Thursday, December 31, 2009
'Don’t I give her enough money? Don’t I pay for those AC rooms and 24 hour attendant service? For God’s sake, she has a TV with cable in her room and so many people of her own age group. Why do I have to go to see her on my Birthday?'
'If I have to clock in those suffocating 10 minutes there then I better get it done with. I have been doing this for 8 years now. I better get used to it.'
He was through with the ritual in exactly 8 minutes after reaching the Old Age Home.
He walked towards his car, with that hated box in his hand.
He knew what was inside it.
'If she HAS to give me a cake then can’t she at least order it from an upscale bakery? Why does she have to bake the cake herself in the kitchen of the facility? Who eats this stuff now? loaded with sugar!'
The cake annoyed him more than his mother’s praises and kisses. His wife was right. He shouldn’t have come.
But then, his mother would refuse to eat and cry non-stop. And then she would have to be admitted in the hospital.
That would be really bad for PR.
After all, he was the VP of the biggest law firm in the city. Or perhaps in the whole state.
He put the box on the passenger seat of his dark Mercedes and drove towards his office. He never took his driver during these yearly visits. He knew how people talked.
Slowly, his mind focused on the day ahead. He had lunch scheduled with a client and then party in the night.
That’s how you celebrate your birthday. Not at a place full of dying people.
He stopped the car just outside his office and picked up the box.
He threw it straight into the garbage bin at the curb. It landed noiselessly, cushioned by the rotting refuse of the city.
A perfect shot.
He was an expert now. He had been doing it for 8 years now. Every year, the box went into that bin.
He drove on, forgetting all about it.
He never saw a pair of tiny hands reaching into the bin. Never saw a pair of eyes shining bright, half with tears and half with anticipation.
The kid could hardly reach it.
His face lit up as soon as he took the box out.
'I knew it!'
He jumped with joy, forgetting his filthy hands and tattered rags. Forgetting the fact that he had not eaten in 2 days.
Forgetting the cold. Forgetting everything!
He opened the box and there it was!
Written with frosting over the cake!
Exactly the same his mom would get for him every year! From the same place!
She had told him that an angel came and gave it to her for her little son on his birthday, every year!
He stopped for a moment... closed his eyes and raised his face towards the sky. Someone had told him, that's where the God fellow lived.
"Thank you Mom. I love you. And I miss you. Please come back soon! "
And then he shoved a tiny fistful of cake in his mouth.
Not really bothering whether the cake bore his name or if it was the other way round.
© 2009 by Chhaya. All rights reserved
image by Elizabeth Nourse (La Mère)