The topic was “5 wishes and hopes for your children”
I asked them if I could write a short story based on this topic, and they agreed. So, here goes….
“Sangeeta, remember to take some cake for your son,” said Saheb.
Sangeeta stayed quiet. She knew what was coming.
“Are you crazy, Ravi,” asked Madam, in hushed tones. “The cake is so costly. Why waste it on servants? I’ll give her some mithai and Kabir’s old toys.”
Saheb walked out of the room, too embarrassed to say anything. It was always the same. Saheb was too open-handed, and Madam was too clutch-fisted…a marriage made in heaven. She was given lunch everyday, but, it was always stale food, at least 2 days old. Fruits and vegetables would rot in the fridge, but, Madam would rather waste them, than “pamper” her maid.
Finally, after clearing up all the mess generated by 25 rich brats, at an Aladdin-themed party, she was allowed to go home, with a box of 3 day old mithai, and some old toys.
As she got into the lift, she brooded over the irony of life. Kabir had a big birthday party every year. Sangeeta had to work overtime that day, and Saheb paid her a hefty sum for it, but, Madam made sure she extracted her money’s worth of work. Sangeeta didn’t mind, because, the extra money always came in handy, on this particular day.
Her son, Manish, was born on the same day as Kabir. He didn’t really get a birthday party, but, she always bought him a simple cake from Monginis, and cooked all his favourite food.
Today, as Kabir was about to cut his fancy cake, a man dressed in a genie’s costume, announced that the magic lamp would grant 5 wishes to the birthday boy. But, the wishes had to be chosen by the person who loved him the most… his mother. Sangeeta had laughed at the pretensions of rich people.
As she walked home, she remembered that Manish’s fever medicine was almost over. The poor boy always fell ill, around his birthday. I wish I had a genie to grant me some wishes, she thought with half a smile. I’d ask him to grant my Manish a long and healthy life.
As she walked past his school, she wondered how much he would study. He wasn’t really studious. Kabir spent so much time with his books, but, her son preferred to play with his friends all day. Let him study enough to get a good job, she prayed.
She passed some young boys lounging on a broken down car, smoking and laughing loudly. She shook her head. Their mothers worked like donkeys, all day. But these boys were all like their fathers, lazy and selfish. She was lucky. Her husband worked really hard. She hoped that Manish would be like his father, and know the value of hard work.
She smiled at her neighbour, Savita, who was walking with her face covered, to hide the bruises on her face. Two days ago, when she had come to their house, crying and covered in bruises, Manish had helped to take care of her, giving her water and getting medicines from the chemist. She had been so proud of her kind boy. She hoped he would be just as kind, when he grew up.
By now, she had reached her house. She opened the door and saw the look of joy on her son’s face. Today, she had seen Kabir throwing tantrums, for no reason. He had grumbled about his gifts, been rude to his guests, and had thrown a pack of juice at his mother. As she watched Manish getting excited by hand-me-down toys, and simple home-made food, Sangeeta made her fifth and final wish.
Her fifth wish was that her son should always retain this quality, of being happy and content with whatever life gave him.