It's your birthday ~ Tales from the dark side

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's your birthday

He sat alone in the room, on the sofa. The curtains were drawn, but still rays of sunlight peeked into the room like a desparate lover, illuminating a single long strip on the floor. That was the only light in the room.

He was forty, his youth long left behind, his hair had greyed and there were wrinkles on his forehead. His head was slightly bowed as if he was listening to something, but there was no music. The aroma of joss sticks floated in the room, it came through the small hole in the closed door, pausing as if to ask for permission.

He thought he had built an impenetrable wall around him. But life wouldn't leave him alone. The scent of the joss sticks brought images to his mind...

He was six years old again, it was his birthday, he must have remembered. He was waiting, for something... Yes, his father, he was late. His mother had permitted him to bunk school for that day, and he had spent the entire morning in his new fashionable clothes, getting accustomed again with small happenings in his house, like the way the cook took instructions from his mother every morning, the newspaperman chucking the newspaper at the steps of their front door, the milkman crowing early in the morning on his bicycle with two heavy cans on the side, things he had stopped seeing since he had started school, things he had almost forgotten. Suddenly, in the comfort of his old life, everything seemed alright again. He was happy, but he was still waiting for something.... Yes, Baba. He said a little prayer to God to send Baba home on time. He spent the entire afternoon poring over his birthday gifts, the new remote controlled car his uncle gave him, and the books, so many of them! He loved reading, his favourite protagonist was Ray's Feluda, and his mother had gifted him an entire collection. There were so many toys, and other little things. But his father hadn't gifted him anything, "Yet...", he reminded himself.

He fell asleep among his many gifts which lay scattered on the bed.

He woke up at four. He couldn't wait to show his neighbourhood best friend all the gifts that he had received, he had come back from school by now. They spent two hours fiddling with the remote and reading comic books, and soon it was time to say goodbye, it was getting dark.

It was his birthday, so he didn't have to study. He yelled with joy when his mother told him that. His mother tried to hide her smile.

"Mumma when will Baba be home?", he enquired casually, with the remote in his hand. His mother was working in the kitchen, "How will I know? He didn't tell me", she said, secretly she was irritated too, it was her son's birthday, how much work can he have? "He'll be here soon...", she added as a soothing afterthought.

The boy said nothing, he was watching cartoons.

The clock seemed to move rather erroneously, sometimes he felt as if he hadn't blinked and fifteen minutes had passed, and sometimes he kept staring at it, but still it didn't move.

With every growing hour, he was growing impatient, tears were slowly building up in his heart.

"He does this everytime", he thought, "everytime I really want him to come soon....", his thoughts were interrupted by the doorbell. He was excited, and wary at the same time, could it be Baba? He walked slowly to the door, not betraying the way his heart was jumping and pounding. He opened it.

There he was, with a huge smile on his face and a package in his hand. "I have come", he said. The boy was angry with him, he didn't say a word, he just went back to his sofa and his remote. The boy's father was confused, he went into the kitchen, even his wife wasn't speaking to him properly. "What's the matter? Why are you two behaving so strange?", he asked, his mind exploding with frustrated curiosity. "Do you have any idea of the time?", his wife said in a sarcastic tone, her eyes spoke of sarcasm in volumes. He understood, he stood there for a moment, looked at his feet, and then went to his son, he sat beside him and was watching TV with him. After a while, he said, "I have brought you something, won't you see what it is?". The boy contemplated silence for a moment, but then, he decided against it, he was curious too, "What could it be?", he went up and took the package from the table, it felt heavy in his hands, oddly shaped too. He didn't rip it open like the rest of the presents, he took his time, and neatly unwrapped it. It was a violin.

The images started evaporating like snow, and soon it was the dark room that he could see again. The music was still in his ears. Everyone who had heard him play had admitted he was a prodigy. But somewhere down the line, the music faded and caught rust. He tried to fight his tears, but he couldn't.
He stood up, walked slowly towards the window...

He tried to think, but there was nothing to think about. He pulled the curtains, and sunlight bathed him. His unexperienced eyes closed for a second. Then it was alright. He was suddenly filled up with enthusiasm again, he ran towards the door and opened it. "Baba", he shouted, "I will change, I promise Baba". His Baba heard him, he came running towards his room. He saw him with tears in his eyes. It was an awkward moment for both of them.

Slowly they walked towards each other, and Baba held him in his arms, his head was on Baba's shoulders. His tears slowly stained his Baba's kurta, and they stood like that.


little boxes said...

beautifully written...
a beautiful portrait of human emotions.

The Rainmaker said...

thanks :)

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