"Badhreeee....hey....Badhreeee", I could hear my dad whispering. I grimaced in slight discomfort. But I knew it was time to get up for I could see the faint blue sky through the window and hear the birds vigourously chirping from the guava tree and the mango trees in our garden. I made a vain attempt to drift back to sleep and continue with my dream that I couldn't remember anymore. Suddenly, my dad sang in my ears "Happy Buuuuthuday toooooooooo youuuuuuuu"! The song was a comical parody of the well known "Happy Birthday" tune. He gave me a tight, yet relieving embrace and kissed my cheek. My sleep disappeared in an instant and my spirits soared. "Heyyyyyy! Its my Birthday! I am 10!". Memories of the previous night filtered in quickly. I could remember the excitement with which I went to sleep the previous night, smiling in darkness to myself! Excited that when I wake up the next morning, I will be one year older! Lots of wishes, a day wearing "colour dress" at the school. A public announcement at the school assembly, chocolates to distribute, and no admonishments for not completing home-works! But the best part is, I was almost always the first person to celebrate birthday for the academic year. First to wear "colour dress" to school! Pity those who are born in April or May.
My mom said, "Happy Birthdayyyyyyy. Innikki enna sweet venum" (What sweet do you want me to make for you today?) and kissed me. "Get up, get up", my dad nudged, as I realized that there is going to be so much fun ahead. I quickly grabbed my Colgate toothpaste (to which we recently switched from Colgate tooth powder) and brushed. I didn't care too much to rinse my mouth. I was dying to get ready for school. Besides, I liked Colgate's taste. When I got done with it, my dad placed my tumbler of Bournvita on the floor of our living room right by the TV.
My sister, realizing the specialty of the day, woke up, walked to the hall and waited to wish me after I got done with brushing. But unable to cope up with the delay, she slipped back to sleep sitting on the sofa. When I finally came out, she shook her sleep off and briskly extended her hand with a big smile, but sleepy eyes "Happy Birthday!". "Thanks di"!
Paati (grandma) was already up and brisk. She got done with her morning ablutions already. She always gets up early along with my dad Dad offered her coffee said, "Ammaa. Innikki Badhri porantha naal" (Today is Badhri's birthday!).
"Apdiya! Romba sandosham Nalla padiya iru". (Is it? Very glad. Keep well!) she earnestly replied in a composed tone and gulped some coffee.
My brother was still sleeping in the bedroom, but got up as soon as I got done with brushing. His hair still messy, he came over to me and painlessly tapped with his knuckles on my head. "Enna da Koravaa! Happy birthday!". (Koravaa was nick name of-sorts at home. Has enough content for a separate post).
Soon after the morning coffee session, my mom took bath and made delicious Kesari along with her regular cooking. Dad took bath next, removed my newly stitched birthday dress, (a pair of trousers and a shirt) from our wardrobe, set it in the pooja area and started with his routine pooja. My brother and sister were still brushing watching the early morning DD programs like "Dus kadam" and "Hindi news". I couldn't wait to try my new dress. So, I hurried through the bath, wore the "namam"(the straight red line across my forehead) and a quick recitation of slokams I knew. I found my mom's Kesari along with my dress in the pooja area, but I knew that I can't have it yet since my dad hasn't offered it to God!
Shortly thereafter I wore my dress and took the time to savour every moment of it! My mom got done with cooking and my dad with the pooja. Both walked out of the kitchen with my mom holding a box of "Akshadai" (rice coated with turmeric). My dad called my paatti and the three of them stood together in a straight line. I fell on their feet seeking their blessings as they showered the "akshadai" on me.
"Study well, get good marks in exam and stay healthy! Grow up quickly and be prosperous". , said my mom.
"At least from now on be a smart boy!", joked my dad.
"Sowkyama iru". (Be prosporous). That was my grandma.
I had food, kept pack of chocolates in my bag and briskly started for school looking forward to the day's excitement!
Missing those days when all my family was in a single address, and when paatti was still alive and well..