Their little kitchen garden was their most favorite place in the whole wide world. Mr. Joginath Mohapatra and his wife Mrs. Jamuna Mohapatra, spent most of their mornings and evenings there, nurturing their beloved plants.
In Bhubaneswar, even the mornings of early summer can get very hot. One such morning in March, Mr. Joginath, after finishing his masala chai, took out his hat, which Jamuna had bought for him so lovingly, from the Puri Beach Festival, last winter. With few of his garden tools, he set out for his daily ritual. He was more than excited to see the plants bearing new fruits. A few new okras, eggplants, tomatoes, chillies and bitter-gourds. The jackfruits on the tree had also grown bigger over the past few weeks. But what caught his attention were the pumpkin-flowers. Being very fond of cooking himself, he immediately decided what he would do with them.
Jamuna was still sipping her chai sitting on a chair in the shade, in the backyard. Some of the days she would terribly miss her sons and her grandkids, who lived abroad. It was one such day. She immediately resorted to her cell phone and browsing through some of the family pictures, paused at the picture of Meethi, her grand-daughter. Her lips curved involuntarily to form an instant smile. However, she immediately got up with a jolt as a message from Mrs. Panigrahi, her neighbor, reminded her that she must get ready for the temple visit and kirtan since it was Ekadashi, a holy day of the month in the Oriya calendar.
Meanwhile, Mr. Joginath headed towards the kitchen to prepare for an Ekadashi special Odiya lunch, with all Jamuna’s favorite dishes. As he was coating the pumpkin flowers with the paste of rice flour for making the fritters, the calling bell rang. Cleaning his hands in a hurry, he ran for the door. His sons, daughters-in-law and the grand kids were waiting outside.
Two hours later, the calling bell rang again. This time, it was Jamuna.
She entered and stood jaw-dropped.
The living room was decorated with balloons. There was a bouquet on the coffee table, of her favorite flowers, Rajnigandha (Mexican tuberose). The aroma of the freshly cooked meal was all over in the air.
“Happy Birthday Maa”, her entire family sang in chorus.
A black forest cake on the dining table read “Happy 60th Jamuna”
Jamuna broke down. But those were the tears of joy. Mr. Joginath had been secretly planning for her birthday in collaboration with his sons, since the past few months. Arriving at two different times, one from the USA and the other from the UK, his sons hid in a hotel for one day just as to prevent any spoilers.
Jamuna closed her eyes, thanking the Almighty for the blessings in her life, for this beautiful garden of love, care and sharing that Mr. & Mrs. Mohapatra had together raised over all these years.
They all posed and smiled as Meethi captured a perfect family picture.
For more of such content, follow us: