Standing in front of the mirror, Aakash was adjusting the collar of his shirt, when the doorbell buzzed.
‘Who could it be at this time?’ Aakash muttered as he opened the door.
“Happy cotton anniversary!” His mother hugged him, and his father presented an exquisite rose bouquet.
Aakash was stunned. He was not expecting his parents like this without any prior intimation. They hadn’t hinted about their visit even the day before when they had called.
Composing himself, he welcomed them.
“Ma and daddy, what a surprise? Why did you not inform me before coming? I would have received you at the airport. I was expecting your call on my wedding anniversary, but you astounded me by coming in person.”
“We wanted to give you a pleasant surprise. Can’t we travel 540 km from Ahmadabad to Mumbai to wish our only son and daughter-in-law on their second wedding anniversary?” His vivacious mother, Kamini, laughed.
“But we preferred to keep it a secret and bump into your house.” Aakash’s father, Manohar, grinned.
“Where is Priya? Has she gone to the office? It looks like you are getting ready for work. We thought both of you might have taken an off, celebrating your anniversary together before having a party in the evening. Glad you were home to usher us in.” Kamini opened a red box and showed a coral necklace to Aakash. “This is a gift for my lovely daughter-in-law.”
“The teacher in you is still alive even three years after retirement, Ma. Your rapid-fire round of quizzing hasn’t changed a bit. Priya hasn’t gone to the office, and neither am I getting ready for work. We both….”
Aakash hadn’t finished, and Kamini bubbled in excitement, “Oh, so it is a lunch party. We assumed that like your first wedding anniversary this year too, it would be an evening get-together. We would have missed the fun had we traveled later in the day.”
Aakash, who had left his sentence unfinished, decided to play with the conversation and disclose whatever he wanted to at the right time.
“Good that you took the morning flight and reached on time. Let us have some coffee and then leave.”
“Is the community hall in your building complex the venue, like last year? We saw some men decorating.” Manohar inquired.
Aakash shook his head. “It is in Bandra. Someone else maybe hosting a party in the community hall.”
“Bandra is a posh locality, I know. My colleagues from the Mumbai office always had high-end lunch meetings there.” Manohar said, handing over a gift-wrapped box to Aakash. “Kamini picked something only for her daughter-in-law, but this I got for you.” He winked.
Aakash felt a sudden gush of emotion. Though he was aware that his adorable parents would always stand by him through thick and thin, he was apprehensive about how they would react to what he would divulge in a while.
He sighed, thinking they had come here to surprise him and Priya, but they would soon realize that some bigger surprise awaited them.
“Isn’t Bandra almost an hour’s drive from here?” Kamini asked.
“And even Priya’s parents would have to travel quite a bit from their house. You could have selected from amongst some venues for all to travel easily.” Manohar quipped.
‘In another hour or so, you both will realize why we are driving to Bandra.‘ Aakash did not give his thoughts a voice.
“Priya must have gone to make arrangements for the party. She is an event manager, after all. I will carry the gift with me.” Kamini asserted.
Aakash was glad that his mother had made her assumption about Priya’s whereabouts.
The traffic was heavy, but Aakash tactfully drove through the maze.
“Is something wrong with Priya’s phone? Since morning it says ‘switched off.’ I thought I would wish her and then our arrival would be a bigger surprise for her. Ramya, too, had called, it seems, but had a similar issue. Did she call you?”
Aakash nodded. “Yes, didi* had called up, but I couldn’t answer. I was having a bath.”
“And you did not call her back?” Kamini sounded offended.
“I will call her in a while, Ma,” Aakash said and began concentrating on the dense traffic. He changed gears and gently pressed the accelerator to keep pace with the other vehicles.
“It is already twelve,” Manohar said, looking at his watch.
“We are right there,” said Aakash as he steered the car towards the left. He stopped before an orphanage.
“This is the venue of your son’s second wedding anniversary. Next year we can celebrate the first birthday of your granddaughter Ananya with pomp, anywhere in Mumbai.”
Manohar and Kamini exchanged bewildered glances.
“Priya and I mutually decided not to have children, but adopt and nurture a girl child. We had registered with this orphanage. A couple of months ago, someone left a newborn girl here.” Aakash gave his parent a few moments to ruminate on his revelation.
“We thought of telling you and Priya’s parents once the adoption formalities get completed. But I am glad you both came. Ananya will officially be our daughter at 1 pm.” He looked at his watch and smiled as the minute hand moved steadily.
“Priya had switched off her phone knowing that you would call to wish her on our anniversary. She didn’t want to answer your call and then not talk about the adoption that was to happen in a few hours. Come, let us go in. Priya is already there from the morning. Some last moment official submissions had held me back home. I had promised that I would reach before 1 pm, and here we are.”
Kamini’s eyes turned misty as she looked at her son.
“Why did you not let us know earlier? See, we have come without any gift for our granddaughter.” She pouted her lips in mock anger.
Manohar congratulated his son wholeheartedly, and the three hurried inside to welcome the new family member.
Author: Anonymous (Will be updated on 06/12/21)