Subhadra has been working her mind to death like a dog with the bone for the last few days to determine the apt gift for her mom on her ensuing 75th birth day. She did not want it to be gaudy or rich. Neither a sari nor a jewel seemed appropriate. Her dad had passed away only a year ago and she knew her mom would have no celebration whatever. Her mom had not got over the shock and was still grieving living on past memories and refusing to move on with life.
Her husband could be of no help to her in choosing an ideal gift with his crazy idea of taking her mom out to a picturesque spot on the occasion. He presumably thought that it would be a change from the surroundings and the monotonous routine. But then he had not understood her mother’s psyche. Her mom had emphatically told him when he broached the subject that she would not like any celebration and that the day would pass off like any other day. She wanted Subhadra and her husband to respect her wishes.
As she lay in the bed thinking about the right gift keeping in mind her mom’s wishes, memories of her younger days came to her mind. Her parents were very loving to each other in their married life. Each one of them gave in to make the other happy. Her dad would stealthily wash dishes or cook an impromptu meal when her mom was away to the temple. Her mom would take delight in replenishing dad’s wardrobe with new shirts and pants without his knowledge. While they would argue in feigned anger for such acts, they were inwardly happy at the demonstration of love. Subhadra had never witnessed even a single instance of their being angry with each other while tiffs and tantrums seemed a regular feature in her life. She always believed that a happy married life is a blessing not given to all.
She dozed off to sleep only to have a wonderful dream. Her dad had come to her house alone from the evening walk and asked her to bring good tea with namkeens. It was unusual of him to come alone as her mom always accompanied him. He was in a happy frame of mind cracking jokes and laughing loudly. It was then her mom’s birth day celebrations came to her mind and sought his help to choose the gift.
“Ha-ha, you want me to tell you how I would celebrate her birthday? However, unwilling she might be, I would go for a big and private affair starting with an appointment the previous day at a local beauty salon for a facial and massage. I would then take her to a mall to get for her a new outfit of clothes, shoes and a matching hand bag. On her birth day, I would pamper her with a yummy breakfast in her bed with a bouquet of sixty roses. In the evening we would have a quiet dinner at a nice hotel along with you and your husband. What more would she need?” he laughed aloud.
“Appa, I admire you for your thoughtful plan but I wanted your suggestion about what I should gift mom on this occasion.”
” I have already thought about it. I think a beautiful and big frame with her picture along with me would be an ideal gift she would cherish. Go to the best shop and get a very good frame You can locate the picture in the bottom drawer of my study table,” he said to her great joy and relief.
It was a wonderful suggestion and even as she was thanking her dad, the dream ended abruptly. Making her sad for a while. But she was happy that her dad had solved her problem so well.
The next morning, she hurried to her parent’s house that was kept locked and rummaged the old photo albums in her father’s desk to find the latest picture of her parents that her dad had mentioned. She quietly brought it with her. She had it enlarged it to the size of the large golden frame.
On her mom’s birth day, she quietly tiptoed to her mom’s room along with her husband carrying with her the big frame with photo neatly wrapped in a sober gift wrapper. When her mom saw the gift in Subhadra’s hands she became deeply upset and said “I told you clearly that I will have no gifts or celebration and yet you choose to hurt my feelings by bringing this packet. Don’t you respect the sentiments of your mom?”
Subhadra said ”Amma,please listen, this is no ordinary gift. I am respecting the wishes of my dad to get this for you. He came in my dream and suggested that I do his bidding. Open it and see for yourself.”
When her mom opened the packet to see the picture in a wonderful frame with her sitting shyly by the side of her standing husband with his arm around her, she was thrilled beyond words. She read the verse below the picture with tears flowing on her cheeks.
“Do not worry and weep.
If I am not there...
When you wake from sleep in the early morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft, starlight at night.
Do not worry and weep.
If I am not there."