A Birthday Celebration





The boy looked smart in his white shirt, grey pants and the tie with red and blue stripes. His father stood by the door tapping his feet at the threshold as he skimmed through the newspaper. His mother was combing his hair as he tied his shoe laces. His dreamy eyes narrowed and his lips curled down slightly as he caught the strong smell of the coconut oil his mother had applied on his hair. He did not like the oil. It made him sleepy and got him in trouble at school for sleeping in class. As he got up from the sofa, suddenly he stopped in his track with a thoughtful look.

Today is my birthday,” he announced. His father and mother looked at him, their eye brows raised.  His mother was the first to speak up. “So what about it? We wished you as soon as you got up and you have already had some of the cake I baked for you.

And I have got you the Kodak camera you wanted,” his father added, adjusting his spectacles over his broad nose.

I want to wear my new clothes to school,” he said taking off his socks and shoes.

But you never liked having your birthday celebrated at school.”  He knew that sharp look in his mother’s eyes.  She already smells a rat, he told himself. He had to play his cards very carefully.
He tried to put on an innocent angelic look on his face and replied, “I realized the joy of sharing.” His mother still did not seem to look convinced.

But before his mother could continue with her questioning, his father stepped in, “If he wants to celebrate his birthday with this friends, so be it. Get him dressed in his new clothes and let us get going. It is getting late.

Mother made a small pout but went in quietly to open the cupboard to take out his birthday clothes. He had a smug look on his face as he untied his tie knot. In a few minutes, he was all set to go to school in his blue checked shirt and dark blue pant. He caught the strong smell of lentil and spices as his mother handed him his tiffin box. “Not Sambhar rice again!” he sighed.

He marched by his father’s side, his school bag hung to his back and his lunch basket in his right hand  swinging up and down as they walked through narrow road filled with stench of feces and urine. Here and there they could see small boys squatting on the side of the road, making their contribution of odorants to the road. It was quite a challenge in some stretches to maneuver one’s way past the buffaloes that  were tied to one side of the road, keeping  one’s eyes out for the traffic both ahead and behind and below as well to avoid stepping on something squishy squash.y
.
They stopped at a little shop just in front of the bus stand. “Which chocolate do you want,” his father asked him. Pat came the reply, “Get whatever is the cheapest.  Just ensure we have at least and hundred and twenty chocolates or so. We have sixty students in class and there are thirty more from the other section during the Hindi period.

Cheapest?

Money does not grow on trees does it? I wouldn't want to waste your hard earned money, do I?” Again the boy’s face had assumed the serene angelic expression. His father rolled his eyes; he hardly seemed to believe what he had just heard.  But today was his birthday and birthday brought with it immunity from the usual scrutiny and questioning. It also meant he did not have to get squashed between people in a crowded bus in the sweltering June heat and land up in school literally dripping with sweat; his own and those of his fellow passengers. His father hailed an auto rickshaw and he got in and sat down one leg on top of the other, enjoying the breeze blowing against his face as the auto sped away towards the school premises.

Three hours later

The bell rang and a woman in her mid-twenties dressed in an elegant green Sari entered the class. She greeted the class in Hindi and the whole class broke out into chorus. Then someone mentioned about his birthday. She smiled at him, her pearly teeth glistening on her oval face and asked everyone to wish him in Hindi. There was again a chorus. Then he distributed chocolates to the students of the other section and went back to the seat. By now the first fifteen minutes of the class was over
.
Now it was the time for the part all students dreaded. “How many of you have not done your homework?” Ten boys stood up. He too was among them. She called them to come over to the front one by one. She asked each boy to hold out his hand and gave three sharp raps on the knuckle with the ruler and asked to go and stand outside the class. Finally it was his turn.

She looked at him with her large round eyes. He thought he saw a slightly cruel streak across those otherwise pretty eyes. There was a slight softening of expression. “Since today is your birthday, I excuse you. Go back to your seat. Do not repeat this again.”

As he returned to his seat, his gait had a merry rhythm and lots of energy to it. He kept a straight innocent face, while grinning from ear to ear inside his heart.  The new dress and chocolates had served their purpose well. 

Picture Credit : http://giftjaipur.com

38 comments:

Maliny, said...

Reminded me of my school days. I used to be regular with my home works though. But i remember lying to my mother about my marks. My father wasn't that strict, so i used to make him sign my progress report, somehow or the other evading her. And we used to call it colour dress, anything other than a uniform when worn to class. Looking back, that usage sounds kind of strange.

Beautifully narrated as always. Were you the protagonist in the story?:)

Deepa said...

Rocking visualization in the first paragraph! I could feel the scene unfold in front of me! I was a little confused by the ending though :D Makes me wonder if he had not worn new clothes but had brought cholocates, would he have gotten the caning? :)

The Fool said...

Thanks Deepa. Actually on birthday you wear new clothes and distribute chocolates. No one just distributes chocolates. And parents also would have been suspicious if boy had just asked to take chocolates and not wear new clothes.

The Fool said...

Thanks Maliny. I am trying to write stories from my memories so that vivid imagery is easier as I have real memories to go by and do need to imagine stuff.

Even we used to call it color dress only. For me both were equal hazards.

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Getting better by the day TF! That was great narration.

The Fool said...

Thanks CS. As you know I am writing these to improve my skills in this kind of writing. Of course there is inherent value too. More than the name or physical form, it is an aggregate of these kinds of incidents that define me. So it is worthwhile I guess to record them in a more long lasting medium.

jaish_vats said...

Hitting kids with rulers! I used to hate that and still do! Btw that was a nice suspense! :)

The Fool said...

Well whether we like it or not, teachers do at least in India. Maybe not in the suede international schools.

debajyoti said...

exactly the kind of post i love to read. such a sweet story! i am sure, most of us would be able to connect with the story. and why don't you like sambar-rice? it's the best food on earth!

btw, read on someone's comment section that your book is really doing well! congratulations!!!

Rickie said...

Chatur Baalak. I am sure he grew up to do very well in life!
Great storytelling!

Alka Gurha said...

Ha ha..smart chap. Incredibly visual story narration.

Apala Sengupta said...

such a lovely narration! i could feel an instant connection with the mischievous little brat!!

Gayathri said...

Very nice Story to start the morning! Loved it! :)

CRD said...

Wily cunning lil bastard....

Oops..it's his birthday :p

Loved your description of Squishy Lane

Cheers
CRD

Do visit mine

The Fool said...

Thanks debajyoti. It gets monotonous eating it everyday and does not taste good - cold in the mid day lying around in tiffin box for 3-4 hours.

No clue how book is doing.

The Fool said...

Thanks Rickie. Guess I would not be able to comment if he is doing very well in life or not.

The Fool said...

Thanks Alka. The smart chap was me in standard 6, by the way.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot Apala. I am happy this new style is working.

The Fool said...

Thanks Gayatri. Your comment made a great start for my morning as well.

The Fool said...

Thanks CRD. Cunning lil bastard has now grown up but the squishy lane is still as it has been described here.

Akanksha Dureja said...

Amazing story-telling :) Loved it as I wandered into my own childhood while reading.

umashankar said...

Glad to learn more about the old scheming, imaginative fellow. That was a descriptive leaf out of the book of memories.

The Fool said...

Thanks Akanksha. Childhood is always memorable.

The Fool said...

Glad you found my old memories interesting.

serenelyrapt said...

Knotty kid, weren't you? And now?
Dagny

The Fool said...

Well. It was more survival instinct to get out of knotty situations I would call it.

Rachna said...

I enjoyed this form of story telling. I sometimes too feel so lost in visualizing certain scenes in movies that it feels like a let down when one comes back to reality. Interesting read.

Diwakar Narayan said...

Smart boy! I remember wearing new cloths to my school, but the chocolates came from teachers :). Homework..I never missed!

NoFaIrYtAlE said...

OMG HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN?!
I am pretty sure you don't remember me now :p
ANYHOO, nice story! People like you make me feel so small: using big, difficult words and all. I can't even remember the spelling of most of the words properly. (or maybe I'm dystexic? Don't really want to know the answer to that '-_- )
In my school, we weren't allowed to wear nice, pretty dresses :( We had to go in uniform. Didn't like the attention anyway (blah blah grapes are sour blah blah)

NoFaIrYtAlE said...

And what's with your name???? Lucifer????????????????????? Reminds me of supernatural :p

Pratik Mohapatra said...

A great post. Reminded me of old memories. Not sounded artificial at all.. the best thing was one could visualize the way in which you'd written it.

The Fool said...

Name of the blog. My name is TF.

The Fool said...

I remember you very well - one of the three Poojas on Indiblogger. Have I used any big words in this post? I usually try to use simpler words.

In my schools usually color dress was allowed on birthdays.

The Fool said...

Teachers giving chocolates? Nice. I tended to be forgetful at times.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Rachna.

The Fool said...

Glad it brought back your old memories, Pratik.

Pankti Mehta said...

Hahaha....it reminded me of my school days when I either used to pray for heavy rains or other calamity just to get out of homework mess. Unfortunately, I never was inclined to do my homework throughout the academic life. :D

The Fool said...

Thanks, Pankti. I am not inclined to do my homework even during my professional life. But have to.

Nice to see you going over my posts meticulously one after the other.

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