"Birthday's are good for you---Statistics show that people who have the most live the longest." L. Lorenzoni
Birthdays are pretty special! They should be celebrated, it's your day, it's the day you came out into the world and said hey, this is pretty cool, I can't wait to walk, talk, lose money in the stock market, and see what life has in store for me. Hopefully, the family you chose to come into loves you enough to celebrate who you are everyday, but especially on your birthday. This year, I'm spending my birthday a world away from those that really mean something to me, and in a world where birthdays aren't on top of everyones list of celebrations. Nevertheless, I chose to have a small celebration, a few days early, with some of my PCV buddies, but it just didn't seem right in many ways to make a big deal of it---first off, I'm in Africa where people don't have much, secondly, I'm a winter baby and it's hotter than hot here—I should be waking up to making snow angels outside, and drinking hot cocoa---and lastly, 55 is a little scary---it means your going towards 60. YIKES...in dog years, I'm dead!
But this birthday is not about me, it's about a family that I call my own now. I recall a conversation with them, telling me that not one of them have ever celebrated a birthday. NEVER! Not even young Kesego---mom didn't even know when her birthday was! How can that be? How can you never have had a Birthday? Do you even know how old you are? Have you ever even wanted just one birthday wish? The questions are burning inside me, so I start taking a little survey around, and sure enough, I got similar answers, though some recall having small celebrations as a child, or for their own kids when they were young, but definitely, after a certain age, forget it! Granted, this was no huge sampling, but I do notice at school that no one ever talks of birthdays either. In fact, I told several people it was my birthday, and only one person faintly smiled about it. Gee thanks! Since I'm not gonna let go of this non-birthday thing, I emailed home for someone to send something I could easily bake and doesn't have bleeping bleep in it! Several weeks later, I received a wholesome brownie mix, and all I needed was an egg, water, and olive oil. I can handle this—what a relief! So with my egg in my side pocket, I hop on the kombie to Kanye, telling my family we're having a birthday party for everyone. This went over really well...they just stared at me and my egg! But they're troopers---I know they'll love it!
The Brownie cake was easy to make, I put the candles on, and with not too much emotion, except from moi, we all sing happy birthday in English, then in Setswana, and we blow out the candles---well, I blew out the candles---and we made a wish—well, I made a wish. They didn't quite get it even though everything was explained before hand. Sadly, they really didn't even know how to make a wish in this context, and Kesego didn't have any concept of what a wish even was, though her eyes were as big as saucers looking at the candles. So I made the wish for them---the wish of more of life's celebrations for the family and the people of Africa!
This family, who never eats sweets, devoured the delicious natural brownies, and then we all played UNO, and laughed the night away---there's nothing like a sugar rush to pump a family up! Morning came, and thinking there were some brownies left over, Dad, who rarely is emotional, said “Tshepo, where's the food?” “What food papa?” “You know, the good stuff from America.” “Ah, the brownies.” “Yeah those.” I looked around, and he was looking frantically---”Papa, I think we had a Brownie Phantom in the middle of the night.” OMG, you should have seen the look on his poor little face! You would've thought his wife died—but uh oh, I think she is going to die—I think she's the Phantom! Watch out mom---your a dead duck! Then this ever so endearing, sweet, calm man whom I've grown to love, was taken over by American Brownie Evil---he grabbed me on both arms, shaking me, “Tshepo—she couldn't have eaten those brownies, we have got to find them.” Sorry papa, they're gone,” and still holding me, he said, “What are we going to do?” “Kill her papa!” I seriously thought he was gonna cry! But instead of crying or killing, Mr. Brownie Evil starts pacing, and was in deep thought like a trial lawyer— finally, he has the million dollar solution, and intently he says, ”I know, you can get your friend to send you more---Yeah, that's what you'll do, right Tshep!” Sure enough papa! Case closed!
So there it is, a 60 something year old man, possessed by a birthday brownie. How charming, how real! See what a little dose of Americana does to people around here---it makes them crazy for more, crazy for things they don't know about or have, it makes them crazy, crazy, crazy! Now I just hope mom runs for her life when she wakes up!