SOCIAL SKILLS(The Birthday Stories -2)By Jaya Sudhakar & Siddhanth Palaparti

SOCIAL SKILLS(The Birthday Stories -2)By Jaya Sudhakar & Siddhanth Palaparti

Celebrating birthdays of our children not only makes their day special and lights up their lives, it also offers a lot of scope for them to bond with their friends and relatives.

Siddhanth’s birthdays have always been marked with a visit to a temple and some kind of celebration with his friends and relatives. In his early childhood days, we would have a small party at home with his friends from our building, a few of his classmates who lived nearby and his local cousins. He always looked forward to it with tremendous excitement – the cake-cutting, decorations and small games with prizes. The fun and frolic. Our building kids were very sweet and the older ones would take great care of the younger ones. These get-togethers also enabled his cousins to mingle with Siddhanth’s friends from all walks of life and this has enriched our journey in the long run. As Siddhanth grew older, we started taking him and his friends to restaurants for a treat.

Over the years there have been some memorable birthdays – the birthdays with grandparents around, or once when Siddhanth was in the 6th grade and we were going through a particularly hectic phase taking care of my ailing mother on one hand, Siddhanth having his last paper of the Unit Test on the other hand and my husband busy with an important seminar in his office – it was then that Siddhanth’s older cousin and his friend ( both regulars at the yearly event) chipped in and made all the arrangements, the highlight being pizzas ordered from Dominos.

Once, during Siddhanth’s Junior College days we were travelling by flight on his birthday to join his father who was attending a conference in Goa. In that time period my husband was posted in a different city , so for Siddhanth both the travelling bit (which he loves) and being with his father on his birthday meant a lot. This trip also enabled me to take him on a sight-seeing trip the next day – just the two of us. It was a nostalgic trip as I had been posted in Goa several years ago. So besides visiting the major tourist spots,it was wonderful showing Siddhanth around my erstwhile office, hostel, home that I lived in, the market place and churches and temples of Vasco-da-Gama, reliving my memories of the town with him. I also vividly recall the two of us running into the veteran TV journalist Sreenivasan Jain in the hotel lobby and Siddhanth gave me another goosebump moment. He was walking two steps ahead of me and as soon as he encountered the senior correspondent, there was a big smile of recognition on his face. He proceeded to greet the latter in ‘Akon-style’, which was the trend among teenagers then. What was amazing was that he had recognized the journo despite having seen him several years ago on TV, there were no sightings on TV in the recent past ! From Goa we went on to meet my mother-in-law in Hyderabad who was recuperating post a major surgery.

What also remains fresh in our mind is the celebration of his milestone 25th birthday at his paternal grandmother’s home. Those were the days of the pandemic and Siddhanth was neck-deep in online classes. My husband was keen for Siddhanth to be blessed by his grandmother on his special day. He had made all the arrangements and even invited our other relatives which he had kept as a closely guarded secret from Siddhanth and me , to give us a surprise. My mother-in-law had arranged for a prayer meet and Siddhanth was delighted by all the unexpected attention. Looking back, the lovely road trip to our native place and the bonhomie at the celebrations did a world of good to us during those bleak times. This birthday of Siddhanth means a lot to us because his loving grandmother wasn’t around to see his next birthday.

More often than not our journey with our children leads us to believe that life is not about the material gains and the achievements , it has more to do with these small, beautiful moments that weave together the rich tapestry of our life.

Author Jaya Sudhakar

Jaya Sudhakar has done her Masters in Physics and was employed as an Asst.Manager in a PSU. Her son’s diagnosis urged her to seek voluntary retirement from service . She is actively involved with Forum for Autism, Nayi Disha and The Spectrum Autism. Friends,tending to plants, reading, writing, music, movies, travelling and a little bit of spirituality are her perennial energy boosters.

Typing of story in Word and Creative graphics done by CreativeSaathi Siddhanth Palaparti, Jaya’s son

Siddhanth is a budding graphic designer, coder and music lover. He has graduated in computer applications and completed several certificate courses. His work trajectory includes internships, freelancing and voluntary work for social causes. He derives immense happiness from remembering birthdays and wishing everyone for it. Swimming, travelling and playing music on the keyboard are his other passions.

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