Yesterday, I had the best birthday of my life.
It wasn't a birthday with many presents, or an elaborate surprise. It didn't have lots and lots of people. It was simply perfect.
As twelve o'clock came, Feraz and Fahad sang Happy Birthday to me with a little bit of for she's a jolly good fellow and hip hip hooray thrown in. Before we went to sleep Feraz told me a story of a small village where my mom gave birth to me and an angel came to him in Britain when he was three and a half and told him I was born. He talked about how happy my mom was and my dad picked me up and kissed me on my forehead. Then he said that one day we will be together in heaven with our little babies. I was crying by this point and already I felt like I had the best birthday. He said that in heaven he will buy me Gucci bags and Prada shoes and we can meet all the people we loved in this life. :)
The next morning I woke up to Feraz walking in to the room holding birthday cake and singing Happy Birthday. Feraz knows exactly how I like my breakfast in bed! As I drank my Nescafe and ate my cake he began my birthday morning sound track. The first song was "Wrong" by Depeche Mode. This quickly became a dance party and we sang as loud as we dared so as not to wake up Fahad. "I was born with the wrong sign in the wrong house!" Next was "The Drugs Don't Work" by the Verve. I know these don't sound like the best birthday songs but they are my faveees and were a perfect start. After that it was "Wonderwall" by Oasis and then Bob Marley and Morrisey. Feraz had made an amazing mix for me to get ready to. While I got ready Feraz ironed my clothes and helped however he could. I left for work in the greatest mood!
After work, Feraz, Fahad and I took the ferry across the Bosporus. It was just before sunset and the sky had that magical quality it does at that time of day. In the horizon we saw the pinks and oranges and all along the coast lights were slowly appearing to welcome the night. When we arrived at the dock we found a beautiful and eerie musjid. I climbed up a narrow staircase with some broken steps to reach an empty balcony. After my prayer, I laid down and looked up at the beautiful designs in the dome of the musjid. Somehow I dozed off into such a peaceful rest and when I woke up I was afraid that Feraz and Fahad would be freaking out because they couldn't find me. I hurried down the staircase scaring the women that were praying on the lower level and found that Feraz and Fahad were still praying! I felt like I must have gone into some time warp!
As we left the musjid, there was a warm breeze that wrapped us up and we walked to the restaurant Feraz had picked out. The food was so good and the waiter and staff made the meal even better. Afterwards we walked along the coast and marveled at the power and mystery of the water. The warm breeze was still with us and I felt like I was in some kind of dream. Along the water there was a tea garden filled with people unwinding from their long days and all along the water, young couples in love were paired up. We saw three men exerting all their energy as they pulled up huge nets filled with mussels that they would sell the next day.
On the walk back to the ferry I found a small stall where dresses were hanging. Even at this late hour, it was still open and I excitedly picked out two dresses to remember this day by. By this time the night had fully descended and all around us the lights of our majestic city sparkled. Although Feraz had still planned to go up by Galata tower, I wanted the night to end just like this and perhaps for the first time in my life, I said no to dessert . But the universe was insistent that I end my day with something sweet and when we passed an ice cream stall on the way home, I couldn't resist.
I have lived twenty-six years now but yesterday I felt I belonged in this world. Thank you to all of you who have helped me make it here, who have made life so magical, the days so beautiful, my heart light and who fill me with the promise that we are working towards a better world.