I have a birthday coming up and it's a special one. 28, you see, was to have been 5 years from the time I completed my formal studies and in that time I was to have sorted out a great many things about my life or at least know where I was headed in certain matters. I was also to have accomplished quite a few entirely personal goals.
Stated like that, it sounds a shade over-ambitious. But I was fairly pragmatic when I made the list. I knew I wanted to be married by 28, hopefully a mum, and I wanted to have achieved a certain amount of independence.
I've learnt to drive and I've learnt to cook. I still do both with some hesitation but I think I can claim to be both a driver and a cook. I am learning the basics of financial management, going beyond the stage of making my salary last the month to also learning to save a little willy-nilly. Since I can be quite parsimonious, a bigger achievement would probably be my learning to spend. I can now happily claim to have learnt to splurge over a thousand on a meal, a pair of shoes, a dress -- something I would never have done before.
I have learnt to be kinder to my body. That was sorely necessary and yes, that pun was entirely intentional. The most unexpected milestone I crossed was suddenly becoming comfortable in my own skin. Admittedly I have much to be comfortable about. I am neither very thin nor very fat. I do have nice hair and my face gets me by. Nor am I unbearably hairy nor prone to much illness. On the other hand, like any self-respecting young girl I have moaned over my shape, my weight, my hair, my complexion, everything ever since I woke up to the fact that I could. Somehow though, somewhere down the line, I grew to quite like the body I live in, weak knees, stretch marks and all. It's heavier now and I no longer fit into my Uni clothes, but the little bulges around the midriff and the thicker arms seem more in keeping with the person I want to be than that skinny-minny I was used to seeing in the mirror.
I learnt to keep my hair long and I really enjoyed the fall and the weight of it. I have wanted long hair since I was a little girl. And then, quite suddenly, I found myself cutting it all off and now the memories feel like a distant, pleasant dream. Short hair feels more natural to me.
I'm learning to turn my aptitude for sewing to some purpose. That is proving to be great fun. I have accepted my lack of creativity and am mostly satisfied with the degrees of ingenuity I occasionally reach. I have many extremely creative friends, so it was not easy accepting that I would never achieve what came to them so effortlessly, but on the other hand, what I find commonplace is not easy for a lot of other people I know, so I really oughtn't complain.
I have held down a full-time, fairly conventional job for an acceptable length of time and I've freelanced, earning myself pocket money. I have learnt to value my financial independence very highly. I don't think I could live to be financially dependent ever again.
I have learned to live with both my father and my mother-in-law, and they (mostly) with me. But I better cross my fingers and touch wood when I say that!
My biggest achievement has been my relationship with Rahul rather than Vicky. Rahul and I have our good days and bad but the bond holds true for all the strain we put on it. I have grown to value it more than I used to. Having motherhood thrust upon me made me take it for granted, but these days, when I count my blessings, I include Pintsize.
I have carped my diems in so many ways that looking back on the last 18 years is mostly as pleasurable as it should be. I have travelled alone and travelled with a young kid. I have run away for secret holidays and honeymooned in Benaras. I got married in the most conventional way to a most appropriate 'boy' without compromising too badly on what I wanted out of marriage. I have learned to discuss marital troubles, rock music, dosa pindi, baby slings and PSUs with equal ease. And I can tie both a dhoti and a saree. In more ways than the one each.
I have been turning over my failures in the last few days. My friends talked sense into me when I felt the full weight of them. And yet, all my regrets fade into nothing next to my biggest one. But then I remind myself that I'm turning 28, not 78. Hopefully I can one day make amends.