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Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

4 mins 270 4 mins 270

Little Piku was very eagerly waiting for her birthday. Because this was her birthday month. And whatever may come and wherever he may be, Piku knew that her father would not miss her birthday. Piku's father was a commissioned officer in the army and was posted in the absolute frontier which was very far from their home. It took many days to reach the house from the place of posting. Many modes of transport was needed. Usually Piku got the chance to be with her loving dad only once or twice in a year. Because he could not afford much holidays. Piku was told that the hard work her Papa and his friends were doing she and her family were living happily. But for her birthday her dearest Papa would be there by her side. Whatever wishes she desired, her loving father would go all out to fulfill it. Piku loved her father very much, much more than her mother or anyone in the family. Piku was always surrounded by loving people around her. Her mother was there always doting on her and there was Dada, her grandfather and Dadi her grandmother. All were specially doting on her always to ensure Piku did not feel her Papa's absence.

But this birthday was not going as destined. She could overhear some hush hush conversation in the household. There was talk of very heavy snowfall some where in the North West. Many soldiers were reported missing. Then Piku observed that her mother would come and give her a tight hug and wept a silent tear. This was being frequently repeated as the birthday neared.

Much of the day Piku had not to bear this as she was packed off to school. She noticed her mother didn't scold her now. Even when she had not eaten her tiffin fully. Her Dadi used to tell her stories when Piku was alone. Earlier Piku had to coax Dadi to tell stories but now it was the other way around. Her Dada used to voluntarily go out bring goodies for Piku without her even asking. This sudden change in behaviour in the house, Piku did not miss observing.

Her Dada used to be huddled near the TV and listen to the news channels all day.

Then the birthday came. Everyone seemed tense. Only Piku was happy her Papa would come. He would come with expensive gifts. He would pick up Piku and fill her cheeks with kisses and hugs from his bearded face. She enjoyed the warm heat of her Papa's body. She felt safe and relaxed. There was no safe place on earth other than her Papa's arms.

Early morning there was a knock on the door and Piku ran to open it. Today was her birthday and Piku had got up early and brushed her teeth and washed her face. She was ready to welcome her Papa. At the door she found her Papa as usual who dropped down, picked up little Piku and filled her cheeks with kisses. Her cheeks wet and eyes moist she tightly embraced her dad for her dear life. Everyone came rushing out highly surprised. Dada, Dadi, mommy, Piku's aunty and others who had come to the house recently. Everyone was there prepared to console Piku on her birthday when she would not have found her dad at the door. But seeing nothing of the expected happening everyone was very surprised.

There were animated discussions all around. Her Papa was mobbed by all the inmates. Everyone wanted to know how her Papa managed to return from the grave danger he had been. Then her Papa narrated his full story of how he had been very lucky to have survived. He had seen some of his colleagues washed away in the snow-covered river. Her Papa had managed to hold on to a branch of a tree when the snow blizzard was in full force. His army convoy had disintegrated. Everyone was ordered to fend for himself. Then slowly her Papa gathered himself after the avalanche had subsided and the blizzard had stopped. It took him many days of walking to come to human habitation all lonely and desolate.

He did not know if there were other survivors like him. He knew only his deep love for his darling daughter was egging him on and drawing towards home. Slowly he managed to reach the nearest army camp and few days of recuperating in the sickbay did he manage to make the long journey home. To be in time for the Happy Birthday.

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