For many others April 15 is simply Tax Day, the day a tithe goes to the Almighty Gov’t or the day the Gov’t giveth back. For me, April 15 also has the distinction of being my “un-birthday,” and every year on this day, I find myself reflecting on what might have been.
See, I was born over two full months premature, via c-section. I wanted out, low birth weight and potential health problems be damned. I was determined not to wait until April 15 to make my debut. I couldn’t stay floating safely in amniotic fluid one second longer. But what if I had? It’s a question I can’t seem to stop asking myself. What if I had gone full term? How different would I be?
It’s very likely that I wouldn’t have dermatitis, asthma, and migraines. It’s possible that I wouldn’t have vision problems. And without that bevy of health issues brought on by my early departure from the womb, it’s possible I wouldn’t have grown up quite as weak and sheltered. An underachiever in every way.
If my parents and brother had two more months to contemplate, would I have even been named “Mala?” That’s something unsettling to ponder. I know there were other possibilities being thrown about…Monica, Priya, Nupur. What would Monica be like, turning 30 today? Would she be a doctor, a lawyer, a PhD? The perfect desi Superwoman, balancing career and fiancé and cultivating that sense of ghar-sangsar? Would she be the antithesis of me, a person who has doggedly followed her own path even when it led her astray? Would she be pretty, would she be rich? As the song goes, “Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.”
I’ll never really know who I would have been. All I can do is wonder. All I can do is look at this day on the calendar, wish myself a “Happy un-birthday,” like the Mad Hatter at his tea party, and avoid looking too closely at the rabbit hole.