It’s the 29th April 2020 and if you had told me at the start of the year that I would be celebrating my birthday confined to my home there is no way I would have believed you. I set myself a 2020 challenge, a series of tasks to push me to balance certain aspects of my life. Out of the four separate challenges I set myself then one that I thought would be the easiest out of the bunch – to try 20 new experiences here in Manchester – well the way this lockdown is going, it could very well turn out to be the hardest! Usually on my birthday, Mo always treats me to something outdoorsy, something new and some sort of adventure.
We may not be travelling or venturing out, but that doesn’t mean this birthday was any less special.
After staying up all night, flying high after treating myself to a pre-birthday pepsi (caffeine hit me hard) it was time for our 3:30 breakfast. And if you can’t treat yourself to a biryani breakfast on your birthday then when can you eh? It was a great start to the day. Nice homemade meal from mamma, morning prayers and then finally time for bed.
It was strange waking up and thinking I wasn’t going to see anyone, apart from Mo of course. But normally we do things with family or with friends or at the very least I’d be in the office??
Not this year. Mo and I woke up, got on with sorting a few bits out during the day and then cracked open one of my birthday gifts (marvel box sets) and spent a relaxing few hours with Iron Man.
Throughout the day there were sprinkles of loveliness, something new every hour to keep me smiling, keep me happy. My beautiful neighbours Mary and Alistair stuck birthday messages on our front windows and left cards on our doorstep. My sister, G and mum dressed up as me and sent a birthday video (it was weird and sweet all in one go). I had messages dropping in from all my loved ones.
Later that day my mum, dad and sister surprised me with a present and food drop. That feeling when you are so close yet so far away – if you’re in lockdown too right now, I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. That feeling that even though you probably don’t hug and kiss each other all the time, or you don’t necessarily get close… but somehow social distancing, well for me it just makes me feel like I wish I’d taken advantage more when everything was the old-normal.
It was only brief but it was a great surprise to have them at the end of the drive and even though we regularly catch up, it felt like having them there in the flesh, all I wanted to do was offload. Offload everything and anything to keep them chatting. They also very cutely performed a very off the cuff birthday song and dance for me. Watching my family standing out in the street with everyone watching, singing and dancing just to make me happy, I had never felt so proud to be part of such craziness. I also never felt so sad that I couldn’t run over and give them all a giant hug.
I’ve been recording a Ramadan diary for BBC Radio Manchester, sending them snippets of how fasting has been going and one of the things I mentioned was how bad I felt for Mo. He had this mammoth task of trying to make this day exciting and fabulous for me, the pressure of being the only one around and having to cheer me up. To the extent he had spent the day before slaving away in the kitchen to prepare a birthday pear and almond cake especially. The perfect dessert to enjoy that evening after my mammas drive by feast.
All in all, yes it was strange, yes it’s not at all how I imagined, but apart from the fact that I miss my friends and family, it was pretty awesome.
The lockdown is putting us all through many challenges and tests… this wasn’t by any means a challenge in the grand scheme of life. And I’m just very grateful to be blessed by knowing so many incredible humans.
Stay home, stay safe everyone xxx