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The best birthday gift

My wife was excited on hearing about the birthday celebrations of our niece Anjani. I realised my brother hadn't bothered to inform me about the programme but was prompt in sharing details of his little daughter's birthday plans with his revered bhabhishree. Rajan Kapoor writes

chandigarh Updated: Jul 05, 2013 09:31 IST
Rajan Kapoor

My wife was excited on hearing about the birthday celebrations of our niece Anjani. I realised my brother hadn't bothered to inform me about the programme but was prompt in sharing details of his little daughter's birthday plans with his revered bhabhishree.


The reason was obvious. He knew I would talk him out of holding a typical birthday party as I am against wasteful expenditure, particularly on rituals.

My brother knew this for he had faced my wrath when he herded the entire family in a rented Tempo Traveller to a religious place to solemnise the 'mundan' ceremony of his daughter. I had objected but he won the argument that day. He was backed by an army of elders, including my mother, so I stood a slim chance. Worse, I had to take part in the religious marathon too. My brother just wouldn't listen to my logic that rituals could not be more important than saving up for the child's future.

Now that the birthday celebrations had been finalised, I could read the tension on my wife's face. Her worry was what to gift Anjani. She expected little help from me on this noble venture so she struggled alone. She went from pillar to post, looking for the right birthday gift for our niece.

Finally, D-day, or should we call it B-day, dawned. The entire family trooped from Nakodar to the holy city of Amritsar to be a part of a religious function. My brother had arranged a havan, a special prayer, on the occasion. I looked on silently as pundits with their ash-smeared foreheads sat in a semi-circle chanting 'mantras'. When all the guests had paid obeisance, my wife and I followed suit.

This was followed with the customary happy birthday song. Anjani was greeted with loads of kisses and toys. She laughed and cried at the same time with everyone fussing over her. Now it was our turn to give her a gift. I felt the envelope with currency notes in my pocket. The moment I handed it over to my wife to pass it on to the little girl's parents as shagun, she asked me to keep it back in my pocket.

Then my wife fished out a CD and an envelope from her purse and gave it to our niece. I was curious to know what the gift was. When I enquired, I was told that the CD pertains to self-defence techniques for girls. And, the envelope contained an insurance policy for higher education. "Empowerment and education are what every girl child needs. This is the best birthday gift for every daughter," she said.

My heart swelled with pride as we blessed little Anjani.

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