She walked down the hallway, going back to her apartment. It had been a tiring day for her. She was happy though, in her left hand, she carried the presents she got from her colleagues. The scenarios of the whole day were playing in her head. They hadn’t given her even a slightest clue that they remembered her birthday. And then, there they were in the canteen with the cake and presents. They sang to her like children sing in school. It was all enthralling, but far from home, she was missing her family.
With the train of thoughts still going on in her mind, Rashi searched her purse for the key. She found it and unlocked the door. A feeling of loneliness crept through her. Here she was again, alone in her house. Or so she thought.
“Surprise!!!!” They screamed. She was startled. The room was decorated with her favorite flowers and balloons. On the center of the room she saw two people, the love of her life. They were her elder brother and sister.
“Oh my god!!!! You both came!!!” She ran towards them like little child running towards her mother.
“Easy girl! You’ll ruin the cake!” Joked Rajat, he was two years older and shared a great bond with her. Both never left a chance of mocking each other.
“Why do you care? You’ll eat it anyways.” Rashi fired back. “It’s so good to see you guys! But honestly, you scared the hell out of me!! How did you get in here? The key was with me.”
“Well, someone is friends with the landlord, you know. You can thank me later though.” Said Ridhima, playfully elbowing her brother, she had helped her sister move here. Rajat had planned everything, except the part of getting into her house. He wasn’t sure of getting permission from the landlord. Ridhima’s acquaintance with him made it easy. He had agreed to lock them in, until Rashi came home.
“Go and freshen up. I’ve got some presents for you.” said Ridhima smiling. She had bought them herself keeping in mind all her likes. She wanted everything to be perfect.
“Nah! You can give them to me now itself. Now, what have you brought?” Rashi asked with a broad smile on her face. She tried to look around, couldn’t find anything.
“Not with your dusty and Oh-I’m-soo-tired face.” said Rajat, “Go wash up and put on some clean clothes!” There was a construction site near her building and she had to pass it every time she came home from work.
“Okay, okay.. Don’t go all mumzie on me! I’m going! And you might want to bring up those presents real quick.” She said and went straight to the washroom. This was proving to be the best birthday ever!
After she got all dressed up, they gave her the presents. They had always sent her presents by mail on her birthdays. But, their presence was what she longed for. It was the loveliest of the presents that she had gotten today. After the cake cutting ceremony, they sat and started having dinner together. Ridhima had cooked a wonderful dinner, all her sister’s favorites.
“You have started to cook like mum.” Rajat said in a matter of fact tone. The taste of his mother’s food was still in his mind. Even after five years, he remembered the perfect balance of taste that his mother was able to pull off every single day.
She had cooked the same way on that day.
“Come downstairs fast or you’ll be late beta.”
“Yes mom, coming!” They chorused. All of them hurled downstairs. Their father was sitting on the table reading the newspaper, the usual morning ritual. “Good morning, Papa!” They chorused again, sitting on their chairs. “Good morning, beta.”
“Good heavens Mom! You make the best sandwiches!” Rashi exclaimed.
“Papa and I are going to the market, you want something?” She asked smiling at her daughter’s compliment.
“Had they not gone there, they would have been celebrating with us.”
That day changed their world. They were out shopping for vegetables, when a bomb blast occurred. The terrorist had left the bag in the busy corridor of the marketplace. They were standing a few metres away from it. Shrapnel pierced through their bodies. They were heavily injured, succumbed to the injuries. They were brought home, covered in white linen.
Nothing was the same after that day. Relatives were there for helping them out, but eventually, they knew they had to survive this all by themselves. Ridhima, who till now was the most pampered child realized she had to support her siblings. Rajat, who never cared about money, now started taking tuitions to support Ridhima with the finances. She had just started working in a MNC, when it all happened. Both of them worked hard to ensure their sister got in the right college. Rajat himself graduated and got a job at a nearby city.
“I know you cried yourselves to sleep every night, after that incident. I hated it, that I couldn’t do anything.” Said Rashi, her eyes swelled up with tears.
“Hey, calm down. Let’s not make it a sad reunion, shall we? You have done everything you could do. You have graduated, got a job; you have turned into a fine woman. Just what mom and dad would have wanted. You have done everything you could.” Ridhima said, caressing her little sister. Ridhima had cried herself to sleep till weeks after the freak attack. She was missing them more than anything.
“Yep ..” replied Rashi trying to calm down.
“So, you got mum’s secret recipe or anything? Would help me a lot. My mess’ food is a mess.” said Rajat, now in a lighter mood. “There is no secret recipe. I just remembered that I am cooking for you people, and I guess that’s what made a difference.” The incident that had broken them into smithereens had brought them closer.
Meanwhile, two proud faces smiled and showered their blessings on them as they ate to their hearts’ content.
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