The Birthday

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I stopped feeling the excitement for my birthdays after the 16th. I mean, who wants to grow up and have responsibilities and be solely accountable for their actions and have to be careful with money and have realistic goals and ambitions and all that jazz? Pfft, count me out. And so, when the morning of 25th june rolled around and I knew Mom would be awake especially for this, I put on a smile and hugged her back after she and Dad wished me a happy 18th.

What I was totally not ready for was, the entire class singing the Happy Birthday song to me just as I entered the classroom with Eliana and Hershel leading the symphony and grinning like the cheshire cat. At that moment, all I wanted to do was to crawl under a desk and hide or gladly slap those grins off. Better sense prevailed and I did neither but stood and endured it as I smiled and in what I hope is a graceful enough way, thanked everyone.

As I sat down in a huff, I realised that I'm sat next to Shaun, who, in his quiet way wished me a Happy Birthday.

"Thanks a lot", I said shortly.

"Hahaha most people would be happy with so many people wishing them well, and the attention", he said, seemingly amused by my forced reaction.

"Yeah, well, some warning would've helped and besides, I dont even know these people at all yet!". Too late to correct the whining tone. Whoops.

He, on the other hand seemed more amused and flashed that killer smile to which I couldnt help but smile back.

"So.. Ramona.. What plans for your birthday?"

"Nothing yet", I said thinking of the expressions I got as a reaction to not having any plans for my 18th. I grimaced, waiting for it.

He, instead, launched into an anecdote.

"Oh, the habit of saying 'nothing'. It drives my mother nuts when I do that. Her question "What you learnt at school?" My answer "Nothiiing". "What you ate?" "Nothiiing". What you did at the party?" "Nothiiing"."What will you do with your life?!" "Nothiiing!"", I laughed as he ended, thinking of the funny way he narrated it.

After class, as promised, they pooled in money to buy pastry to celebrate my birthday, and there was Shaun, Hershel, Eliana, Ria and Annie. To my pleasant surprise, it wasnt as bad as expected.

As we hung out together in the canteen, I learnt that Shaun too travelled in the same bus as me and Hershel too, but Eliana lived close enough to bike to school and Ria, being from India, lived with her relatives in the opposite direction from Eliana.

My heart skipped a little beat, surprising me, at the prospect of travelling home with Shaun everyday and listening to his stories and getting a glimpse of that smile.

Uh oh. Am I heading for that cliche situation, a crush all too soon on a classmate and friend of mine? Seems like it for sure.

With everything tackled with on the school front, birthday wise, I now braced myself for whatever my enthusiastic mother had planned for me. With her behaving all cryptic and giving secret smiles to my brother of 12 years of age, Ronald, I am instantly suspicious. I raise my eyebrows at them whispering and they instantly spring apart. The door bell rings at about 6:05 and the whispeing and shushing going on behind the door makes me feel like a victim of a horror movie. I almost consider not opening it. But the crack-head I am, I do anyway. "SURPRISE!!", all my old friends scream (right in my ear, I might add, as if their presence wasnt surprise enough.)

The evening turned out to be quite good and I hugged myself in anticipation of a new year

(at the very end of the day, should be noted)

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