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A Celebration of Life

An excerpt from a letter written by Erica to her friend Jill dated 5th September, 2010:

 ……..Well anyway that matter is over and done with. A most unusual thing happened to me about a week ago. Aashna and I met up at my house for a while and then decided to go for an early dinner at Dominoes. The sky was overcast and a slight wind prevailed. We walked down to the place.

As we entered it – it had one of those absolutely fascinating doors that open and shut automatically when they sense somebody close – we noticed a whole a group of school children, probably of our age, sitting at various tables and relaxing after an examination.  Just as we sat down to order, the sky darkened , a sort of gloomy dullness spread everywhere and almost in no time, it started  pouring. 

Soon thunder and lightning caught on too.  We all became a little uneasy at this unexpected turn of events.  However, hoping that it would clear out in a while, we continued with our orders. As opposed to the scene outside, the inside of the joint, where we sat, was bright, warm and comforting.  Some of us (I mean the group of school – kids too) got calls from our mothers and just as we were assuring them of our safety, the electricity went off.

Now was the time when the two automatic doors did not really look fascinating to me as they were now sealed shut.  By some unspoken mutual consent, all of us moved closer and sat on just one table in the centre.  All the people working there had taken refuge in the warm kitchen.

For a while none of us spoke.  But then, one by one we got about talking and pretty soon we were introduced to that group of four friends. Aman was a tall, lanky guy with a sardonic expression on his face (the occasional flashes of lightning afforded the view) and a sarcastic remark for everything.  Perhaps for this very reason I liked him the best!

The other people were Jahanvi, a sweet good-natured girl with a knack for listening to everyone as if her life depended on it, Rhea, a moody girl who mostly kept to herself, and Ishan, a great guy who was out sole entertainer.  We chatted for a while and were getting along very well.

To use the clichéd expression- time flew by. Soon enough, it was a quarter to twelve (midnight). Making the restroom an excuse, I got up and went to the back of the counter and sat there for a while. I was feeling very low at the prospect of spending my birthday stuck here in the dark, unwelcoming pizza joint when I should have been home, in my lovely bedroom, with all my family laughing, joking, opening presents and teasing my little brother.

A few minutes later, my phone vibrated in my pocket to signal that it was midnight. An involuntary tear left my eye as I whispered to myself ‘Happy Birthday!’ Then I got up and went back to join the group. A flash of lightning illuminated the entire room and what I saw left me speechless. I stood there and started in disbelief at the scene around me.

Using a small pizza slice, all the people had made a small cake and had put a small chocolate at the side. Each of them shone their phones at the impromptu cake so I could take a better look! And then, in an absolutely unmelodious chorus they began singing ‘Happy Birthday’. Just like a mother thinks her new-born child’s crying is the most melodious sound in the world, that extremely out-of-tune chorus, to me, was bliss.

I sat down with this huge smile on my face and thanked each of them again and again. In answer to my profuse thanks, they each took out whatever they found in their pockets and gifted that to me. They laughed and talked and chatted once again, while I savored the small Cadbury chocolate.

We snuggled together for warmth and after a while some of them began to nod off. I sat answering all the texts from my other friends and then, with an assortment of small presents in my pocket (that included a broken key chain, a black scrunchie hair band, a yellow and blue hair-chip and an empty candy wrapper) I, too, went off to sleep.

You had asked me how my birthday celebrations had been and now I hope you are satisfied with my answer. Unpredictability and life they are synonymous! So, have you seen five hundred days of summer?………

Contributing Story Teller: Anvita Budhraja is a student of Class 10, Bombay Scottish School, Mumbai and can be reached at [email protected]

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