Namrata slithered from deep sleep to alert wakefulness like an automatic transmission car shifting gears. It is our second anniversary today, her mind squealed to her in delight. Eager thoughts about the day’s impending celebratory activities assaulted her senses in a rush…….the cake to be collected from the baker’s, the decorator to be reminded about his assigned tasks, her father to be reminded of the party in the evening lest his faltering memory make him miss it, and all that cooking to be done. She wiggled her head, her tousled hair moving as if to display her impatience to get to work.
As she went about her morning ablution routine, subliminally she revisited the seemingly interminable wait since her first anniversary. It appeared to her that aeons had elapsed since that event. She had to struggle to recollect what all arrangements had been on the first anniversary. Did they order a cake from Ferns and Petals? Or was it Indiacakes? Was it a Blackforest cake? Or Chocolate Truffle? She shrugged mentally as her mind declined to throw back an answer. She half-heartedly attempted to recall whom they had hired as the decorator, giving up after a couple of attempts, the images fading, merging and kaleidoscoping in mild confusion.
She vaguely remembered that they had had a guest list of forty and she had found the number overwhelming, vowing that she would cut it down to half that figure for the second anniversary. That promise was broken unrepentantly this time and the guest list for the second anniversary stood at almost double that number, having swollen uncontrollably. She found some consolation in telling herself that most of the guests were directly related to Ashok’s unavoidable obligations at his office. After all, he had had two promotions since their last anniversary at which they had had hardly any guests from his office; there had been just a couple of guys from his office, including his immediate boss.
So many things had come to pass since then. She had perceived Ashok’s self confidence and self esteem rise dramatically once his office realized and rewarded his worth to the company. And as a welcome corollary, she discovered her love life had seen a change for the better — much better. She harked back to her honeymoon and marveled at the change in the romantic coefficient of their marriage.
Her chain of thought about Ashok was interrupted by his yodeling “Happy Anniversay, doll” as he approached her and gave her a congratulatory peck on her lips (a fluid-exchanging kiss before brushing teeth in the morning was taboo since their honeymoon!). They gazed at each other from close quarters, unsaid words adding yet another sliver of strength to their already robust bond. Finally they broke off, both blinking at the same time, their silent glances eloquently holding mutual promise of a bed-borne marital ritual later in the day, after the guests departed.
Before she could inundate him with queries that were vexing her in connection with the day’s events, two sing song voices entered the room, followed by their owners, endeavouring to achieve a semblance of orchestration in a well rehearsed “Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!” Dia and Adi stood at the door, their eyes twinkling with delight. Six year old Dia, elder to her sibling brother by three years, and holding his hand in a manner both protective and possessive, led him into the room as both hurried towards Namrata and Ashok. Namrata’s eyes moistened as she bent down and knelt on the floor to hug both the children in a double-armed hug while Ashok waited for his turn. She kissed them hard on their cheeks and thanked them repeatedly for their delightful greetings while inwardly thanking God for giving her such loving and lovable offspring. She marveled at her good fortune and at God’s kindness to her and Ashok.
The feeling of gratefulness sustained through the day as she went about ticking off boxes on a list she had prepared in advance of things to do on the anniversary day. By mid-day she realized that between her and Ashok, the ‘To Do’ list was undoable and decided to modify the plan somewhat. Amongst other alterations, she decided that there was no time to go to the baker’s and check out the cake; she just called him and told him to deliver the cake at her residence, cutting him off in mid-sentence with an “Okay” when he protested that it would cost her Rs 500/- for delivery charges.
The cake arrived at tea time and brought out a flurry of excitement from the children. They insisted that they wanted to see the cake. Namrata was feeling cramped for time and tried to ward off the time-consuming exercise of unpacking the cake and then repacking it for stowing it into the refrigerator, but eventually gave way to the kid’s clamour for a view of the cake which at one stage reached a crescendo with the refrain of “Cake! Cake! Cake!……” She unpacked the cake and put it out on the table for the kids to coo about. Ashok, who was monitoring all the commotion from somewhere in the house, called out to her, “I hope he has got all the details right.”
Namrata, who had not really got down to that part yet, looked down at the cake’s top solemnly and mumbled the words to herself as she read out, ”Namrata and Ashok. Second Anniversary. 29 February 2020.”
Aloud she called out to Ashok,” Ya. He has got it right!”