Birthday Present [Short Story]

Posted: September 11, 2015

A fun and romantic short story about a mother whose birthday present from her grown-up children brings her more than she expected.

‘Happy Birthday, Mom!’

‘Thanks. Are you at work?’

‘Yes. It’s 10 a.m. here.’

‘Facetime tonight?’

 

‘Happy 60th, Mom.’

‘Thanks Arjun. Akku was first.’

‘Haha. She always is! Check your email.’

‘Why?’

‘Do it please.’

‘All right.’

‘Bye for now. Talk to you later. Am at work. Goodnight.’

 

‘Did you open the attachment?’

‘Yes! Thanks so much!’

‘You’re welcome. From both of us.’

‘So thoughtful of you.’

‘Go ahead. Enjoy :-)’

 

Dear Mrs Sodhi,
Welcome to Adventure Land where “Doing It Different” is the Definition of Life! Too Old to Do It? Never Done it Before? The Seniors Club is the place for all the answers. This is a membership coupon for the Senior Bravehearts. In three months, you can

  1. Go skydiving once
  2. Go parasailing once
  3. Take four skiing lessons
  4. Take 5 horse riding lessons

Now change your life forever! Bring some magic into it. Click ‘Reply’ to accept this membership.

 

‘Hi Mom, did you reply to Adventureland?’

‘Yes Akku.’

‘Happy Birthday again!’

‘Thanks :)’

‘Super funky, huh?’

‘Yes. Very exciting.’

 

‘How was the party, Mom?’

‘Good fun. Missed you and Arjun.’

‘Yeah! Missed you too. We’ll celebrate in December again, when we visit.’

‘Sure :).’

‘Did you have a retirement party?’

‘Yes. Got a ‘long service’ wrist watch.’

‘Haha!’

‘:)’

‘So no more waking up at the crack of dawn.’

‘Too old to change habits, darling!’

‘When are you going to the ‘Seniors Club’? Validity is six months only.’

‘I know. I will.’

‘Promise?’

‘Of course.’

‘Love you. Bye. Mwah, mwah, xxx’

‘x’

 

‘Adventureland. Can I help you?’

‘Yes. My name is Anu Sodhi…’

‘Ah Mrs. Sodhi. Thanks for calling. We’ve been waiting for your call! In fact, we were planning to call you tomorrow.’

‘Oh? You were? I mean…’

‘This is about your birthday gift from, hmm, let’s see, Arjun and Akanksha Sodhi. Is that right?’

‘That’s right.’

‘Welcome to the Seniors Club. When and with what would you like to begin? How about horse riding? We always recommend to our clients to go for the easy ones first. Though, of course, we know you have adventure in your blood. Your children told us all about it.’

‘They did?’

‘Yes. So, shall I put your name down for five lessons of horse riding? Let me see. You can begin this Saturday. I’ll mail you the instructions.’ Pause. ‘Okay, that’s done. Saturday at 11 at the race course. My name is Nishi, Mrs Sodhi, and I’ll be your coordinator.’

 

Dear Nishi, This is just to inform you that I’ve taken horse riding lessons in the past. In fact, I used to be quite good at it in my younger days. So please assign a more experienced horse to me. Thanks.

 

Dear Mrs Sodhi, Glad to know. Just to inform you that the lessons are given to two persons at a time. Will you have a partner or shall we assign one? Regards

 

Dear Nishi, Go ahead. I have no partner. Regards

 

‘Did you have fun?’

‘Loads!’

‘Was it scary?’

‘Are you kidding? This is your mom! I cantered in the second lesson!’

‘Awesome!’

‘Yup! The other student was dead scared.’

‘Other student???’

‘A man :P’

‘What man? There was a man there?’

‘Yes. Very handsome :)’

‘Mom!?!’

‘Relax Akku. It was a seventy-two year old man with false teeth.’

‘Name?’

‘Dunno’

‘Okay. Bye. xxx’

‘xxx’

 

Dear Mrs Sodhi, Congratulations on successfully completing the horse riding course. Next up is skiing. The artificial ski range is at ___. Lessons begin on Friday through Monday every weekend for the next two months. Please do make advance reservation. Look forward to hearing from you. Regards.’

 

Dear Nishi, I’ll start two Fridays from now. I’m still recovering from the riding:P. Regards. P.S. Call me Anu.

 

Dear Anu, Haha! Hope you feel better soon. Your booking is confirmed. Please find a list of instructions. Regards. P.S. Your riding instructor was very impressed by you. Said you’re very adventurous.

 

‘Skiing was fantastic! Thanks baby.’

‘You’re welcome. Just met Claire. Sent you pics.’

‘She’s beautiful.’

‘Very graceful. You’ll love her. Arjun is lucky.’

‘What about you? You’re twenty eight now.’

‘Well…’

‘??’

‘:)’

‘TELL!’

‘Warm, not hot. Early days.’

‘BOL!!!’

‘Thanks! BTW any more men?’

‘Tons.’

‘Seriously?’

‘Yes. Nobody interesting. Don’t worry :)’

‘Phew!’

‘No fractures either!’

 

 

‘Hi. Just returned from HK.’

‘HK?’

‘Hong Kong, Mom!’

‘Just teasing.’

‘:D’

‘Congratulations! Big hug!’

‘Thanks.’

‘About time too! When do I meet her?’

‘Planning a trip in December.’

‘Can’t wait.’

‘Me neither. Ok, bye. Have call waiting.’
‘In a meeting. Can’t take your call. Everything ok?’

‘Yes. Sure.’

‘Sure? It’s 1 a.m. your time.’

‘When are you coming home?’

‘Told you. December.’

‘Months away.’

‘??’

‘Anyway…Can’t wait.’

‘xx’

‘Bye.’

 

 

Dear Anu, Your next adventure is due! This is the right weather for parasailing, something you’re bound to enjoy. The next group is scheduled for two weeks from now. Instructions are attached. Please let us know of your travel plans and reservations. As always, we are ready to help you with whatever you need. Warm regards. PS You’ve made a big hit with the Seniors Club. Everybody’s inquiring about you. Can I share your contact details with Brig Bhandari?

Dear Nishi, Please confirm my participation in the next parasailing event. It has been a great ride so far. Yes, of course, go ahead and give my details to Brig Bhandari. Also, please send me his contact. Is he also joining this camp? Regards

 

‘Lovely pics. Parasailing looks like fun.’

‘It was. Not at all scary.’

‘You’re never scared.’

‘Not true. You scare me, Akku :P’

‘Haha. BTW, who’s the man?’

‘What man?’

‘Tall man behind you.’

‘Brig Bhandari. My partner.’

‘WHAT?’

‘They do this in pairs.’

‘Hmm.’

‘Parasailing partner.’

‘Sounds intense.’

‘Just parasailing.’

‘No other females?’

‘A couple. Only one single. Others married.’

 

‘So…Brig Bhandari, huh?’

‘Arjun!’

‘Akku mentioned.’

‘Extreme reaction.’

‘Really?’

‘You know your sister.’

‘N I know u.’

‘What’s that mean?’

‘It’s okay. Just kidding.’

‘Stop it.’

‘Is he nice?’

‘Who?’

‘Brig.’

‘Change subject, please.’

‘Do you miss dad?’

‘Bye.’

 

‘Sorry.’

 

‘Sorry once again.’

 

‘Sorry x 10 LLL’

‘Okay.’

‘Forgive me?’

‘Yes.’

‘I was out of line.’

‘Yes.’

‘Why didn’t you take my call?’

‘I was busy.’

‘Doing what? You’re retired!’

 

‘Mom??’

‘Still here.’

‘Come to New York.’

‘When?’

‘Now. Next week.’

‘:) No thanks.’

‘Why not?’

‘V busy here.’

‘All your committees?’

‘And classes.’

‘What classes?’

‘Public speaking. Origami. Spanish. Oral poetry.’

‘Poetry? Seriously?’

‘Love it. U shd try it.’

‘Send me your poems.’

‘Oral. Shall recite when you’re here. December. With Claire.’

‘Not happening.’

‘???’

‘Claire.’

‘Explain.’

‘It’s off.’

‘:(:(:(’

‘She found someone else.’

‘I’m sorry. V V sorry.’

‘Thanks.’

‘Take care.’

‘You too.’

‘Love you.’

 

‘Tried calling last night.’

‘Sorry I missed your call.’

‘Where were you, Mom?’

‘Out for a birthday.’

‘Whose birthday? Mina Aunty?’

‘No.’

‘??’

‘Seniors Club.’

‘Something new?’

‘Adventureland.’

‘Ohh. Whose birthday? Brig?’

‘Yes.’

‘Big party?’

‘No.’

‘Details?’

‘I’ll send pics. How’s work?’

‘Hectic. They’ve cancelled my leave :(’

‘So no Dec visit?’

‘No.’

‘:(:(’

‘Now next year. You come here, please.’

‘Can’t. Too many deadlines.’

‘And birthdays?’

 

‘Mom?’

‘Bye.’

 

‘Are you still mad?’

‘Hi Akku.’

‘You didn’t take my call.’

‘Sorry.’

‘Everything okay?’

‘Yes.’

‘I miss you.’

‘Me too.’

‘Sorry again.’

‘:)’

 

Dear Anu, I hope you’re prepared for the biggest adventure of your life now! The Seniors’ skydiving camp is amongst the most popular adventure sports in our venture. It will be the thrill of your life. Since your membership is about to expire, I would recommend that you join our next camp, two weeks from now. The instructions are attached. Please let me know if you have any queries. I’m happy to help. I’ll also need your fitness report. Warm regards Nishi. P.S. The group is getting together two days ahead. Would you like to join them?

 

Dear Nishi, Please confirm my participation. And yes, I’ll join the group. Thanks.

 

Dear Nishi, Please cancel my reservation for the skydiving camp. Due to some prior commitment, I shan’t be able to attend. If possible please extend my membership since I would love to take up this activity. Do let me know. Thanks.

 

Dear Anu I’m pleased to inform you that your membership has been extended and you can attend the next skydiving camp two months from now. Brig Bhandari from this group also had to cancel because of illness, and has confirmed his participation in the next camp. Look forward to seeing both of you then. Regards.

 

‘Skydiving canceled?’

‘Postponed.’

‘Why?’

‘Had something else.’

‘What?’

‘How’s the boyfriend?’

‘His name’s Jason.’

‘How’s Jason?’

‘Wants to meet you.’

‘Oh? So serious?’

‘Maybe.’

‘Good for you.’

‘When are you coming here?’

‘Not sure. Why?’

‘To meet Jason.’

‘Bring him to India.’

‘High time you visited.’

‘Same to you. Come over and meet everyone.’

‘Everyone? Brig?’

‘!!’

‘????’

‘Facetime please.’

 

‘Hi Mom.’

‘Arjun, it’s midnight!’

‘And you’re awake.’

‘:):)’

‘Why?’

‘Have guests.’

‘Brig?’

‘Yes’

‘I did a search.’

‘??’

‘The Brig. He has won awards. Like dad.’

‘Not like dad’

‘Good looking too.’

‘Haven’t noticed.’

‘Facetime?’

 

‘Good news. Jason has proposed.’

‘Congratulations :):):). V happy for you.’

‘Engagement party next month.’

‘Where?’

‘Here, of course. You have to come.’

‘I’ll try.’

‘Mom! You have to!’

‘Of course.’

 

‘Is she serious?’

‘Seems like it.’

‘Oh god!’

‘Yup!’

‘:(:(’

‘Cheer up. You have Jason.’

‘What about you?’

‘I’ll survive.’

‘And mom is simply abandoning you.’

‘I don’t think she looks at it like that.’

‘She refuses to talk to me.’

‘What did you say to her Akku?’

‘The right thing. She’s too old for a relationship.’

‘Not sure if that’s true. She’s only 60.’

‘It’s because of you. She met him at that camp. Your birthday present to her.’

‘That’s sooo unfair. It was a great gift. You liked it.’

‘Didn’t know it would lead to this.’

‘Anyway.’

 

‘Coming there next week.’

‘Arjun! That’s wonderful! How long?’

‘Dunno. 3 days max.’

‘Oh no. I’m going for the skydiving.’

‘So we won’t meet?’

‘I’m sending you the dates. Can you work around them?’

‘I shall. Dying to meet you.’

‘Can’t wait :)’

 

‘Did you tell him to leave her alone?’

‘Are u crazy? He likes her, a lot.’

‘She’s a rich woman. Dad’s money.’

‘Not true. Her own savings.’

‘Whatever.’

‘He’s also well to do.’

‘Dad loved her so much.’

‘Akku, Dad died twenty years ago!’

‘She loved him, right?’

‘Yes.’

‘She’s 60! Another man? Eww!’

‘Why not.’

‘Are they getting married?’

‘I didn’t ask.’

‘Why not?’

‘I’m not nosy.’

‘You were chicken!’

‘Maybe.’

‘Didn’t you make this trip to check on him?’

‘So?’

‘You didn’t check properly Arjun.’

‘:(’

 

Dear Mrs Sodhi, Akanksha and I look forward to your visit next month. We have decided to hold off our engagement party till you arrive. Your presence will be our biggest gift. It’s going to be a small party, just our immediate families and some close friends. But we’ll make sure we do the Big Fat Indian Wedding later :). Please do ask Brig Bhandari to join the celebrations as well. We’ll, of course, write to him separately to invite him. Warm regards, Jason.

 

Dear Anu, Hope you’re excited about the last part of your adventure camp. Everyone raves about it, with reason. Yes of course we can team you up with Brig Bhandari. He sent us the same request! Look forward to seeing you both next week. Warm regards.

 

‘Thanks for the superb gift. What an adventure!’

‘In more ways than one:P’

‘Absolutely!’

‘You sound happy.’

‘:):)’

‘Akku can’t wait to meet Brig.’

‘Can’t believe that.’

‘It’s true.’

 

‘Hi Mom’

‘Hi Akku’

‘Can I wear your wedding sari for the engagement?’

‘Of course. Nothing better.’

‘Thanks.’

‘You’re welcome.’

‘Can’t wait to see you.’

‘Me too.’

‘Look forward to meeting the Brig also.’

‘Hmm.’

‘I mean it.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. Really. He sounds very nice.’

‘Oh?’

‘He accepted our invitation. Very gracious.’

‘Oh?’

‘Mom, I’m happy for you. Truly happy.’

‘Akku xxxxxxoooooo’

‘Haha!’

 

Dear Nishi, Thanks for your hospitality at Adventureland. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thanks to you, my life has changed forever. And yes, you did bring magic into it. Shall certainly recommend it to all the seniors around me. Love. Anu.

Cover image via Shutterstock

Beyond Pink writes on women's stories in urban India. They could be real or

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