Candle of life

I dont understand the practice of lighting a candle and blowing it out.

An early morning phone call is normally alarming. Within a few seconds from the first ring to the point of saying hello, an array of people in the ‘waiting list’ pass through the mental canvass. So, that is what happened to me last week. Fortunately, the voice at the other end did not break any unpleasant news. It was my college mate, who called me from Houston to greet me on my birthday. He is the one person, who never fails to remember me on my birthday, no matter where he will be on that day — Houston, Hong Kong or Hindupur.

 I run the risk of being called a cynic, if I say that no speciality needs to be attached to birthdays. It is like any other day. I can understand the celebration of birthdays of infants of young couples; for they want to share their joy of bringing into this world their bundle of love and would also like to exhibit the product that they have released to the crowded market place. Old and tottering politicians celebrate their birthdays, having in view their political careers. If they happen to be perched at high places, it will be an opportunity for them to collect some booties in the form of expensive birthday gifts.

The scale of birthday celebrations is in direct proportion to their hierarchy in the party or society. Matinee idols also celebrate their birthdays with pomp and pageantry to flaunt their affluence.

I may be wrong when I say that the idea of celebrating birthdays publicly is not an indigenous idea. It has come to us as a result of western influence. I do not simply understand the practice of lighting a candle and blowing it out soon after. It raises in my mind strange and weird thoughts. Does it not connote that life is after all fleeting and transitory in nature? It seems to suggest though not in so many words that the candle of life that shines and sheds light now will shed the mortal coils sooner or later. Innovation is the characteristic of the fertile human mind.

Newer and newer modes of conveying birthday greetings have been found. Telephone was and has been the most common one. Thanks to the advent of the electronic age, e-mails, SMS, and facebook have replaced the telephone.

I was amused to see a person, who was in the late evening of his life (93+) being greeted by a friend of his on his birthday, wishing him a long life. The ‘young man’ said mildly “how much longer you want me to live?” Somebody sent a birthday card to a 1-year-old, the text of which said, “wish you peace and prosperity!”

To those, who come under the distinguished category of people, euphemistically called senior citizens, every birthday is a stark reminder that they have crossed another milestone in their life’s long journey and that they are living on borrowed time. It seems to send a tacit message to him/her and to all those associated with him/her to be in readiness to face the inevitable, sooner than later.

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