He sits cuddled in the warmth of blankets in a cozy corner near the fireplace. It is a cold evening and I can see the wrinkled face waiting for his evening drink earnestly.
“What kept you so long darling?” The voice is feeble yet assertive and it definitely hasn’t lost the command. I smile, “Just got stuck with work Dad, the mundane.”
By the way, it’s your birthday tomorrow. So what’s the plan?
The plan remains the same it has been all these years”, he replies stoically.
“C’mon Dad, you enter the 90s. That sure calls for a different celebration. The grandkids are super excited and have planned a virtual birthday party.”
“Of course my darling! That is all the socialisation I can look forward to in the current times.”
“Nope Dad! It isn’t me you get to blame,” I laugh it off. You enjoy your drink while I freshen up and grab my cuppa.”
Ever since Mom left us a after a long battle with Cancer, Dad’s life has spiralled in many ways. He stayed busy raising the three of us single-handedly, not once breaking down. As old age troubles set in, I moved in with him because he refused to move in with me. So, I shuttle between two cities, managing two homes and many lives.
I grab my coffee and retreat into his warm aura. As he gently sips his drink, swirling each sip with caution and élan, the look in his eyes tells me clearly that his journey to the yester years has begun. One drink being the only sanctioned quota, he relishes it with no disturbance. Once done, the angelic eyes look up, “I still smell her perfume around.” I’m overwhelmed.
His demand every birthday is unornamented; a home baked coffee walnut cake, as per the recipe Mom left in her diary and a drink. I prod him every year as to why no bigger celebration? His answer is, “I will give the reason when its time.”
The D-day arrives; the virtual celebration leaves him in good cheer. Once we are to ourselves, he asks for the celebration cake. I roll the trolley in with a bright candle atop the cake. He leans over savouring the aroma. Once the candle is gently blown, he lounges in the comfort of the chair to relish the cake. His eyes swell as he hugs me and rests my head in his lap continuing to stroke my hair (almost as grey as his now).
“You recreate the charm of all the birthdays I celebrated with your mother. As I bite into the cake every year, I reminisce that this was the first cake your mother learnt to bake and over the years she perfected it so well that the taste remains unmatched except by your hands. I sense her presence around, the nostalgia warms my heart and no celebration compares to it!” I know his lap is tear soaked by now….Memories after all!
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