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Something funny happened last week. I dashed off a message wishing a friend many happy returns of the day. What’s funny about wishing a friend on their birthday, you wonder. Nothing per se, unless of course it isn’t their birthday at all.

On getting my message my friend thanked me and said that his birthday was on the first of February. Reading his reply, I wanted to bop him one on his head. What did he mean ‘on the first of February’? Of course I knew his birthday was on the first of February. Wasn’t that why I was wishing him anyway? Kind man that he is, he helpfully added, ‘My birthday is not until next week.’

Eh? What, what, WHAT? Next week? Like in NEXT WEEK? How could that be, I had happened to glance at the lower right side of the screen when I opened my laptop and had seen it clearly mentioned that it was the first of February. Omg, where and when did January go, I had wondered and jumping up had grabbed my phone to dash off the wishes.

Disconcerted, I scrambled to unscramble the crossed wires in my head, for crossed they were if they thought February was here when it was still January, by going to the source of the confusion. I looked at the date displayed on the lower right of the screen of the laptop. It said (in US style) 01/28/21. Seeing it I blinked. Once, twice, thrice, then a few more times, hoping it would clear and reveal the date for what I believed it to be. Nothing changed. How had I read 01/28/21 as 01/02/21 (Indian style)? The differing styles was easy to forgive, but reading 28 as 02, not so much. If only I had noticed the 28, this wouldn’t have happened. I grit my teeth and laid the blame squarely on my astigmatism.

Having found someone to blame, I went back to my friend. You know what, I told him, I did wonder when or how January had slipped away without my being aware of it. I am glad it is still around. It IS unsettling when months slip away without bidding you a proper farewell. Also when they arrive without proper announcement, as I had assumed February had done, especially when you are committed to ramble and find yourself unprepared. Not that I am any better prepared now that I know February is well and truly here. But that’s the whole point of this month, take the plunge, write down your thoughts as they come. Stream of consciousness stuff.

As for the birthday boy, he assured me that he any day liked being wished twice rather than once. In that case, why not a third, eh? So here goes:

Happy Birthday, Friend! 🙂

© Shail Mohan 2021