The Surprise-Birthday-Dinner-Party

Arranging for 10th June, the “surprise-birthday-dinner-party” for my husband, surprised me even more than the “surprise-birthday-dinner-party”! Never having participated in this sort of a creation, no way ever could I imagine that I would venture into the unknown territory of depriving my husband of any of my heart-to-heart secrets. The whole s-u-r-p-r-i-s-e idea exploded into action within minutes, and moved so freely and quickly that before I knew it, I was neck-deep into the event’s management. The directions came to me from me, exactly one day before his birthday. For the next 24 hours – both the idea and the arrangements had to ‘develop’, ‘simmer’, and be ‘carried-out’ with a variety of calculated ploys. Understandably, between the ploys and me: the collective enterprise was electrified by measures of ‘secret’ phone-calls and a quick ‘disguised’ visit to the venue; (a restaurant of a hotel which fitted with the indulgence of keeping the entire exercise under the supreme veil of suspense and secrecy).

The depth of loving my man: as the best man on planet, had sure effects on my evolving decision. With cool mastery, I started planning with the hours ticking… tick…tock…tick…tock… and how the exact part of time was flying by! I was wishing without hesitation, that my man should not come home for lunch. But keeping to his usual routine, my husband came back from office, to have lunch at home. At the table, both of us talked about the weather, a bit of business, my poetic health, and whatever it takes for a husband-wife to discuss. All this brought us to the topic of to-day: The birthday of the birthday boy! Broadening on this, my husband asked me fondly where the three of us (including our daughter) should go for the celebration-dinner. At that point, I was divided into two parts. One part was taking pleasure in capturing his warmth. The other half was noisily racing: thinking of the evening’s outcome...

Ah! The evening. Oh! The evening. Gosh! The evening. Oops! The evening. The prospects of seeing the evening being a clear success were rising and falling rapidly and sometimes, fading away completely: thereby, persuading many doubts to sit beside me with worry. But the worry could not get the better of me. You know why? Because with my years, whenever under a situation of stress, I tell myself not to break my neck worrying. Instead, I was looking at choices for my salvation. I had the following two choices. 1) Sit back with a far-away bleary look in the eyes and do nothing to prevent failure of the event. Or, 2) Realize that if I didn’t act immediately to take the required steps, I would be dead meat. My gut-feeling guided me to concentrate on the second option’s first half, only. Dying on my husband’s birthday would be highly inauspicious, not only for me but for the entire family. Equally important to note is, that of late, I am getting an acute sense that I am anything but meat… leave alone dead meat! Act I must. Act I did. Like Top-Cat, I made the second round of calls, and told the friends, “Be sure you are there before us, and p-l-e-a-s-e do not make the mistake of giving a call to the birthday-man, all through the day. The work and your wishes can wait till you meet him in person”. This was a critical judgement on the part of Top-Cat. Benny boy, who knows who could leak the cat’s whiskers out of a small phrase, like, “See you in the evening!”

What else would I like to share with you, before I come to the candles and cake? This too, has room to be shared! It was obvious, our driver had got the gist of my concealed plot, because both of us had been under the common roof of our car, when I was making a few of those ‘special’ calls. As though he were in great pain to be tested, he pinched his Adam’s apple thrice: swearing in the name of his family’s honour and the rest that goes with a swearer. “Madamjee, I will fulfill your instructions like a command. Upon my word, I will not even let a bird know about Sahebjee’s party”. Of course, the bloke never told a bird, but he did tell the cook and the cook had to tell the bearer. This design could spread! Now in watchful silence I had to observe the trio – all through the pending hours.

Six days past, somewhat in these lines I can gather together my feelings for that evening. The picture that emerged goes beyond the candles and cake, or, the fine dinning and toasting. With what a spontaneous gesture of simple instant goodness, people had assembled! And that too, like an organized staged-work of solidarity and punctuality. I feel such persons possess a very special quality… the ability of listening to the melody of another person’s happiness. These well-wishers… call them by any name… family, friends, pals, colleagues… these well-wishers with the power of their affection delivered the ultimate… to feel new joy, thinking of 10th June – my husband’s birthday.

The Prose-Piece - The Surprise-Birthday-Dinner-Party was written on 16th June 2009.

Geeta Chhabra

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