AN ENRICHING BIRTHDAY PARTY
It was my little cousin sister’s eighth birthday. Jumping enthusiastically around after springing out of her bed early in the morning on her very own special day; she frolicked around the house hastily, getting ready to get into the new frock, matching shoes and hair bow—which were waiting for her. I watched with amusement as she hurriedly dried her wet curly hair, amidst the tight hugs and kisses of her mother. She slipped joyously into her attire of the day and smiled at me as she ran a matching sock into her right foot. She hugged her Dad tightly and planted a warm kiss on his cheek as he gifted her his present. She gobbled down her breakfast, grabbed her school bag, thrust in a box of chocolates and ran towards her honking school van, all excited about her day at school and the big party she would be having later in the evening at home. The usual of cakes, balloons, gifts and games I thought….Well little did I know I was destined to be part of a much distinct one….
My young hyperactive cousin barged into the house in the evening after school and narrated in one breath the wonderful time she had at school with her being the centre of attraction of the day, and songs sung especially for her. But her excitement, I noticed, was more for the evening party that was to take place. But strangely nobody seemed to care about decorating the place even after I asked about it repeatedly.
My Uncle just told me to go along with the flow of the day,which i could’nt quite understand then.I had missed out her earlier two birthdays and had’nt really bothered asking details of it,considering them to have been normal birthday bashes.But i saw Uncle ordering food for about 60-80 guests.Later,the lovely evening saw us all dressed and all set to travel…where,i had no idea,but i guessed we were going to some restaurant where my Uncle had reserved seats or space for her party,and sat in the car,silently enjoying the beauty of our city as we passed through it.
The car eventually slowed down in front of a huge old building with high walls around it and a rustic gate.A van with the ordered food pulled behind us.A few words with the moustached old security gaurding the gate,and we were allowed to move in.I craned my neck out of the glass and gaped up at the board high above,and it read…’St.Teresa’s Orphanage’…Why were we here!?I blinked at my cousin in the back seat who looked all ready to zoom out of the car on her fire-heels.Her face shone with the thrill of a kid who was about to see Disney Land!Slowly i got out of the car after my Uncle, and a group of kind -faced nuns approached us and embraced my cousin showering her with wishes and blessings.They were appreciating her decision to return to them on her birthday this year too.I looked on quizzically.Apparently,she had been here two years back on a school trip and had taken seriously her teacher’s suggestion of celebrating all her birthdays here.I stared at my cousins bright face proudly.Before i could pat her we were ushered into a living quarters.I sensed my cousin seemed to know the place byheart,by the way she trotted ahead the others with the nuns gliding behind her.She ran straight into a spacious,well-ventilated,softly painted room and i realised i had just stepped into heaven…!!!
There were cradles all around with cherubic heads shooting up from within and tiny necks craning from the mattresses.Although i knew i had reached an eden,it suddenly struck me who these angels were,and what they were doing in a place like this.My cousin dragged my iced limbs into the adjoining room where i remember just being mobbed over,almost instantaneously as i stepped in.On a frantic view around i saw myself encirled within a group of 10-15 kids all ranging from the age of 5-10 years.My uncle and aunty were not spared too.All of them wanted us to pick them up.One had somehow already managed to climb up onto my waist and seat himself there triumphantly.My cousin was having a whale of a time with the kids because they all seemed to recognise her well.The kids were sweet,but adamant on clinging onto us.I somehow estrangled myself out of a cute little boy and placed him down gently in order to pick up a sweet little girl who was impatiently pulling at my dress,waiting for her turn.No sooner had i placed him down,i found two big tear drops filling his large doey-eyes.His face twisted with hurt making his happy expression drop at once.His face made me feel a lump in my throat.He was not being stubborn or rigid;his eyes displayed waves of sadness,grief,fear and yearning in them.He clearly just wanted to be cuddled,hugged,kissed,just kept close to the heart.I understood the plight of these young children and slowly it began to sink in how they might be feeling,living here,fending for themselves with their group of friends in this orphanage,waiting for occasional visitors to walk in so that they could be patted on their heads,hugged,swirled around in their arms or just…be loved…I looked at the huge portrait of the Christ in their room,and felt His strong presence in my beautiful life;and also in these little ones lives,for they atleast had a shelter and food,with the motherly nuns to care for them.I went back to the time when i used to be a fussy kid who made a big deal out of almost anything,even when i was provided with whatever i wished for.These kids just wanted company;they didnt expect you to play to their tunes;they were content just snuggling close to you even while you sat neutrally on the window-sill feeling baffled,remorseful,emotional,and happy all at the same time. My gaze fell out of the window on my cousin who was helping the van driver along with her group of angelic friends,to unload the food cartons for her simple but divine birthday party here.My respect for her grew beyond her years as her large heart came into distinct view on this beautiful day.My young,saintly yet bubbly cousin showed me how to find immense joy in celebrating a special day by making it rich with her friends from the orphanage.It is true that kids teach us a lot,much atfer we reach adulthood;reviving back in us with instances like these,the old innocence and understanding that we were born with.And the great contentment and happiness which these young celestials harbour with the bare minimum they possess;teach us about gratitude and the true art of living;and also make us realise,how truly blessed each one of us are…..