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I don’t know why this birthday was fraught with conflicting emotions. It is not a landmark birthday: it is not particularly significant in any way. One of the many I have had before and hope to have many more.
The spectrum of emotions started the day before my actual birthday. Since early evening people started getting in touch with me so as to be the “first” to wish me happy. It was very touching, and, of course, each one was the “first”.
The previous week my Monday Ladies group of friends wanted to celebrate my birthday with a potluck Iftar – as we are in Ramadan and most of them are fasting – to be held at the house of a neighbour. That week was so hot, it was one of the worst this summer. I could not accept that, so I changed it to an Iftar at my place, no potluck, I would take care of everything. It was a struggle. Their resistance was great. But I really could not accept. They wanted to help me celebrate my birthday, so how could I stand by and let each and every one of them go through cooking something in this horrendous heat while fasting, just to celebrate my birthday? It was a struggle, but I finally prevailed.

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One of my dear school friends called to wish me well and miracle of miracles I convinced her to come to the party, and more, to stay overnight. That put me in seventh heaven.
The day arrived with a torrent of messages from all over the world, but especially from my Facebook friends. I was truly overwhelmed, and they still kept coming. There were messages of such poignant feelings they made me tear up, others so kind and thoughtful, depicting either dogs or cats, showing me that people understood my love for these fur babies. All of them without exception were thoughtful with only one thing in mind, to show me that they care enough to send me good wishes.
My friend finally came and we spent a few hours reminiscing about the past, our parents, our school days, college and after. There were good times and there were bad times, we laughed and we teared up, but it was a generally cathartic day.

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Just before sundown my guests started arriving. By Iftar time the party was in full swing. The heat of the day had abated slightly but not enough to make it comfortable. Despite that we had our meal in the open air and the lit garden looked gorgeous.

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Having my friends with me was a joy, for they are my neighbours and the nearest thing to a family where I live. Most of my family live far, so this was my nearby family. The evening was a great success by any measure and by the time my friend and I turned in I was drained physically but emotionally euphoric.
The night did not pass without incident. A couple of the cats got themselves locked in my friend’s room and I heard them scratching so I discreetly opened the door and they shot out.
The day after my birthday I found messages of good wishes still coming in. I was really and truly overwhelmed by all this kindness.
My friend and I decided to take a dip in the pool so I asked the gardeners to round up the dogs so we can swim in peace.

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While in the pool one dog got away. At first I thought it was Troy and started petting him and trying to stop him from jumping in, but he did not try and kept barking trying to get me out of the pool. It was then that I realised it was Prince not Troy! He has filled in so well, I could not believe my eyes, and he was in a frenzy of worry about me being in the pool. Then suddenly there were Helen and Troy, gallivanting all over the garden and when they saw us in the pool they both flung themselves in! From then on it was a struggle of survival. These are huge, strong dogs that loved playing in the water and remembered from their youth that they used to climb on my back and I would swim with them. Of course they tried it again and I now have the scratches to prove it. Add to that the frenzy of Prince trying to get us all out of the water and two gardeners trying to round up all the dogs that got loose! Pandemonium reigned for nearly five minutes until finally the dogs were caught and locked up in their pen again. My friend and I survived .. barely. But to tell you the truth I had missed my dogs. It was good to see them up close and personal, especially Prince.
After our adventurous swim and shower, and after my friend’s husband arrived, we had a very lovely lunch of yesterday’s leftovers, right there in the kitchen. A lunch full of warmth with family. It was the perfect ending to a couple of very emotional days.
15 June 2016

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