She knew it was wrong. Yet, she went ahead. Her mind was in turmoil. But she couldn’t stop. The deadline didn’t matter. Blank pages seemed irrelevant. All she could do is read. All that she couldn’t do was to put down the book. “I really should write a 1000 words every day,” she told herself. But the last words were written days ago. She knew she was being bad. “How can this be bad for me when I’m enjoying it so much?” She asked herself and promised to write tomorrow.
She curved her fingers around his little paw, smiling into his serious looking face. The pinkish nose didn’t move like it would have if he was a dog. But the small pointy ears made a short movement. “Are you happy to see me?” The girl asked with hope undisguised in her voice. The object of her affection purred on like a running motor. He brought out a tiny tongue – and licked her hand. They stared at each other. He let her know that cats lick too.
“Can we go buy a book today, Mom?” His eyes were full of hope. He had asked for a cat book for his birthday. “But your birthday isn’t until next week,” replied his mother. The child’s shoulders slumped in disappointment and he went to his room. An hour later, when she went in to call him for dinner, she found him surrounded by his books. The shelves were empty. When she asked him what on earth he was doing, he grinned. “This is my book party!” The adult laughed. Their dinner went cold as she read out his favourite books to him.
Ritu woke up with a start. It was her birthday. This birthday was even more special because it was on a Sunday — no school! She looked at the clock near her bed and realised that her parents had let her sleep in. It was already 11 o’ clock and her friends were due in just an hour. Mommy had a delicious menu planned for lunch. Papa was busy making the living room look nice. He had bought balloons in every colour possible. Even the sofas were full of balloons.
“Where will we sit?” Ritu wondered, as she came into the room. “Don’t worry. The balloons will float around,” said her father.
The smell of pancakes wafted from the kitchen. An excited Ritu ran to see if her breakfast was ready. She found the hot food waiting on her plate, next to a glass of milk.
“Finish your meal and get ready, Ritu,” Mommy said. “Your friends will be arriving soon.”
Ritu chewed her food faster than usual. “Mommy, what should I wear?” She looked up and found the room empty. Where was she? Even the kitchen help, Maya masi, was not in
the room. Ritu was used to seeing her smiling face behind the kitchen stove, as she cooked up a storm.
Curious and annoyed, Ritu walked over to the living room from where she could hear the television. Her parents were sitting side by side, their eyes glued to the screen. It was the last Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) match. She knew that they had watched the game live on TV just a couple of days ago. In fact, she had watched one innings with them because her homework was done and she had been bored. Ritu waited for them to look up and
see her. She wanted them to turn off the TV and talk to her. But they did not. Upset, Ritu decided to get ready for her friends, who would be much nicer to her, she thought.
Sheena and Madhoo arrived together. They were neighbours. Arijit came 20 minutes late — he was always late. Ritu took them to the living room, where her parents were still watching the old match. “Mommy, Papa! They’re here!”
Her parents turned to the guests and said hello. Arijit sat down and asked, “Tonight’s
the final. Are you going to watch it?” “Yes, of course!” “Oh no,” thought poor Ritu. “My parents are going to spend all evening watching the match.”
So the girls played Scrabble while Arijit stayed in front of the TV. When it was lunch time, the match replay was over. He and Ritu’s parents joined them all at the table. Ritu was happy, although she was angry with Arijit. They ate laughed and joked, until Mommy brought up the final match. “Arijit, who do you think will win?”
He grinned. “Aunty, KKR, who else?” Ritu glared at them. She felt like it was KKR’s birthday and not her own.
Later that afternoon, when her friends had left, Ritu fell asleep. She took a long nap. Her dreams were full of cricket. She saw Papa bowling to Mommy and Mommy hitting a six. She saw Arijit giving her a cricket ball as her birthday gift. Cricket everywhere! Ritu woke up crying and saw her parents sitting by the bed. They looked worried.
“Ritu, we just came back from the bakery with your cake. Do you want to see it?” they
asked, both smiling wide.
Ritu saw it. It was a big purple cake, shaped like a cricket bat. On the cake, there was a little girl who looked like her. She loved the cake! “ I ’ve never seen a cake like this
before,” she exclaimed happily. And there was no mention of KKR on it — it said, Happy Birthday, Ritu!
That night, she watched the match with her parents. They ate cake and Ritu found herself
shouting each time somebody hit a six. Cricket wasn’t so bad at all.
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)