I love rains, especially when you’re living in a city like Mumbai where rains are a big respite after a spell of scorching summer. The first rains are always a special occasion because of petrichor. I love it!! The cool breeze, watching rains from the balcony with pleasant smell of mud, a hot coffee by the side and reading my favorite book, Nothing like it! I am a book lover too but past month or so, have been very hectic. My niece, who is one of the leading architects from the city, had suggested some modifications in our interiors. After lot of persuading, I managed to convince my husband Amol, for the planned changes. Last week was special, we did the interiors and our home decor is looking like a million bucks now. After setting up my home clean and organized with the help of my maid, I got sufficient time to relax for a while. And just then, when I sat on my cozy balcony chair with my favorite book and a cup of coffee, Mumbai received first rains of the season. It’s been a week now since it’s raining almost daily, looks like the season has caught up and monsoon is here to stay.
We live in Nava Bharat Housing Co Operative Society in D Block 7th Floor in Dombivli East. Basically I am a housewife, taking care of my family and managing household affairs. My husband is an Advertising Professional in a leading Ad agency setup in Jogeshwari, a western suburb in Mumbai. He is working in a senior executive role. His work requires him to travel often and stay in office at odd hours too. He says that it’s a challenging job because in a creative profession like his, one has to always think out of the box, come up with crazy ideas and thought process to create a product of compelling value to the client. I am pretty much impressed by his hard work and dedication towards his work apart from his loving and caring nature. We had a love marriage 21 years ago and it has been a great one, with lot of ups than downs. He trusts me completely in whatever I venture into and has been a great support system. In domestic affairs, he doesn’t heed much and gives me complete freedom in running it. For any additional support, he is always there for me. We have a sweet daughter Navya who is turning 17 this September. She is doing her 11th grade in Vidyaniketan College in Kalyan, one of the top colleges from the city. Navya is apple of our eye, our source of happiness. She completed her Class 10 with flying colors finishing 9th rank for the CBSE board. Being good academically throughout her schooling, she is as good as a sportswoman as one could be. She is the captain of Basketball team and has competed at state level for 2 consecutive years. And like her loving father, she is creative and pursuing painting as her hobby. She has successfully completed an international assignment too, connecting with like-minded people across the globe. Overall, she is an all-rounder. I take care of her studies when she is home and needs my help; for creative pursuits she connects with her dad.
Last week, Amol won a contract of a leading FMCG conglomerate and it was a great moment of joy and pride for us. But on the downside, he has been very busy since then to leave no stone unturned to restore the immense trust the client have bestowed in him and his team. So these days, he reaches home very late sometimes past midnight. Yesterday, Navya had basketball practice sessions after her classes and post-practice, she had to attend a birthday bash of her best friend Ramya, my namesake. So I was told she would be late and reach home by 9pm. I was out for shopping to get some traditional sarees for an upcoming family event and just when I reached home at 8 pm; it started raining cats and dogs. I called up Navya to enquire where she was, didn’t get a reply, thought she was busy enjoying the party, so texted her instead. And some time later, I got a reply from Navya that she would be home soon. Amol had back to back meetings yesterday and I was told he would be late. The rain was relentless as could be seen from the balcony and I got busy in setting up my wardrobe and getting the dinner ready. It was 9.30 pm now and with no signs of Navya, I called her again; this time I couldn’t connect her phone. It was getting late enough to be worried. I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rain water had puddled under the lamp post. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back.
It was Mrs. Srivastava who lived in the same block on 11th floor; she came to enquire about her son Rohan. Rohan was Navya’s friend, studying in the same college as her and had accompanied Navya to the birthday party. Mrs. Srivastava was worried too as her son who was supposed to be home by 9, had not returned. She came downstairs to check whether Navya was home. But when she realized that even Navya had not returned, their phones switched off and with relentless rain and thunderstorms, she became more anxious and worried. Even their other friends were unreachable on phone. To further enhance our predicament, even the news showing up on the TV in the background was talking only about the Mumbai rains, inherent water logging and traffic logjams. We had to do something, but were in dilemma. I was about to call Amol when someone ringed the doorbell again. When I opened, there was no one to be seen. But there was a beautiful bouquet of red roses placed with a birthday card on it. I could make out that it was in Navya’s handwriting. It read: Thanks for being here, for being you, I love you lots. Happiest of birthdays. XOXO. But why was it lying here? And who ringed the bell? I checked the whole corridor, checked the staircases, lift etc. but no one to be seen anywhere. And when I returned back to my flat, lights were switched off almost instantly. What was happening?? I got scared now.
I was sweating and shivering with fright and when I tried to switch on the lights, I heard someone was waiting for me eagerly. I could sense that somehow. And once I managed to switch on the lights, I could hear familiar voice of Navya and Amol singing Happy Birthday to me, well supported by whole lot of people singing in unison. The birthday crew included my nephew, my sister, apartment acquaintances, friends from the gym, family friends, Amol’s colleagues, some of Navya’s friends, all led by Mrs. Srivastava holding a delicious cake. Navya came forward and hugged me tightly, wishing me a happy birthday just few minutes before I turned 50. She jokingly said- Mom, I told you I would be late as I was to attend birthday bash of my friend Ramya, I was just doing that, albeit planning it and moreover you’re my best friend too. Amol, who was busy all these days, I didn’t knew he was busy today planning and scheming this surprise for me. If I were his client, I would be mighty impressed by his ideas and the surprise element and sign the contract on dotted lines very happily. He hugged me and presented me a gorgeous dress and a diamond necklace which was exquisite. OMG!! What a stunner it was!! I was delighted by his gesture. And Mrs. Srivastava turned out to be a natural actor, didn’t give me a hint of what was coming. Apparently, Amol and Neha had invited all the guests without my cognizance and were plotting a plan all this while in the community hall beside our flat and it turned to be a huge surprise to me. I went in to change to my birthday dress along with the necklace. And when I was back, I was awed again; the living room was decorated with flowers, balloons, birthday craft bunting, lights and lanterns. Navya, had specially prepared a beautiful cone shaped birthday hat and a sash with Birthday Girl written on it. I felt like a pampered child again. And every guest had a birthday prop put on- someone had a headwear, wigs, feather boas, mustaches and beards, party ties, hair bands, funky eye glasses, face masks, wand, headband and wings. It looked like a well thought out plan and I was very much overwhelmed. Then, it was time to cut the cake and everyone started singing happy birthday for me. Amol had ordered my favorite food from the nearby restaurant and everyone set out for the birthday bash dinner. All this while, my nephew captured all the proceedings of the event, those precious moments of shock, surprise, happiness and bliss on his GoPro camera and we looked at it again and again and had a good laugh over it.
Never ever I had dreamt of such a surprise. I was overjoyed for this lovely gesture by everyone for turning up, making my 50th birthday a memorable and a special event. This was the story I made up, when I was getting bored on a long distance train journey