I turned twenty eight two days ago. It seemed a good enough time as any to finally start this. It wasn’t a big birthday. I’ve only been in Vietnam for two weeks; still making friends.
Not long enough for birthdays to be a known thing and I’ve never been the ‘it’s my birthday, give me attention’ kind of a person. We’ve all met those people. They insist on counting down the days from a month away. By the time it arrives, really all you want to do is punch them in the face. We get it, it’s your birthday. Congratulations. Fuck off.
It was a busy day. Seven hours of teaching hyperactive children. The first three hours were more like crowd control in a riot than teaching. A child’s energy can be astonishing. Their ability to be complete little bastards, equally so. It was a rough start, but it settled down.
After work I went out for some drinks with friends. Eventually it came out it was my birthday. A girl asked me what presents I’d received. I thought about it for a second. I couldn’t think of a single thing. Nothing. It was strange when I said it out loud. I’m not big on birthdays but I don’t think I’ve ever not received a single present. It made me think of family and friends back home.
I got home close to midnight and stumbled around my room for a few minutes attempting to take off my clothes. Suddenly I heard a knock at the door. ‘Fucking landlord’ I slurred, probably a little too loudly. My trousers were now around my ankles. Wearily I pulled them up, struggling to not topple over. Weaving over to the door I braced myself. I opened it. Standing in front of me was a young boy holding a small bowl of bananas. My mind began to race – What the fuck is this fruit seller doing in my building at midnight? More importantly; do I want a bananas? His smile punctured my thoughts – “bananas for you” he said almost embarrassed – quickly thrusting the bowl at me before scurrying down the corridor and disappearing into one of the other apartments. A girl of perhaps five peeked out from the door; grinned, waved and slammed the door shut. I stood stunned for a few moments. What just happened? I closed the door cautiously; stepped back; tripped on my bag that was behind me and landed in a heap on the floor.
Pulling myself up I sat on the edge of my bed staring down at the bananas. My alcohol fueled mind ticked over at a ridiculously slow pace. I glanced quickly up at the clock and immediately started to laugh. It was 11.50pm. The brain slowly began to work. My only present on my birthday had just come from a young boy who I’d never met, who had no way of knowing it was my birthday and with just ten minutes to go. I was stupidly happy/drunk at that moment. Definitely one of the stranger events to happen on a birthday. When I noticed I was giggling like demented idiot I thought it best to let the beer take over and go to bed. But first – a banana. Apparently I didn’t get far. I woke in the morning with half of it smeared down my chest, the other half was a mixture of floor, pillow and bed sheets.