Today morning, mama told me she had a surprise for me. I got up and brushed, with her help, and snuglled back into blankets. I knew mama would do something for me today, afterall, it was my birthday!
Everyone came into my room in the evening – mama, papa, didi and all the nurses. Papa was carrying a lot of gifts, and mama a big, big tiffin box. Didi ran to me and made me wear my party hat, and tied up balloons next to my bed. They nurses took my IV drip off – as a small birthday gift, they said.
Papa helped to place the cake infont of me. It was to big, and it had two layers. Papa put on candles – one for extra luck, I insisted – and then everyone sang for me as I tried to blow the candles. I couldn’t blow them all, it hurt my chest. Papa rubbed my chest as didi helped me blow them all. Mama fed me a bite of the chocolate. Oh, I missed eating cakes.
Soon, it was time for me to open my presents. I had so many things, like a teddy, a football, new shoes. But my favorite was the brand new cycles that papa brought into the room at the very last minute! It was colourful, and big, just like me. I bet didi told them that I wanted a cycle, just like all my friends, so we could ride to the park every day.
But, where were my friends? I asked mama, but papa assured me that they all wanted to come, but they had tests at school. They’d all wished me, though, he said. I looked away. I bet they had all found someone to replace me and to share their tiffin with at school.
“How many, dear?” mama’s voice brought me back to Earth. I held up ten fingers; since I was a big person now, I could eat ten pavs for dinner. Mama laughed and served me two pavs, promising me that she’ll give me more when I finish there. I smiled. Mama never broke her promises.
The pav bhaji looked so delicious, yum. Didi sat by my bed and took the plate in her hand. My mouth watered as she fed me a tiny piece. I could eat by myself, of course, it’s just that today my hands hurt from swelling. It was only a matter of time, and then I would finish everything with my own hands. But then, I shouldn’t finish everything myself, ever. I shouldn’t be selfish, you see?
Before I could finish the two pavs, my chest started hurting again. I was coughing and choking, and I was so scared. It was so painful, that mama ran over to hold me tight as the nurse gave me an injection and attached the IV again. They laid me down again, on my bed, and pulled blankets over me. I was so cold, but I knew I was going to fall asleep.
“Mama, when I wake up, can I ride my cycle and go see my friends?” I managed to ask her, before my tongue got heavy. She just held my hand and started crying, with papa beside her.
“My baby will never ride the cycle.” she sobbed, the last thing I heard.