A Birthday Gift - Short Story About Mother's Gift
Mr. Sen glanced towards
the wall, the hands of the clock indicated that it was three in
the afternoon. He would have to leave office right away and go for
his appointment with the doctor. He looked up at his assistant Shrabasti,
sitting in front of him and announced that he had to leave immediately
and that she should finish the pending work before she left for
the day. Shrabasti looked up with a start slowly coming out of her
thoughts and nodded slowly. Mr. Sen had noticed recently that his
assistant had become absent minded. She had always been a star performer
and the different departments of the organization vied to have her
services. Mr. Sen had fought quite doggedly to retain her in this
section but certain personal issues had mentally disturbed Shrabasti
to quite an extent and he was well aware of that. He had tried to
be as helpful as possible in his own way but deep inside he knew
that no amount of sympathy was enough to make her feel better.
Mr. Sen packed his
Tiffin and umbrella into his smart looking leather bag and made
his way out of the office. “See you tomorrow” he said as he left.
Shrabasti nodded in acknowledgement. The
figures on the paper made little sense to her at the moment. Her
mind had been wandering and trying to push back the thoughts did
not help. They came back to haunt her and the deep uncertainty of
the situation made her uneasy. Shrabasti, sat up straight and looked
at her watch. It was three-thirty, Gargi and Babita her two colleagues
peeped into the chamber and found that Mr. Sen had left. “Shrabasti
Di, what are you doing?
Still working? It
is your birthday and you should be on your way home, your family
must be waiting to cut the cake” chuckled Gargi. “Nah, say that
her hubby dear will be waiting for her with open arms” said Babita
mischievously with a twinkle in her eyes. Shrabasti smiled. Yes
she had to leave early.
Her two sons
Tatun and Simba would be dancing in excitement and waiting
to cut the cake on their mother’s birthday. She made her way
to the washroom. Washed her face and looked up into the mirror.
At 39 she looked good she felt, taking into consideration
the mental state she was in. Shrabasti was not a classical
beauty in fact she was short and had a dark complexion but
had the most beautiful pair of eyes in the world. Friends
and colleagues adored her for the person she was. Her helpful
nature made her touch people’s heart, inspite of all her problems
she never forgot to wish people on their birthdays and anniversary
and was a wonderful host to people who visited her home. She
brushed her hair and adjusted her dupatta. The rust color
new dress which she wore looked gorgeous on her. It was time
Her colleagues gathered
around her as she collected her belongings and gift packet which
they had given her on her birthday. Another round of wishing and
joking followed before she finally left. Making her way to the nearest
suburban train station Shrabasti sunk back into her melancholic
mood once again. Tatun her elder son was a sweet child but was enormously
hyperactive. He was always upto something which was dangerous and
disturbing. He was an average student and had to be regularly cajoled,
threatened or spanked to get through his regular studies and exams.
It was not Tatun though who disturbed her more. It was Simba, her
three year ten month old younger son who was born with Downs’
Syndrome and had been the source of a lot of distress. After
he was born Shrabasti came to know about the pitfalls of a child
having Downs’ Syndrome.
process, being prone to illness and a constant need to attend
to him was taking a toll on her. She had become irritable and having
to manage her home, aged in-laws, her office and two kids was becoming
too much of a stress for her.
In two months
time SImba would turn four years and yet he was yet to speak
and this had been the biggest disappointment she was facing
right now. Speech therapy sessions and visits to doctors had
yet not given her the joy of hearing her son speak. Not being
able to speak meant he would not get into a proper school.
A drop of tear moved down her cheek as she settled into a
seat in the train taking her homeward. Tatun would turn eleven
soon and his constant defiance of Sinjin’s efforts to discipline
him made her lose her temper often. Nowadays he had taken
to taking Simba inside a room and locking the door with a
plea that he would play with his younger brother. Given Tatun’s
temperament his grandparents were apprehensive that he might
hurt Simba while playing one of his dangerous games.
When queried, Tatun
never came up with a proper answer as to what he had been doing
with his brother inside the room. Shrabasti’s husband was busy with
his business and found little time to spend with them.
Shrabasti let out
a sigh. She felt cornered and over burdened by the situation. The
train moved into her home platform and she brightened up at the
thought of being able to spend time with her children on her birthday.
She disembarked from the train and made her way through the lanes
of Birati. She approached the gate and was surprised to see that
no one was the gate. It was usual to find them near the gate if
they knew mom was coming home early and Shrabasti had expected Tatun
to be jumping around in excitement with SImba in tow. The door was
open and this too was unusual, as she moved inside she peeked into
her mother-in-law’s room and found her sleeping while her father-in-law
sat on an easy chair with his eyes closed, obviously resting. She
still could find her sons and called out for Tatun. Bappa,
her husband was also not at home and a sudden fear gripped her that
something terrible must have happened to SImba. She swiftly moved
on to the first floor and just as she approached the door of the
room, Tatun came out smiling. Shrabasti felt disappointed and irritated.
Tatun must have been playing with SImba as he usually did and had
perhaps forgotten that it was his mom’s birthday, she thought. “What
have you been up to? Where is Simba?” she asked somewhat sternly.
Tatun just shrugged his shoulders and said “Oh, we were just getting
your birth-day gift ready”.
Curiosity took over
Shrabasti as she walked behind Tatun, quickening her steps. “What
is that?” she asked, trying to think of what it could be possible
and why he had involved SImba in his activity. A strange sense of
apprehension tinged in her mind. “I think you should change your
clothes and wash before you can have your gift” said Tatun matter-of-factly
as he walked down the stairs like an adult. Shrabasti glanced inside
the room and saw Simba sitting quietly on the sofa and her eyes
searched for a hidden packet or something which she could make out
to be her gift. She found none. Reluctantly she walked back to her
room as she knew pressing Tatun any further would not yield any
result. He could be very adamant if he chose to be so. She went
to the washroom, changed her clothes and drank a glass of water
and tried to remain as calm as possible. Tatun suddenly appeared
in front of their bedroom and said “it is time to have your gift,
please come upstairs” and turned around to walk up the stairs.
her son like a dutiful mother. On reaching the room, Tatun turned
to his mother and said, “Every year I give you something on your
birthday and this year SImba will give you something, I just helped
him”. Shrabasti found the statement enigmatic but could hardly hold
back her intense curiosity and moved straight ahead into the room.
“Please sit down on the floor” ordered Tatun. Shrabasti followed
what he said mesmerized by the way things were going. Tatun looked
up and Simba and nodded smiling an impish smile. Simba moved up
slowly and walked towards his mother and suddenly threw his arms
around her and said in clear words “Happy birthday ma, I and dada
love you so much”. Tears rolled down Shrabasti’s cheeks she pulled
both his sons close to her and wept the happiest tears of her life.
Tatun had all along helping SImba with his speech and had planned
the perfect gift for his mother.
I am Jaideep
Majumdar, working with a petroleum major in India and write
articles and stories for the print and electrnic media as a freelancer.
Presently I stay in Kolkata. [email protected]