I love birthdays; my own tops the chart. Come December and I start tingling with this crazy anticipation. The feeling is sweeter than the first sugar rush of a hot gulab jamun on a cold winter night. Or a cake.
I remember the first year I was in college. Surrounded by my new friends and under pressure to make my birthday an evening to remember, my best friend Chow and I tasted pastries at every bakery to finalize the cake. We were young and never counted calories. Instead, we counted pennies that we saved by not taking a bus.
Anyway, I remember painstakingly writing the details – my name , address , date, time and the advance I paid. The man promised to have it delivered punctually at the hostel for Sheetal. On that fateful day, the girls back in the hostel were sick with excitement. The thought of digging into a luscious cake (we really sold it) was going to be epic.
By evening, the room was chockablock. The guest list was exclusive but news of the cake had filtered quietly. In the midst of giggles, cheers and gossip, snacks that were hidden pulled out, biscuits passed around and namkeen packets ripped open. We all waited. There were no mobile phones then and Swiggy, the word was nonexistent.
Dusk turned into dark and a nervous anticipation filled the room. Where the hell was the cake? The group roused up to walk to the gate. Perhaps the guard was holding it and who knows, eating it. Long story short, the cake was not there and it never came.
We had to wait for Sunday to take the bakery man to task; our outings then were restricted to weekends.
Burning with indignation and injustice on being denied a birthday cake, I was all fire and brimstone. He was puzzled; the delivery had been made to a Sheetal as promised and the balance money was paid as well.
“Ok! Who took the delivery?”
“Some boys at the Boy’s School.”
“Are you kidding? The address says Girl’s College. How could you send the cake to a boy’s school knowing Sheetal is a girl’s name?” I could feel my voice cracking under the strain, each note an octave higher.
“But Sheetal is a boy’s name too“, he replied sheepishly.
That day I discovered, Sheetal was a unisex name and a common one in that town. Unbelievable!
Anyway, apologies and refund followed but that was ‘The year of No Birthday Cake’.
Next year, same college, same bakery. In its defence, no one made a more delicious, melt in the mouth cake. Chow and I had another year to sample the wares of all the bakeries in town. This time the birthday fell on a Sunday and we were determined to personally pick it up.
The day was sunny, perfect for a walk down the picturesque road to accomplish that simple task. So we walked and it turned out be another unforgettable adventure. Suffice to say it involved three musketeers, a wheezing old steed, crisp mountain air, ambling through a pine forest and incredibly inspired conversations.
Now that’s a story for another time.
Oh! We came back safely to the hostel with the cake intact. We had the promised celebration and it was epic.
I told you, I loved birthdays. They are magical .
Lens- Artists Challenge : You pick it!