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Happy Birthday to You

Sometimes realisations will come to me in a flash.  Like someone has given my brain a solid nudge, and some loose piece of knowledge will finally settle snugly into its rightful place.  This happened to me the other day when I was serving a young man.

He wanted to join the library, which was totally cool.  I love it when people join the library.  So I went through the usual spiel of asking for photo ID, proof of address, yadda yadda.  He gave me his Learners Permit.  Usually that's all you need.

Except his Learner's only had one name, printed twice, and his birthday was 01/01/1996 or something like that.  I was a little bit suspicious.  "Do you have any other ID with your name on it?" I politely enquired.  At which point he gave me a couple of other cards, all with the same information.  I couldn't really question 3 forms of ID with the same info, so I just went ahead and created his library card with the details he had provided me.

This was weeks ago now.  Weeks.  And you know what I have seen many times since?  People who have the same first and last names, and their birthdate is 01/01/(insert year here).

You idiot.  These people are from war-torn, socially and politically unstable areas.  These people have travelled by land, ocean and air to get far from where they were; to seek a new life in a place that is hopefully much safer than their country of birth.  Do you think they come to this life in lovely big hospitals with midwifes and obstetricians and waiting rooms and flowers and official documentation and government departments collecting birth data to the nth degree?  No.  Maybe they are born at the family home, maybe a refugee camp, who knows?  They are given a name (apparently the same first and last name is common in many countries), the day comes and goes and for the most part, the families and the individuals themselves only know the year of their birth, maybe the month, probably not the day.  There is no record of their birth weight, their length, their eye colour.  There are no flowers and baby cards and baby showers and jeep prams and post natal classes.  They come into life with no official recognition other than the love and care provided by their immediate family and community.

I have joined quite a few people to the library now, people with two names that are the same and the 1st January as their birthday.  Come well and be safe in Australia.  When you visit the library, I will try and make you feel as welcome and safe as I can.  I will be thinking of you on New Years Day, and sending quiet birthday wishes to you all.


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