Why do birthdays bring a wave of nostalgia?

Pondering as much as I am,
I can only rejoice in the sudden rush of emotions the memories have fetched,
leaving me nostalgic.

It’s my little sister’s birthday today
and once again I’m back to the days when I cradled her in my arms,
sang her to sleep, taught her to put pen on paper,
walked her to school, held her close when she sobbed uncontrollably.

As she grew up, I made sure she knew
what it meant when a guy said can we meet after school,
or that you ensure no one is to inch so close as to make you uncomfortable.
What it meant when you find blood spots on your clothing for the first time,
changing the sanitary pads, choosing the first bra,
wearing a skirt that is short enough to look classy and long enough to cover your body.

That you must ignore when snide remarks are made,
but also be smart enough to not take shit from others.
Don’t put up a fight unnecessarily, but stand up and fight for what’s right.

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A small girl, timid and shy, she was.
I always worried what would happen if she discovered things on her own,
if she happened to fall in situations that were beyond her control.
I was scared to let her out of my sight. Protective and paining.
I guess you do that when you love someone so much
that even a small scratch on their skin would get your heart bleeding.

But the sands of time have shifted, and today she is 20.

Celebrating her 20th birthday, I am happy to see her grown into a smart woman.
I find the kid I was so protective of, peeking at me from behind those mature laughs,
those mischievous eyes, that cute smile.

And I realise, no matter how old she grows,
she’ll always be the little girl
who stared at me for long,
from beyond the school gates,
not wanting me to let her go.

-Asha Seth