HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHONA

Parul was trapped in a vicious circle of life – meeting expectations and fulfilling demands. Life was totally mundane and there was nothing that interested her. She often thought about wanting a better life but would reason to herself thinking she has everything to make life beautiful – husband, kids, own house, well paying job – what else can she ask for! Even then, life was utterly boring, monotonous and to some extent burdensome because of increasing responsibilities of growing up kids and dynamics of relationships.

Parul was married to Palash and they made a great couple then, but not any more! Palash who was in his early forties preferred long hours at office more than spending time at home. The once romantic young boy had now turned in to a workaholic treading the path of success ferociously. Parul who was in her late thirties had almost forgotten what romance is, firstly because she got very less time to spend with her husband because of his business tours and busy work schedules and secondly because, she had forgotten that she is a wife too while trying to be the best mom to their kids who were older than toddlers but younger than teens. In short, in 11 years of marriage, Parul and Palash had grown distant considerably.

Not that they had fights or arguments, but their life was not the same as it used to be in the early years of marriage. Both of them could feel the missing factor but never complained because they thought they had more important things to focus on – work for Palash and kids for Parul. Both had adapted themselves to a life minus romance, excitement and surprises. But slowly, Parul had started craving for the company of her husband. Each time she saw any of her friend going out with her husband, she would feel a little jealous. She never spoke with Palash about what she felt because she was burdened with the guilt of giving more importance to kids all these years and ignoring her husband to a very large extent, but secretly she longed to be with her husband, physically and emotionally. She would hope that Palash would understand her needs but unfortunately it did not seem like he even noticed any of them. It wasn’t like Palash was not looking after her or their kids. He was a good father. He did manage to spend a little time with kids every weekend. But for Parul, Palash’s behavior wasn’t very pleasant. She craved for his attention and company. But the irony is she had started noticing the difference only after their kids had grown up a bit. Perhaps, that was the time when Parul got a moment to look at her life with a fresh pairs of eyes. For her it was like Palash was there but he was not there! With each passing day Parul had started getting frustrated. She was being grind in ignorance and neglect.

These things started impacting Parul in a negative way. Mood swings, anger, and small arguments started stepping in. While Palash seemed to handle it well, Parul was not able to manage herself. All that she needed was her husband and his attention but she was not getting it. Things worsened between them when Palash announced that he will need to fly to London for work for two weeks. Parul was very hurt and annoyed that he didn’t seem to remember her birthday. As per schedule, Palash was to return home on the day after Parul’s birthday. Parul tried asking Palash if could return a day earlier hoping that he gets a hint about her birthday but all in vain!

Parul felt miserable after Palash left for London and nothing on this earth could lift her mood. She would go to office with a sour mood and return home with a bitter mood. This had became a new routine and on one such day when Parul reached office with a grimace, she was amazed to find a small box placed on her desk. It was neatly wrapped with a pink (her favorite color) gift paper and the sender had only mentioned “From your secret admirer”. She observed the gift for some time searching for the clue about who could have sent it but there was none! Lot of questions ran through her mind, like “Who must have sent this? Is it for me? If yes, why is not addressed to me? Is someone playing a prank? Now who is this secret admirer, does anyone even notice me?” She checked with her colleagues to know if they had seen anyone placing this gift at her desk but nobody seemed to know. At last, she just put it in her drawer and got to work. By the end of the day, she had totally forgotten about that gift.

Next day:

When Parul reached office, she saw another gift box, a little bigger than the first one. Again, the box said nothing apart from a short message which was typed on a paper and stuck to the box. It said “Please do not forget me” Parul looked around and blushed a little when she noticed all colleagues were looking at her with curious faces, all that she could manage to say was”I…. I don’t know who sent this. Its really wei… weird”

“A birthday gift?” asked one of the colleagues cheekily. “No, still a couple of days for my birthday!” exclaimed Parul. She was sort of embarrassed by all the attention that her gifts were drawing. She quickly dropped this gift in her drawer and started to work. But the curiosity stayed on her mind.

Day3:

There was yet another gift waiting for Parul. It read “Tomorrow is a very special day. Please meet me.” This time the note was handwritten. Parul was a little disheartened to see that the handwriting didn’t look like Palash’s. She had began to think that Palash was sending these gifts but now it was clear that it wasn’t him. And anyway, it was too much to expect that from Palash, more so because of the way he had transformed over the years. But Parul was sure about one thing, whoever that secret admirer was – he was somewhere around. He knew her and he was watching her. By now most of the office knew that Parul was getting a gift every day and most of them envied her for having so much love and excitement in life. Casual teasing and leg pulling by colleagues brightened Parul’s day. She realized that she was smiling after a really long time. She was happy but curious. She was liking the feeling of being pampered but she was also worried about who this secret admirer is. What is he up to? Will he create any problem in her married life? She considered sharing this with Palash but changed her mind instantly thinking that he may misunderstand.

Later in the lunch time, she opened all the boxes. The first one had an anklet – the same one she had been eyeing for a long time. She was so happy! She was amazed about the choice if the secret admirer and was curious to know how did he know that she had wanted that anklet since a long time. She thought hard to remember if she had mentioned about it to any one in the office, may be she did to some of her girl friends but why will she mention it to her males friends? And obviously, the secret admirer couldn’t be a girl – or that’s what Parul thought. Parul was full of mixed emotions – happiness, flattering, excitement, anxiety – all at the same time.

Her excitement reached a new level when she opened the second gift. It was a beautiful writing pad and a Mont Blanc pen – both her favorites. There was something scribbled on the writing pad – it said, “please do not stop writing beautiful poems that you always wrote when you were in college” Oh my, was this some old flame from college? Who was he? And how did he remember about her poems when she herself had long forgotten about her passion?

It was getting very difficult for Parul to contain all the excitement. She was thinking very hard about who could be this secret admirer. Her heart was pounding hard when she was about to open the third gift. The message on the gift box had created more suspense. “Tomorrow is a very special day. Please meet me.” The secret admirer wanted to meet her on her birthday! She quickly opened the box and was surprised to see two tickets to the premier show of the movie of her favorite star! What?? She was going to get to meet her favorite superstar on her birthday??!!! Parul was on cloud nine! How did the secret admirer know about her craze for that superstar and how did he manage to book the ticket for the premier show?

By now, Parul’s face was glowing with excitement and happiness. But she wasn’t sure if she should go and meet the secret admirer. That day when she returned home her mood was nice after a long time. Kids were happy to see that their mom is no more cranky and irate. When nothing on earth could help to set Parul’s mood right, these small gifts went a long way. This secret admirer had easily done something which Palash could never do in 11 years. Parul couldn’t sleep that night thinking about meeting the superstar and the secret admirer the next day. It was going to be an eventful birthday this year!

The D-day!

Parul couldn’t wait to reach office to find the last gift. Today, the gift sticker only said “Happy birthday Shona!” She quickly opened the box and couldn’t believe her eyes! There was a diamond necklace – the same she had been wishing for since years but hesitating to ask for it from Palash. There was also a small note saying “Please pick me up at the airport at 3 pm today. Can’t wait to see you on your birthday” A smile broke on Parul’s lips and tears rolled down her cheeks.

The cat was out of the bag. The secret admirer was none other than Palash himself. Parul was moved to see his efforts to make her happy and she wondered how did he plan this execution so well. She was touched to realize that, all this while when she felt Palash was ignoring her to the core, Palash was actually noting her every wish, every desire and he even remembered her long lost passion of writing poems. While she thought that love and romance was fading away from their life, Palash had brought it back with a bang. While she was mad at Palash two weeks ago for not noticing her attempt of reminding her birthday, there he was deeply engrossed in planning all the execution. Parul knew how hectic his business tours are and she felt so special that he made arrangements to return on her birthday! She felt guilty for blaming her loving husband of ignorance and neglect. While she was immersed in her happiness and guilt, she was greeted mischievously by Tara, a colleague – “Happy Birthday Parul. So, how were the surprises since last 4 days?” Parul stared at her wondering how did she know about all this when she sat on another floor altogether and Parul had never mentioned about anything to her.

Slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle had fitted together. Palash had cleverly planned this with the help of Tara. Tara and Palash were batch-mates from MBA and they had re-connected at the annual party of Payal’s office last year.

Parul had fallen in love with Palash all over again. It was indeed her best birthday. They started a new life together from that day. Love, pampering and romance had found a new meaning.

We all hit a phase in our marriage when it gets extremely boring. That is the time when we feel like giving up but actually that is the time when we should hang on the most. We take our partner for granted and over the period of time we stop doing those small things which make them happy. While we assume increasing responsibilities in life and excel in them, we fail to do justice to that special relationship with our partner unknowingly. It’s not that we don’t love our partner any more but we fail to understand how important it is to express our love. Expression of love strengthens a relationship.

I think all of us should make sure to sprinkle some love and top up the relationship with surprises and pampering, irrespective of the age!

Wishing you all a wonderful relationship filled with love! Cheers.