Friday, January 2, 2015

Why I'm Celebrating 1 January As My Birthday Instead of 20 August From This Year On

By Sadho Ram

I was not born on 1 January. But the day is much more important to me than my actual date of birth, which is 20 August. Please continue to read on as I explain below.

But first of all, let me take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone who has been kind enough to take note and wish me via Facebook and phone calls. It truly means the world to me!

More than a decade ago, when the world hit the New Millennium, things in my life changed. In the span of 4 years, I lost my parents (mother in 2000 and father in 2004). I wouldn't go into the details of how it happened, but just for the sake of context, theirs wasn't what you would call a 'natural death'.

But my life didn't stop. It went on, albeit a few minor hurdles. However, over the years, something kept transpiring and by the end of 2008, it became so much harder for me to carry on.

I despised the name I was given, the identity that was associated with it and all that it reminded me from my past, including the people. In other words, I didn't want to exist carrying all that further.

But I couldn't just 'un-exist' too, could I? I had a little sister to take care of, to see that regardless of what my situation is, hers is a good life.

So after much consideration and reflecting upon the possible repercussions of the decision I was going to take, I finally decided to denounce my name and the identity it carried with it and in the presence of my friend Swapnil Shahane, I named myself Sadho.

That was in 1 January 2009.

That day I not only denounced my old name, but also other societal norms like caste, religion, etc., among other things that an individual is made to carry upon being born.

People's reaction to my decision was very.. frustrating, to put it mildly.

Almost none of them took it seriously (some still don't). Everyone thought I'm just fooling around, because who really changes their name and shit, right? I kept bearing them on, while telling myself that it's alright, people don't really understand and sometime they need time. So it went on. I found a few who even though could not understand me completely, respected my decision to do so and started addressing me as Sadho.

Anyways, fast-forward to 2013, I was still struggling to get my name legally registered and get myself a government issued photo-identification under my new identity, (not to mention, and still dealing with people who refused to take my decision seriously).

But after several dozen failed attempts and reattempts, last year in December, it finally happened.

With the help of some really kind and helpful people in my life, I finally managed to get my name legally registered and got the PAN Card authority to issue me a new ID. The entire process was filled with ordeal and disappointments, and it was only made possible because of the certain few people who used their best resources to help me.

To name a few of them, Neha Vaswani, who from helping me file the papers to finally using her personal contacts got the entire process done. Anshul Tewari And Guneet Narula, who truly tried all they could do to make sure the issue is sorted out. And finally, the guy at the PAN Card office in Delhi. His name is Azam and he, even though there were some issues, made sure that my new ID is issued to me. No amount of 'thank yous' would ever convey my gratitude to these people.

All this while, I kept celebrating my birthday on 20 August, but somewhere in my mind there was always this thought that I shouldn't, not on that date at least. But I wasn't too sure of it. So I made another decision, this time to start celebrating 1 January as my birthday instead of the 20 August.

Swapnil with me. This picture is from 2011.

Because it makes more sense to celebrate and acknowledge the date (1 January) as my 'birthday' on which I denounced what I despised and everything else that used to establish my relation to the people who are responsible for making me and my sister orphans.

So once again, I'm really thankful to everyone who took note and wished me on 1 January 2015. You guys (and gals) are awesome and made my day one too! Thank you!