Tomorrow is my parents’ twenty second marriage anniversary. For me anniversaries, be it birth or marriage are not ordinary days. Ever since I learnt the happiness one derives from a surprise, it has been my obsessive mission to surprise the parents, brother or the boyfriend at the relevant anniversary. Being eternally short on cash and high on creativity I impress them all by my writing prowess and dexterousness at making “awww” inducing cards,hand-made gifts or baking a cake.
I came home from college early. On my way purchased a tin of pineapples, cherries and other paraphernalia that goes into the making of a Pineapple Upside Down cake. I also managed to remember that these nine days, we Hindus are not allowed to eat egg/chicken/variety of other food items due to religious reasons. I was feeling pretty responsible having remembered this fact. After changing my clothes I took out the pans and spatulas, arranging all the ingredients neatly on the granite shelf. I began.
Everything went perfectly. The topping was brown and yummy. The batter smooth and so tasty in a way that makes one want to lick it off the container. The kitchen too was just the right amount of messy. Everything was so good. I poured the topping, followed by the batter, took a moment to admire my handiwork and put the dish in the oven. The damn oven; an evil witch’s scheming coven.
Having set the temperature, I went to my room to clean myself up. It was 1:46 PM when I entered my room and at 1:58 PM I smelt the wrongness in the air. I dashed to the kitchen barefoot just like a doctor rushes to the ER. I was too late. Smoke was billowing from the insides of the oven, I knew it was a lost battle. I switched off the power supply after a minute of agitated cursing and swearing. The charred remains of my beautiful, unbaked cake made me cry. It was tragic. Grief stricken, I realized that now I had nothing to surprise my mom and dad with. The tears pooled up in my eyes and as a reflex I called up my father at his office.
“Paa–paa” I whined.
“What happened? Everything okay? Are you okay? Why are you sounding so low? ARE-YOU-OKAY?” came the staccato burst of concern.
“I am okay. I burnt the cake, I have no surprise for tonight” I mumbled incoherently, in tears.
These words were greeted by a second’s silence.
“Calm down. It is okay, why cry?”
I calmed down. I am nothing if not obedient in crisis.
“I am happy that you wanted to bake, that is enough. You can make one again”, he said desperately trying to hide the laughter in his voice.
“Okay, I will. Bye!” I said, realizing the fact that he was working.
“Bye, chill out. We’ll go driving in the evening.”
I felt calmer and happier. Twenty minutes later my mother came back from her job. Her first question on entering the house was whether something had been baked. The second thing she did was to hug me because she knew from one look that the oven had burnt it. Not me, the oven. She then proceeded to eat the non-burnt part and joined me in cake-mourning. The brother also ate a few bites and said it was delicious.
So now, while typing this I am overwhelmed with happiness and love for my parents, my brother and the boyfriend.
I feel blessed. Truly.