My Royal Connection--a birthday bonanza
The other day while surfing the net to read the newspapers published abroad as part of my routine cerebral exercise, I came across the news item on the colourful celebrations of the 90th. birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. The queen, surrounded by her family members, made public appearance on the balcony of the Buckingham Palace to enjoy the spectacle of air show by the RAF and marching army band.I was a little surprised as I had perused a news item in the web version of the same newspaper on the Queen celebrating her 90th birthday in a rather muted manner a couple of months back.
After a little searching in the net, it was revealed to me that the British monarchs had been observing two birthdays since the days of King George II of the 18th century--one being celebrated on the biological, that is, actual day of birth and the second being observed officially on a Saturday in the month of June. In case of Queen Elizabeth II, her actual birthday was 21st. February, and Her Majesty's birthday was officially celebrated with a lot of fanfare on the 11th. of June. Probably the origin of such off-beat custom lies on the prospect of a availing of a fair weather in that time of the year to facilitate holding of an outdoor event immersed in grandeur befitting the honour of the British monarch. What is more, such "official" birthday of the British monarch is celebrated on different days in some Commonwealth countries too as per their respective custom and/or choice.
Now let me share with my readers( should there be any!) that I too have two birthdays to my credit to observe. The day of birth given in my school leaving certificate and in the official records at my place of work is the 1st.day of June, though my biological birthday falls on a day in fourth week of June. There is a story behind such a somewhat tricky situation.
Before proceeding further on the issue of my dual birthdays, I may aver that I have never been particularly interested in remembering my biological birthday in any conspicuous manner in my younger days. It is only later in life that people close to me started reminding me of my birthday in their own ways.I found no reason to dislike that too and started the practice of reciprocating such birthday best wishes in their respective birthdays too.Regarding my "official" date of birth, it started flashing in my mind more and more as my day of retirement from service on superannuation approached.
Now the story on how my date of birth got messed up. Getting admission in a Middle School(ClassV-ClassVII) in my place of birth, an industrial township owned by a British firm, was as easy as purchasing a cinema ticket.It was the only Bengali-medium school in that area being run under the patronage of the Company for the children of its employees. It so happened that on the appointed day, as I went over to my father's office I found him too busy to spare an hour or so needed to take me to the school located nearby. So he wrote out an application seeking my admission in the said school and requested one of his juniors to take me to my new school. The Primary School (run by the Company covering Class I-Class IV) I read in did not bother to record the dates of birth of the students at the time of admission.Education in that school was completely free and admission to Class-I was astonishingly casual. Parents of the present day toddlers would not be able to imagine such a scenario at that level prevailing there in the early Fifties in a nondescript industrial township. The school-leaving document of the Primary school in all probability might not have any recorded date of birth. Hence my father might have given the necessary information on my date of birth to the young man in his early twenties. He had joined the office as an apprentice a few months back-a fresher from a college . Walking down the road to my new school, my young escort soon became my teacher and started testing my knowledge of English and Maths.I had to fend myself against his volley of questions that reduced my joy and excitement in stepping into a new larger environment. Finally he appeared to been arrived at a decision that I was not unworthy of getting admission to Class V. But possibly in the ongoing scholastic exchanges of protracted nature, he forgot my date of birth as told by my father a little earlier. So when the Headmaster asked him about my d.o.b for noting it in school register (registration certificate of birth was not there in that part of country then), he appeared to have remotely remembered the month but not the actual day. A smart guy like him could not defer the admission process on that issue, and get back to the office to ask my father once again. So he chose the best possible option left to his wit. He got the first day of June recorded as my birthday in the school register. And a new date has been part and parcel of my life ever since that moment through the slip of one's memory. In any case in the hind sight I feel that no serious damage was caused in my professional life for this. Only I retired from service one month too early due to such shifting of my d.o.b. backward.
On the other hand there are instances how stressful it could be to settle facts on one's date of birth involving one's professional life.The long-drawn legal battle fought by Justice J.P.Mittre of Calcutta High Court in the sixties to re-fix his d.o.b. that would have extended his date of retirement, comes to my mind in this connection.It grabbed the front pages of the daily newspapers for months together.But the more recent episode of similar nature involving the serving Chief of Army Staff, Genl. V.K. Singh, assumed political dimension too as the General contested the order of the Government in the matter of his date of birth and contested such executive action in the court of law. People smelt intra-service professional discord in the matter too.
At the end of the day, the truth emerges that in the present day complex working environment, having double birthdays may not be a royal treat.