The Thirteenth Birthday Gift

He knew the routine by heart now; like always he would be packed and bundled off on the train at night so that he would reach the village in the morning. Like always, his grandfather would come to the station to pick him and take him to their ancestral home. Like always, he would sloth around for the entire summer vacation, at the end of which his grandfather would put him on the train that took him to his parents.

His parents were too busy to take long vacations and even if they did manage to get a day or two, they would never go to the village because they needed to be in the city itself to ensure that they would always be available on call in case there was some kind of emergency in the office. Among themselves, they managed RK Enterprises and its flourishing export business. His mother worked in the daytime and his father was always in meetings with the clients from the USA at night.

His grandparents were really kind and loving people, but they were too old and weak to take the young boy around the village and keep him entertained.

*

Mukul felt something brush against his hair. He opened his eyes to see his grandparents sitting by his bed, watching him sleep. His grandmother was stroking his hair and that was what had woken him up.

“Look Rama, he is up…” his grandfather’s eyes gleamed as he spoke to his wife.

“Yes yes, you only woke him up by making all the noises.”

Grandpa, putting on a huge show and looked offended. His wife laughed, knowing fully well that he was just being dramatic to entertain their young guest. Mukul finally sat up and rubbed his eyes wondering whatever on earth was going on around him. Enthusiasm oozing in every word, his grandpa tugged at his sleeves until Mukul finally got out of his bed.

“Come on, we have a surprise for you…”

“Whyyyyyy”

“Because you are never here to celebrate your birthday with us, that’s why. And you are turning thirteen this year. Don’t you know how special thirteenth birthdays are? Now come quick lazy bones..” his grandpa never left a chance where he could make fun of Mukul.

“Ok now both of you quiet. Mukul beta, take my hand and walk with me. Don’t listen to him…”

Together, they took him through the empty corridors and into an old unlit room.

“Go on, find the door and open it..” nudged his grandma.

Prying with his fingers, he finally managed to locate the door. The door opened easily into a shed attached to the room where there was a brand new bicycle, looking resplendent in all its bright metallic paints. His joy knew no bounds as he squealed out a big thank youuuuuuuu in excitement.

Not waiting to brush or eat anything, he mounted the cycle and went off for a ride, to explore the village on his own, with his new companion the brand new cycle, waving his hand meaning an ‘aye’ when his grandma shouted to tell him that he had to be back by lunch and that she would have his favourite prawns mango curry ready by then.

This is what Mukul loved most about spending summers in the village. He was constantly pampered

by his grandparents who doted on him, they made sure he always got his favourite dishes to eat and to add to that list were a few new things: the roaming about in the village, the dip in the river on hot afternoons and spending time with his new friend.

*

As instructed by his grandmother he came back by lunch time after he took a few rides around their property and rode past the village market. The lunch was ready by the time he quickly came after hurriedly washing himself. The steaming rice made him happy. At home, his lunch would mostly be bread or chapati because his mother had no time to cook and he had to rely on whatever he could get from the school canteen. His grandma served out ladles of hot prawns and mango curry, making sure that he got the juiciest and the biggest pieces of prawns and mangoes.

Mukul polished off the plate in no time. He loved the added sourness that curd brought into the already sour lunch. While at home, his mother would always buy him manufactured curd, but what he loved most was when his grandfather would scoop out perfectly set curd from the earthern pot that his grandma used to make curd in. He could even eat it up like dessert. That is how much he loved curd.

When his grandparents went into their room to rest for a while, Mukul took his new friend and decided to go explore the village some more. He wanted to see the river and the mango orchard. He had heard his grandfather tell that the sweetest mangoes grew on that tree and that they were his grandmother’s favourite. Mukul wanted to bring back some to surprise his mother’s mother who took care of him more than his own mother ever did.

 

To Be Continued

 

My friend Leo and I  are writing on the same theme for the AtoZ2015. The word for the alphabet M that we've chosen is Mango. 
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Writing to me is therapy, it frightens and comforts at the same time. Liberates like nothing else. A book in my own name is a dream, but a bigger dream would be to write something that haunts the reader even after the last page is turned and the book is shut. I enjoy reading and music, spending time with family whilst battling my social awkwardness.

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