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A Birthday Party with a Difference
by Shernaz Wadia

Earlier in the day, as he watched all the preparations going on, he had seen the gap in the hedge to the far end of the compound. Now the little boy stood in the shadows watching cars and the people trooping out of them. Wistfully he took in the children’s happy faces, their expensive clothes and the brightly packaged gifts in their hands. He had seen such scenes in movies and guessed this was a child’s birthday celebration.

Inside, the festivity had already begun. Laughter and voices wafted out from the lawn. To the left just inside the gate was the indispensable balloon seller. A little further was a popcorn stall, next to him was a man selling candy-floss. In the further corner was a clown amusing the kids with his tricks and pranks. Blue and green lights twinkling on the trees and bushes had turned the place into a small fairyland.

A while later everyone started shouting and cheering as grand fireworks displays splattered the night sky and then spluttered out. It was all awesome but senseless to that little boy. He had only one agenda – to slink in unnoticed and steal some food. With great dismay he saw how so much lovely food was being thrown away, half eaten or with just a bite taken from a tempting sandwich or a mouth-watering samosa.

When he realized that everyone was reveling in the colorful fireworks display, he hedged in through the hole and looked around for a plate of wasted goodies. Soon he spotted one on a chair some distance away. Slowly he inched his way towards it, grabbed it and lurched for another half eaten one when he was caught. A loud shout of ‘thief’ and a resounding slap on his back threw him down and the food flew out on every side. He was pulled up by his tattered shirt, dragged, beaten and thrown out of the gate. He pleaded and cried that he and his brother had had nothing to eat all day, all he wanted was the food they were throwing away but no one cared for him.

Shrey smartly attired in expensive clothes and shoes looked on with distant snobbery. His birthday was coming up next month and he had been pestering his dad to throw a lavish and novel party for his friends. He remembered one friend of theirs had taken them all to Singapore for his birthday. Another had celebrated his in great style in a five-star hotel. Parthu, who was always addicted to animated films, had thrown a costume party and all his guests had to come dressed as characters from his favorite shows. There were Batmen, Spidermen, Ninja Turtles, Shaktimans, Tin Tins and many others. This particular party was good but there was nothing new or exciting about it. His would have to be something very different from all others.

That night, before he fell asleep he prayed “God, please, please let me have a fantastic idea when I wake up tomorrow morning. Good night God.”

And he did get a new idea for his party.

Next morning he went bounding and skipping to his father.

“Da-ad, I have a superb plan for my party.”

His Dad smiled indulgently and asked, “Where do you want to take your friends? Not to Seychelles I hope?”

“No, Papa. First listen to this lovely dream I had. A beautiful fairy entered my room and filled it with a golden light. She wore a snow white dress, had the most gorgeous wings and held a wand that twinkled like a thousand stars.” Shrey’s own eyes glowed like bright stars as he spoke.

“And Dad she said to me “Shrey you want to celebrate your birthday differently this year, right?”

I nodded my head.

Then she waved her wand and all at once I saw two boys huddled together. Their clothes were dirty rags. As I looked at them closely I realized they were crying and the older of the two was the same boy who had been thrown out from the party. They were sobbing and I felt very sad for them. The fairy waved again and then I was standing in front of a huge gate. I had seen it on my way to school. Behind the gate were many little children, some with very sad faces. They had worn clean but old clothes; some had no shoes or slippers. Puzzled I looked up and the board said ...Orphanage. Before I could say anything I was again with the fairy who had the kindest eyes in the world and Dad her face was like Mom’s! Mom is in heaven, yes?”

His Dad smiled and asked him to continue with the dream.

So Shrey continued: “Dad then she told me “All your friends are very rich and have more than they can use and eat, isn’t it?”

“Yes” I whispered not able to understand her.

“Shrey, this year instead of receiving gifts why don’t you give something on your great day? Wouldn’t you like to make these children without Moms and Dads happy?” And with a sweet smile she disappeared.”

“Oh Dad, shall we? The fairy was sooo beautiful and sooo kind. I want to do what she told me. This year I will give happiness to less fortunate children. I don’t want anything else for my birthday.”

His father nodded proudly. Shrey shared his dream with his closest friends. And so on his birthday, they loaded the car with balloons, sweets, cake, lots of other delicacies, some toys and clothes and went to the orphanage. They spent the evening playing with and getting to know those children. They also made some new friends. The children sang for Shrey and finally thanked him over and over again with joy on their faces.

Shrey was delighted. Though he got no gifts this birthday he felt it was the best and most wonderful of all he had celebrated. Silently, he thanked the fairy who had given him this great idea.  

12-Feb-2006
 
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