Dear Shane

Happy birthday!

Now that you're the same age as me for the next eight months, you're allowed to become successful in life. Sorry, I'll stop with the sass and the grudge I still hold against the person who said you won't be successful if you married a girl you'd have to call "chechi". It's just that I don't know where or how to begin this letter. Life's been pretty darn overwhelming these past few months, eh?

But listen, BABE, you and I, we got this. *wink*

Thinking about your "success" in life has taken me back to 2011 when I first started talking to you. I wasn't even thinking of dating you, let alone falling in love with you. And yet, here we are.

You talked about happiness a lot at the time. Or did you? Well at least, I equated a lot of what you were saying to your quest for happiness. You were clear on a few things and overwhelmingly (for you) undecided on others. I will cherish those conversations forever because darling, look where we are.

You already knew at nineteen that you'd never go back to join the family business. That money would never make you happy.

You also knew that you'd work non-stop like your parents. That you were cut out of the same cloth as them and would throw yourself into whatever it took to survive (which in your case meant STOP FEELING SO SAD AND EMPTY!)

Remember when you thought you'd be one of those digital nomads, living in a new city every few months, writing all the code it took to explore one place before moving on to another? You thought that would make you happy. I was excited for you when you shared this plan with me. I thought it was really cool, not only that you wanted to do this but also that you could. That you were allowed to. Didn't you have to ask your parents first? I would've asked my parents first.

I didn't realise at the time that this plan didn't scare you as much as it would have done me because even as a student, you were already working. You earned your degree from your parents by working for their company day and night, you earned extra drinking money during this degree by freelancing, and you even earned minutes at a household telecommunications company so you could call me (in India) for free from the UK. You freelanced the shit out of it (and possibly even sold a portion of your soul to that start-up) to buy me an engagement ring at twenty-two, a ring you'd have to pry out of my cold, dead finger if you tried to upgrade it like you'd suggested that one time. And then you hopped on a flight and proposed to me with that very ring without ever having asked your parents if that was okay. I had to ask my parents if that was okay.

You worked relentlessly until you landed your first dream job, and then you worked some more to support me for two whole years while I tried to figure my shit out in this new country we decided to call home. And you did it without any complaints, like it was no big deal. I've had friends whose partners bitched and moaned about them still being students and thus unable to contribute to the household income even when these partners weren't the ones financially supporting them. No, I'm not praising you for not being a dick. I sure as hell was paying attention to your many rants about "not glorifying the baseline of being a reasonable human being" but I'm just saying, my journey to find myself and figure out what I wanted to do with my life would have been strewn with landmines, had you been in the majority ie. a dick 🍆 Ya gal feels like she got lucky!

And somewhere, in between doing all of those things, Shane, I think you stopped feeling sad and empty. I think you found things you were good at and kept working on them till you got really, really good. You always thought you were a jack of all trades, master of none (which possibly contributed to some of the sadness and the emptiness) but you've slowly become a master of certain things while not fully having to forgo your other capabilities.

I think "sad and empty" for you, now, is such a distant memory that you're capable of waking up in the morning and whispering "life is good" into my ears. And it shows. It shows when you walk into a room these days and it's instantly brighter for that adorable million-dollar smile. It shows when you laugh so loudly in a restaurant that chi-chi-straight-backed-stiff-upper-lipped folks at the adjoining tables actually tilt their heads ever-so-slightly in your direction to catch a glimpse of the lunatic who dares to be so happy. It shows when you walk our friends' dog and talk to her like she's a princess. It shows when you giggle as your manager tries to assure me that he has never asked you to work out of hours. It shows when you talk about work that you love, games (all 700 of them) that you've played, books that you've read, and fantastic ideas for stories you want to write someday.

Your success shows all the time now, Shane, and the people in your life, myself included, could only wish to be half as successful as you are*.

I hope that if you were to change over time, it's to become even happier and lighter than you are now (if that's even possible).

Happy 28th, you giant ball of blinding light!

With more love than these words could ever describe,

*despite having married a girl you could call "chechi"