Amrit’s demand for a pair of branded shoes was unreasonable but later his parents realised why he had insisted on having them. Read this heart melting story of an unusal Bihu gift by Rhituparna Chakraborty
Amrit yelled, ‘I need those, means I need those.’ Alokesh said, ‘Come on Amrit. This is Magh Bihu. Magh Bihu is not about gifts. It’s about celebration with good food.’ Amrit said, ‘No, no, no, I don’t care about food. I need what I asked for.’ While making the ‘narikol pithas’(Coconut stuffed rice cakes) Anima said, ‘Now now, Amrit, this is not right. See I am making ‘pithas’(Rice cakes) and ‘larus’(a sweet). And today is ‘Uruka’(The day before ‘Magh Bihu’ where people meet and have dinner with bonfire keeping everyone warm).
“We will have a feast. You know what Magh Bihu is all about, don’t you sweetheart? It’s a harvest festival. Tonight, we are going to have duck meat. You love duck meat, so your father got it just for you and you are throwing a tantrum for your Bihu Gift? How right is that?’ Amrit sobbed, ‘Maa, all I am asking for is a gift. You guys can’t even get me that?’ saying that Amrit stormed out and sat on the verandah and sulked.
It was a cold day in January. The sun seemed to have forgotten to give a glimpse of itself. Amrit shivered in the cold. Alokesh came and said, ‘Son, it’s very cold here. Come, sit with me and your maa in the kitchen. It’s cozy there.’ Amrit said, ‘No! I need my gift.’ Alokesh patted Amrit’s shoulder and said, ‘Did I ever say no to you for anything?’ Amrit was quiet. Alokesh continued, ‘Amrit, the shoes that you are asking for are branded and expensive.’
Amrit replied, ‘So what! They will last for years. They are worth the price. You got me a phone dad. Wasn’t that expensive? That phone was way more expensive than the pair of shoes. I need those shoes.’ Alokesh said, ‘But son, the mobile phone was and is, a necessity. You need that for your online classes. The shoes are not necessary now.’
Amrit looked at Alokesh and said bitterly, ‘You don’t care, do you? You can manage that amount of money. But you won’t.’ Alokesh said, ‘Amrit, we need to save for a rainy day, don’t we?’ Amrit said, ‘Fine! I am not joining you guys for ‘Uruka’ today. I don’t need duck meat. I don’t need anything.’ Saying that Amrit walked out of the house.
Alokesh went back to the kitchen. Anima was making coconut laddoos. Alokesh picked up a ‘pitha’ from a container and while munching it, told Anima, ‘What do I do with this boy! He is becoming stubborn day by day. I thought of saving some money so that I can repair some bit of the house. But no! He needs those shoes. They are so expensive.’
Anima did not say anything. Alokesh continued, ‘Why don’t you make Amrit understand?’ Anima asked, ‘Where is Amrit now?’ Alokesh said, ‘Must have gone to meet Ajit.’ Anima said, ‘Hmm. Well, after meeting Ajit, he will never give up on those shoes. I think, you should go and buy those. Rest of the things can be managed. We can curtail some other things. It’s okay.’
Alokesh nodded and said, ‘But that way, it will be difficult to manage Amrit’s phone recharge this month.’ Alokesh and Anima did not realize that Amrit was standing at the kitchen doorway listening to everything. Amrit said, ‘I don’t care. Phone recharge is not important. For a month, I will manage the online classes with some class friends of mine. I am sure they will let me attend the classes through their phones. But I need the shoes today. Those are my Bihu gift.’
Alokesh knew Amrit would never listen. He went to the market and bought the shoes. Alokesh grabbed the shoe box, went home, and gave it to Amrit. Amrit saw the box and beamed. He quickly unboxed the packet and checked the shoes closely. He told himself, ‘Sturdy with super strong slip resistant grip. Perfect.’ He then looked at the price. Seeing Amrit look at the price of the shoes, Alokesh said, ‘They are pricey. I told you.’
Amrit hugged Alokesh and said, ‘But, you are priceless, Papa! I have been coaxing you to buy these shoes for yourself since eternity. But all you care is about my education, my wellbeing. Papa, do you even know that you are our world. You must wear these shoes to work every day. You work at construction sites. Not all sites give you shoes to wear. Ajit’s father slipped from a building and died, all because he was wearing slippers while fixing the roof tiles. This should never happen to you.’
Alokesh listened to Amrit with moist eyes. He hugged Amrit and said, ‘Happy Bihu son.’ Amrit replied, ‘Happy Bihu Papa, I love you.’ Anima said, ‘Now, that’s what I call Happy Bihu. Guys come and help me in the kitchen. There’s lots of work for the feast tonight.’
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Rhituparna is a content developer and soft skills trainer. An ardent fan of diaspora writers like JhumpaLahiri, she has written around 199 stories so far, some of which have been published in The Sentinel. She writes a blog https://rheetuparnachakkravorty.medium.com/