Khushi's 6th Birthday...
Khushi's 6th Birthday...
It was the 23rd of November; Khushi’s 6th birthday. Rajesh had already turned six four months before. Khushi’s parents decided to celebrate her birthday at home. She invited all her friends and girlfriends for the party at their house in the evening. She never told Rajesh to come, though. But the two of them had been together for the entire day yesterday, and the day before that, and most of the days. So he didn’t need inviting, she thought. And Khushi was sure that he would be there with her for the entire day, anyways.
But, Rajesh was nowhere to be seen that day. He was, however, the first one to wish her ‘Happy Birthday’ at 12 o’clock, midnight. He made a call to her house at 12, and she was the one to pick up the call because Rajesh had already told her that he would call her at 12 o’clock to wish her happy birthday. And that was it. He was nowhere to be seen anytime on the day of her birthday.
Since it was Khushi’s day, she had been involved in her day so much that she didn’t miss him anytime soon. From the time she woke up, she had been unwrapping all the presents that her parents brought for her, and some other presents that were sent by her distant relatives. Her parents gifted her, a beautiful pink frock along with a pink coloured tiara, and a pink magic stick with a star at one end. She also got a wonderful Barbie set, a little pink colour handbag for her, and two more toy guns. Guns were among her favourite toys apart from Barbie and puzzles. Along with toys, she received plenty of chocolates which, for one day, she was free to eat as much as she wanted.
Khushi was too excited that day that she didn’t notice when it was already evening. All her friends would be there shortly to celebrate her birthday. Her mother took her to get her ready in the new pink frock they gifted. Her father had already made all the arrangements for the party. He had called two of the workers from his office to decorate the garden with balloons and ribbons and lightings.
It was when she was getting ready and looking at her own smiling face in the mirror, she remembered that she hadn’t seen Rajesh all day. And so she looked at her mother innocently and asked, “Mumma!! Where is Rajesh? I haven’t seen him since morning. Why didn’t he come, Mumma??” Although she looked all happy and excited for her birthday party, her mother saw that she was really missing her best friend.
She replied with a smile, “Don’t worry dear. He must be buying a big present for my Sweety now. He will be here in no time, baby.” And this assurance put a big smile on Khushi’s face. Perhaps, she was now thinking about the big present that her best friend would be bringing for her.
Within an hour nearly all of her friends were there. Khushi was now surrounded by her girlfriends Neetu, Priya, Shivi and Tara. All of them praised her beautiful Pari-dress. All of them were carrying a gift with them, and Khushi couldn’t help but smile at being so happy. And for the time being, she was lost again in chatting and dancing with her friends.
After a little while, her mother called her and everyone else to gather around the table in the centre. A big double-decker cake had been placed upon the table. A candle in the shape of number 6 was standing on top of it. Khushi was now standing by the table with her mother on one side, and her father on the other. Music system had been set to play the Happy Birthday song. Everything was so perfect- A perfect day for their perfect daughter.
It was when she was handed a Knife (a plastic one) and was asked to cut the cake once and for all, then only she realized that something is missing. She looked all around, the curious and excited faces of all her friends and girlfriends were now focused on the cake and upon the little girl holding the knife to cut that cake. All were waiting eagerly to begin clapping and start shouting ‘Happy Birthday to you… happy birthday to you… happy birthday dear Khushi… happy birthday to you…’ Then she turned around to look at her father and then she looked at her mother. Her smile had now faded from her lips. And she asked in a little heavy voice to her mother, “Mumma?? He is not here… Why is he not here, Mumma?? Why didn’t he come to my birthday, Mumma??” Her eyes were now filled with water.
A moment before that little girl was all too cheerful and excited. And now that same girl was looking sad. All her friends were there and all of them were so happy. Even her parents felt happier about their little girl’s birthday. But she was missing her only best friend, whom she hadn’t seen the entire day. She was not thinking about that big present her mother told about. She doesn’t want any present now. All she wanted now was for her best friend Rajesh to be there with her at that time.
Her parents too had no idea as to why Rajesh and his parents had not come there? They were all too close, and they all were invited. But, neither of them had any clue as to where they were? They were all grownups. It didn’t matter much to them. But how would you tell that to a little girl, who is turning six today, and is missing her only best friend? But, they had to say something to assure her, hadn’t they?
Her mother bent down on her knees, looked at Khushi’s sad face, gave her a fake assuring smile. She put her one hand over Khushi’s head and began caressing her hair. She finally said, “It’s okay, baby! Rajesh must have got stuck somewhere. He will come soon in little time. Now don’t worry, Sweety. It’s your birthday. Look at all your friends and all your girlfriends. See, how happy they look! And see how many gifts my little darling has got today! Now, smile like a sweet girl, and let’s cut the cake baby. See, everybody is gazing only at the cake now. They must be very hungry. If you don’t hurry and cut the cake now, then they would eat all of it, without leaving anything for us.” She did her best to distract Khushi and succeeded a little. There was again a little smile on her face. Now she was holding the knife firmly in her left hand. All eyes were on her. The moment she touched the knife to the cake and sliced it, a loud roar filled the air around her with roars of “Happy birthday to you…” The little girl was again smiling heartily, forgetting, once again, about her best friend.
But, Rajesh didn’t appear even after the party was over. And that night, Khushi went to bed crying for the entire time until she got too tired and fell asleep. She didn’t even open any of her friends’ presents.
The next morning came. Khushi woke up at her bed and the first thing she noticed was a pile of gifts in front of her eyes. She got all excited and called her Mumma, and together they opened up all the gifts. She felt so happy that time, looking at all different games and cards and chocolates.
Her father came to her room and smiled looking at her. He came close to Khushi and kissed her on the forehead. In all her happiness she told her father, “Papa, I am going to show all these gifts to Rajesh and we will play together.”
And, then she remembered everything that happened yesterday. And her smile vanished in thin air… which was taken over by a painful sad look… which was now taken over by an angry face…
She was now furious at her best friend. She was furious that he didn’t come to her birthday. She was furious because she had not seen him until then.
“No!” shouted Khushi. “No! I won’t show him my gifts. I won’t even talk to him again. He didn’t come, Papa... He didn’t come… ” And she began crying again.
Her parents looked sad and exchanged a look. Her mother asked him to find out what’s been wrong with them. Yesterday, they were all too busy to notice anything odd. But, now they too were a little worried. Her mother sat with Khushi on her bed and tried to console their little baby while his father went to call Mr Gupta (Rajesh’s father). He didn’t pick up the call that time.
Later when Rajesh’s father called back that day, they found out that Rajesh’s Nanaji (maternal grandfather) passed away that night. They received a call late that night at around 2 AM, and they had to leave early in the morning at around 5 AM when Rajesh was still asleep. Everything happened in so much haste that they had no time to tell anyone. Mr Gupta also told that although he would be back by tomorrow, Rajesh and her mother would be staying there for a little longer.
His father explained everything to Khushi. And he also told her that Rajesh was very very sad because he couldn’t come to your birthday. He also told her that he had bought a gift for you which he couldn’t give.
Her father tried to console her, “Don’t worry baby. He will be back in a few days. Then he will come to play with you again. It’s all right, baby.”
Through her tearful eyes, Khushi looked at the blurred image of her father. And with her heavy and soft voice, she asked in a whisper, “I want to go there, Papa… Can we go to him, Papa??” With one hand she tried to clear her tears to look clearly at her parents expectantly.
But, no reply came.
And she had to learn to let some of her wishes be washed away along with her tears, at her age. She cried for quite a long time that day.
Khushi’s father had already told her that Rajesh would not be back anytime soon. And it was for the first time in her life when she felt a little lonely. And maybe she learned at such a young age that how it feels to wait for someone to come back. Such an atrocity at such a tender age…