The Joker Of The Party
The Joker Of The Party
It was Shreya’s 10th birthday the next day. She was all dreamy in school… What would mom and dad do for my birthday tomorrow! Throw a birthday bash! I hope they wish me tonight at 12.00 am; just as Krisha’s family did. All her relatives came over and she did not even have to attend school on her birthday. I hope mom does not put me to bed early tonight like she always does. I am going to be a big girl tomorrow. She promised she would get me a puppy for my 10th birthday. I am sure she remembers. I had reminded mom and dad indirectly last Sunday. She was overexcited for the next day.
She reached home, and she heard them talking in the room. She tried to hear what they were talking but the room was shut. Anyways she had to rush to her classes. She better get ready. Last time her teacher had scolded her for being late. By the time she got dressed mom and dad too should be out, she thought. She would say good afternoon to them, just like a good girl and start a small talk about her favourite breed of dogs, she thought. A smart way to remind them of what she wanted for her birthday. A good idea, she patted herself.
But by the time she got out dad was already gone. What was all the rush about, she thought? Her mom came from the kitchen. She said,” Hi Shreya, how was the day?” Shreya replied, “ A very good afternoon to you mom. It was a great day at school. Mom, you know Rashna has a Golden retriever. It's so cute and so friendly, I just love it.” Her mom understood what Shreya was trying to convey to her. But she only responded with “Hmm. Now finish your snacks and rush. You know how strict Mrs. Mukherjee is.” Shreya was pushed off for classes.
There was a surprise test at her classes. But no problem, she had already finished studying this lesson when she glanced at the questions. She scored quite well. Her parents would be very happy to see that Mrs. Mukherjee had written ‘very good’ in remarks. She wanted to show it to dad first and then start talking to him about dogs. His knowledge about dogs was far better than mom’s.
She reached home, only to find dad missing. It was already 8 pm and dad was not back yet. “Mom, where is dad?” “He is at the Hospital dear… There has been a major accident near the hospital. Your dad was called for emergencies. There have been a lot of casualties. A school bus full of children banged into an oil tanker and there was a huge blast. A lot of children were hurt. Your dad has been doing surgeries continuously since noon.” Shreya’s father was a pediatric surgeon. Shreya felt really sorry and concerned for the children and others too,“ I hope they get well soon mom.” “Will dad be around for my birthday tomorrow?”, she felt sheepish, but she really had to know. “I don’t know dear. He said he will be staying over at the hospital tonight. But he did not say anything about tomorrow.” Her mom felt really bad for Shreya. Shreya was visibly upset.
She noticed the test papers and congratulated her for scoring well, trying hopelessly to change the topic. She made Shreya’s favourite dinner to cheer her up and served it immediately. But nothing worked. This time she did not even force Shreya to go to bed early. Her mom too prayed in her heart that he would call around 12.00. am. Shreya waited till 12.15 am. and then fell asleep. Her dad did call around 12.45 am. and asked how Shreya was. He requested his wife to apologize for him. She asked him if he had eaten something for dinner? And how was the situation there? He replied, that he had managed to get something from the canteen. But he had not been able to bat an eye, as some of the patients were very serious. He had been in and out of surgeries continuously.
The next day Shreya woke up. She had her breakfast and when her mom handed over her birthday gift she took it but did not bother to open it. It looked like a book. Mom did not get a dog for me, she was really angry now… How could mom be so discourteous! And dad! He did not even call, she thought. That’s when her mom told her that dad had called, but it was pretty late and she was fast asleep. He had wished her and was extremely reluctant about not being around on her birthday. He would call when she would be home from school. She just stormed off to school. Her mom felt hurt and saddened too, but she did not show her feelings. She just told her to invite her friends to the party in the evening.
When Shreya reached school, she felt a little better when her friends sang for her and loaded her with gifts and all… She forgot about everything, her dad, her mom’s stupid gift…everything. She invited all her friends to the party.
By the time she reached home from school, she felt a little better. She was hoping to hear a dog barking out there. But no! There was no dog waiting at the door. And mom too was nowhere to be found. All she heard was the phone ringing. It was dad. Oh, he finally found some time for me! She answered the call, “ Hi my darling, I am really sorry. Wish you a very, very Happy Birthday! I will be there for the party. I have one last surgery to perform. And I shall be home.” She just said, “ Thanks dad!” and cut the call.
It was evening by the time she was done with attending all the calls and responding to messages. Her mom had got her a new dress. It was the one she had liked at the mall. She got dressed up and the guests began pouring in. The party was in the garden of their house. There was a joker too. When did mom arrange for one? She was amused. She liked the jokers. This party was different, unlike other parties, that her friends had thrown. She had seen a joker a few months back at a circus. It was one of the biggest circuses and was a very renowned one too. She had liked the joker immediately. He was so funny.
Was this one the same? He had a big round nose like a Koala, but the joker’s nose was red. His clothes were so funny. He had all the colours of the rainbow on his clothes. A patch here and one there. She laughed when she saw him. When her friends came, he made all of them laugh. He sang her favourite song from the movie “Taare Zameen Par”. The funny jokes he cracked and the way he fell. He made them play train, train. He helped her cut the cake and he even applied some on her nose. Just like her dad. Then it was Rockie’s idea to put some cake on the joker’s face. They all ran behind him pulling, and tugging at his shirt. The party was almost over. Shreya had almost forgotten that her dad was missing because of this joker. The joker fooled around with Rosie. He scared her from behind with a “bhau”, when they were playing hide and seek. She was the last one to search for. Oh, finally they found her! Shreya thought. But the “Bhau” reminded her of a dog.
Or wait, was it a dog’s bark! There was another “bhau”… Shreya ran inside the house… The joker had a golden retriever puppy in his hand. Oh my God! It was a real dog! So cute. He also had her mom’s gift in his hand. Then she looked closely at the joker. Oh My God! She exclaimed loudly. The joker was no one else but her dad. She was so happy to hug him, have the cute little dog and he asked her to open the wrapped gift which her mom had given. It was a book on dogs. He explained to her, that there was everything in it, from how to feed them, bathe them to how to train them.
Now Shreya felt really terrible. She hugged her mom tightly and said sorry to her for behaving so rudely. Her dad also said that he was really sorry for not being around the whole day and thanked his wife to handle everything so well single-handedly. Her mom told her that they had requested the dog shop owner to send the dog over in the morning itself, but since his own son was injured in the accident he could not do it. So her mom had to go to pick up the puppy. They had kept it at Riya’s place as they both wanted to give it to her together. Shreya was the happiest girl on earth that day. And the puppy was the best gift she could ever have.
Before going to bed she wanted to say thanks to her parents again and when she saw her father’s tired face she was shocked and sorry again. She just hugged him and said that they were the best parents ever. She promised herself to not be so selfish and ungrateful ever again.