Lalitha 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 60th 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 six months earlier and her mom would desire no celebration what so ever.
Her parents were very loving and caring to each other in their married life that spanned forty years. Each one of them gave in to make the other happy.Lalitha has never witnessed even a single instance of their being angry with each other while tiffs seemed a matter of daily occurrence in her life. Her mom had not got over the shock and was living in her past memories refusing to move on with life. Her husband could be of no help 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. But then he had not understood his mother-in-law well. Her mom had emphatically told everyone that she would not like any celebration and that the day would pass off like any other day. She wanted her children to respect her wishes.
As she was thinking about her parents while in bed, 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 making jokes and laughing loudly. It was then her mom’s birth day celebrations came up. He said he wished to make it a big and private affair starting with an appointment the previous day at a local beauty salon for a facial and massage. He would then take her to get for her a new outfit of clothes, shoes and a matching hand bag .On her birth day, he would pamper her with a breakfast in her bed with a bouquet of sixty roses. In the evening they would have a quiet dinner at a nice hotel along with the children. She praised him for his thoughtful plans and wanted what should be her present to her mom. He said ”I have already thought about it. I think a beautiful and big frame with her picture along with me would be the ideal gift she would cherish. Go to the best shop and get it. I can provide you with the picture.” The idea seemed very good and even as she was thanking him the dream ended abruptly. But she was happy that her dad had solved her problem so well.
During one of her visits to her mom’s place she rummaged the old photo albums and found 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 frame. On her mom’s birth day, she took the frame with her neatly covered in a sober gift wrapper. When Lalitha handed over the same her mom was upset and said “I told you clearly that I will have no gifts and yet you bring this packet. Don’t you respect the sentiments of your mom?”
Lalitha said ”Ma, this is no 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 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."