I woke up to the non-stop door bell. It was irritating early in the morning. I wanted to sleep a little more as it was a Sunday. I opened the door to see Sudha, the maid. She had come earlier than usual. I asked her with some irritability, “Why are you so early today? You woke me up from my sleep”. She smiled and brought her hands hidden behind her back and gave me a small bouquet of roses and said “Happy Birthday”. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity. I hugged her at the door itself to the amused smile of my neighbours taking their morning walk on the pathway.
“How do you know it is my birthday? Why did you spend your money on this when you seek loan from me every other day?” I asked her.
“How can I forget, amma.You are very special to me” she replied with a grin.
I was lost in thoughts about the good natured girl and her warm disposition. I was shaken from my reverie by her question.
“How are you celebrating today? Where are ayya, Shruthi and Rohan?” she asked
“What celebration?” I said with some frustration.”Don’t you know that my husband has gone on tour? He said he would be returning today but didn’t tell at what time.Shruthi has gone on her college excursion and has promised to be here this morning.Rohan; I hope will come during the day from hostel. Only you remember my birthday and even gift me with roses. None else do. They did not even greet me. But your gesture more than compensated for all their defaults” I said with a tinge of disappointment.
By 10 am all of them had come. Except what seemed a cursory happy birthday greeting and a tiny hug, there was no indication of any celebration or outing for lunch. They were in their rooms with husband busy on his mobile, Shruthi chatting with her friends on her lappy and Rohan in the basement presumably searching for something. It was 11.30 am and I was fed up with making a lunch at home even on my birthday. I felt shy of suggesting that we go out for eating and thought ”Don’t I for every birthday of their’s do shopping ahead getting them new dresses they would like, buy sweets, bake or order a big cake, get big costly greeting cards without their knowledge and even decorate the dining area for cutting the cake. How could they be so forgetful of all that I do? Forget the kids, what about hubby?” I was really upset and decided I would not cook come what may and at least then they would remember their lapse in not giving me one free day from kitchen.
It was 12.30 PM.They would soon come asking for lunch. In frustration I went to the fridge and got some vegetables to cut. As soon as they heard the noise, all the three trooped in. They all asked in chorus”What are you making for lunch? I hope the menu will be good. We are famished having been out of home for two days”
“I am not cooking anything special, not even the usual stuff. Am I a drudge working for the family? I will make just rice. You can eat with curd” I replied with some bitterness in my tone.
It was then the door bell rang.Shruthi ran to open and soon came with a very large bouquet, a joyous assortment of garden fresh flowers. It was accompanied with packets of chocolates I expected them to hand it over to me but they quietly kept it on the dining table.
My husband said “I am famished. How long would it take for the rice to be ready?” How insensitive this man is totally oblivious to the sentiments needed for the occasion I thought. I suppressed my anger and asked him to wait for 5 more minutes.
There was another bell from the door. I was wondering who could it be when Rohan ran. He came back to my utter surprise with two large boxes of Pizza. My husband said “I don’t want your curd rice. I would prefer pizza.Hey Shruthi, open the box and see what pizza has been ordered by whoever it is.” .When the boxes were opened all of them saw two pizzas that were hot and steaming .The Pizzas were loaded with crunchy onions, crispy capsicum, juicy tomatoes, and jalapeno with a liberal sprinkling of exotic Mexican herbs. Whoever had ordered had not forgotten the side dishes too .There were veg Mexican wraps, garlic bread sticks with two large bottles of coke. Meanwhile my hubby had quietly slipped away only to come back with a big parcel.
It then struck me there was a conspiracy of sorts. All the three took out the hidden cake, lit a candle and dragged me to the dining table. When I blew the candle they all sang happy birthday song. The bouquet was given by hubby with a flourish.Shruthi had opened the packet to display a gorgeous maroon coloured Mysore silk sari with a large zari border.
When my husband handed over the sari ceremoniously with a big bear hug, Rohan let out the secret of the evening plan of a movie and a dinner at a famous restaurent.How foolish I was to think that my dear ones would ever forget my birthday.
Sudha, who was a witness to the happenings, was quietly smiling at me.