (In Madurai`s it is generally 40 degree Celsius), knitting woolen socks (somebody had forgotten to tell her than 18-year-olds don`t wear woolen socks) and presenting me a photo frame with Anil Kapoor`s picture in it. Wonder what she wanted me to do with Anil Kapoor`s pictures.

With my parents…it is a totally different story. The miser that my father was/is he would say their blessings were the best birthday gift they could give me. By the time I was 14 years old, I had learnt to say “Yeah right!” whenever he said that. Earlier, I was pretty happy with the blessings. As for my mother…she always made gajar ka halwa. How much I wish she did not see all those Hindi movies.

Now, I am married…and more surprises are in store for me.

Rekha pecked me on the cheeks in the morning and said: “Happy birthday honey!”

“Where is my gift?” I asked trying not to be too demanding.

“I am your gift. Take me.” She said.

That came as a surprise…I hadn`t prepared for that one. I needed three cups of tea before I could reply to that one, so I stayed silent. But said to myself: “But Rekha, I thought you were already taken?”

Footnote: I generally pick up Rekha on my way back from office. But today she says she has to go someplace in the evening…I hope it is not a beauty parlor. Hope it is to get a gift for me……pray for me guys.

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