When I was small, I had memorable birthdays. Unlike my sisters’ birthdays which always fall during school terms, mine falls on December, around the holidays. This put me at an advantage; my birthday was always celebrated; we didn’t have to postpone it or skip it entirely because we were still in school. It also made it easier for our family friends to remember it. I felt lucky. But that is not why I remember my birthdays fondly. It is not for the beautiful gifts I received or for the enormous love showered on me by my family and friends; it is for one little birthday tradition we had.
Later at night, when we couldn’t take in any more of mom’s scrumptious food, we would have a session with dad; a dance session. At the time our taste in music hadn’t been lucidly defined, so we went with dad’s choices. He listened to Madonna, Kool and the Gang, Janet Jackson, Vanilla Ice, Black Box, Fine Young Cannibals, Abba, Michael Bolton…he had a vast collection of albums, and I enjoyed listening to his song choices. He was (still is, but I’m not particularly into his current choices) crazy about music; I think that’s where my sisters and I inherited our ‘music bones’.
On my birthdays, there were these particular disco party non-stop mixes we couldn’t pass up. We had to dance to them, it didn’t matter how tired we were. If my dad forgot, we would beg him to dance with us and reluctantly, but happily he would join us on the dance floor. Mom wasn’t such a dancer, so she would just sit on a far sofa, watching us, visibly entertained.
Sometimes engrossed in the fun, we would mimic mom’s reserved dance moves-we’d seen her dancing a few times-and unable to hide the excitement she would burst into a hearty laughter. It was fun. We were dancing freestyle; if we ran out of moves, we would imitate dad’s moves, dancing to the tunes. I loved every bit of it; my sisters did too, and so did my parents.
The last time I danced with my father was during my thirteenth birthday; when I entered teenagehood.
We made wonderful memories; but that was back in the day, when dad wasn’t too caught up in his own misery; when everything didn’t seem so dark in his eyes; when he wasn’t so bitter; when his leisure activities didn’t only include drinking and listening to morose songs.
I miss those days, and it’s not the dancing I miss, it’s what those moments represented. They were happy moments.