Birthday Party

Avanti Kaul Sopory
Birthday boy Ansh had created quite a scene when I reached to the birthday venue, to fetch my daughter.The otherwise chirpy and noisy pizza joint had stunned to an uneasy calm. As I walked in, I noticed the commotion and safely leaned on to the glass pane in a corner.
The theme for the birthday party was ‘Cars’. The partial portion was decked up with ‘Cars’ inspired festoons, balloons, decorations and even the cake. Ansh was emblazoned with his parents and both set of grandparents on each of his sides. Around him quite like a wreath were the innumerable five year invitees and their mothers, standing motionless at the event of things that had happened.
Ansh just after the ceremonial cake cutting had thrown a fit about his gift. He had thrown the fondant cake on the floor, smudged it with his footsteps and then rolled on the floor. All he demanded was Firefox cycle with gears for his fifth birthday. Much against the wishes of the parents, the cycle was purchased, but Ansh now wanted his father to get the cycle to the party venue, so that he could show off to his friends… Phew!! A five years old demand.
Soon the kids were discussing amongst themselves how lucky Ansh was.He had the best gift ever.At the fringe of this outburst were Gucci and CK, clad mothers whispering in the ears of their broods, to abstain from such tantrums and be good children and not like Ansh!!!Unmindful of their recent statement, declaring Ansh to be the best boy in their friend circle…Wonder what conflicting thoughts must be bouncing in the minds of their children.
Unwillingly Ansh’s parents were forced to ferry the geared Firefox to the party venue, under the spoilt affection of the occasional visiting grandparents.
Unfortunately this is not only the story of Ansh, but there are many like him and his submissive parents. Children in these times have an insatiable desire for as many toys and curio’s as possible. And their globetrotting parents, always give in to their greed.
I want to admit that I am no saint, I had a tough time handling my five year old daughters soaring demands and unanswerable questions.
‘Mom, that cycle was very cool. Papa has promised me that when he buys a new I-phone, he shall give me his old I-phone. How nice. I shall take it to the park’, sparkled my daughter. And I juggled between the uninvited promise and the accelerator of my car.
In a flash I was reminded of my birthday parties, which was no more of an extension of a humble family tea party. Samosas, jalebis, potato chips and the pineapple cake from the bakery at the corner of my lane…it was not about affordability but about sensibility. Parents did not spiral down in the show off games at birthday parties oftheir children.
Circa 2014. Nothing pleases this generation. Not even the best themed birthday parties, games, gifts and surprises.Not even the most expensive and elusive dresses or shoes. Not even current versions of on-line games.There is always a desire for more and more.A toy is valued only till it is wrapped, once opened it is manhandled and sneaked amongst the many like it. A parent is important only to the point of them flooding their child with gifts.I wonder if they associate happiness in direct proportion to materialistic things.
The drive to home seemed long and longer enough at the red light. I inched few meters on the same road, when the light switched from green to red again. I glanced at my daughter who had flipped the return gift on the back seat of the car declaring ‘Naah…how boring is the return gift, my birthday return gifts were better than this’.  She was holding the personal size margarita pizza and said, ‘Mom, keep it. I will have it at home’ and in a split second dozed off to sleep.
Soon there was a gentle knock on my side of the window, they were the ragged friends, with cupped hands. This one was a mother with an infantresting on her waist. Soon a trail of small urchins came following the mother hen. Some of them were leaning on my car and some leaning on the lady. Their faces were smirked with the roadside soot and their tattered clothes were grimed. Without any thought, I picked up the pizza carton and handed over to her.Upon holding the box, she smirked beaming with happiness and quickly crossed over to the underbridge shanty. The other kids soon joined and had a bite. May be it was meagre share, but there was a streak of content and happiness in what a stranger gifted them. A quick consumerable, but enough to give them a smile which they will remember for a long time. For they did not grump on seeing a red and blue pizza box and did not flip it to a side saying … ‘the lady in the previous car also obliged us with a similar pizza box’
Kids are what you make of them…