Dec 16, 2007

The birthday wish

My contribution to Writer's Island - "This season"

"Ma, where is my blue bag?", shouted Sheela from her room. "I don't know, search in the cupboard" Rathi answered in a not-so-interested tone from the living room, watching a reality show on TV.

Sheela didn't mind her mom's unresponsive attitude. She has been used to such responses since her childhood. She has all the comforts in the world, a 15 year old teenager could ask for. A room of her own, a personal computer, the top-notch school that she goes to and all the books and gadgets every child would dream of. Although born on the New Year's eve, her birthday was never special. It was just another day but with a huge cake party with her parents' friends and colleagues. When Rathi was expecting a baby, she hoped and prayed fervently that her baby would be a boy. But to her utter disappointment, it turned out to be a girl. Who says gender discrimination prevails only in low income, illiterate families? There are many such upper middle class, well educated, discriminating "Rathi"s throughout the world.

Sheela was very well aware of her mother's coldness but what made her happy was her dad Diwakar's affection. She has been his little angel and gave her all the care and comfort she ever needed. When Sheela asked her dad that she would like to spend her birthday this year with her grandparents, he immediately obliged.

Her packing was almost done and she was eagerly waiting for her dad. It's an overnight journey to the village named Kishanpur. Vishnu, her grandpa has been waiting in the railway station for his son and granddaughter.

"I have to leave in 2 hours. I'm taking the day train back to Mumbai", Diwakar said to his mom Sharada who was expecting this reply. "You carry on. We have our little Sheela here for 2 weeks. We are going to have lots of fun together", Vishnu was expressing his joy.

"Grandpa, what are the places to see around in this village? Dad has got me a new digital camera as a birthday gift". "Lots of places, my dear. I can take you to some temples and then we can walk through our fields". Sharada, meanwhile served her a plate full of different home made sweets. Sheela could sense the happiness in her grandma's eyes. She hasn't stayed at her grandparents' house before, thanks to her mom's hatred towards her in-laws.

The first few days were spent in roaming around the village with both her grandparents by her side. "This is our grand-daughter", exclaimed Vishnu, though the priest in the temple never questioned who this new girl was. There were many new experiences and special moments in her first week of stay at Kishanpur - the first time she ever tasted the sweetest tender coconut water, stepped onto lush, green fields, ate her meal on top of a banana leaf and most importantly, the first time someone caressed her hair when she was falling asleep. She loved the pampering showered by her grandma and her excited and lively grandpa. She relished every moment spent in the village. She was more than happy to share her experiences in Mumbai to the awe struck villagers. Though initially hesitant, she has also made some new friends of her age in the street and also started to enjoy the new games that these kids taught her.

"Happy birthday, dear Sheela", sang her grandma and grandpa. In front of her was a dish that looked like a cake but it wasn't. "Sorry dear. We couldn't get you the normal birthday cake that you would be getting in the city. So I made this milk sweet in a round shape", blushed Sharada. "Oh grandma, this is lovely. Let me blow the candles and taste it", hurried Sheela. "First make a wish, my child", said Vishnu. Her wish was undoubtedly to spend her next birthday with such caring grandparents. This day turned out to be her best birthday ever. Although small in monetary value, the gifts from her new found friends were a treasure to her. Her grandpa has gifted her an antique violin piece." I used to play regularly but these days I'm not using it. I hope you get to learn and enjoy the music", he mentioned.

As every good thing comes to an end, so was her vacation. With lots of beautiful memories, she came back to her home in Mumbai. While unpacking, she touched the violin and could feel the presence of her grandparents. "This holiday season was the best", she started to write her diary.

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