It was a wet wintry morning, with dew on my window sill. I looked out to see the morning joggers run around the huge ground across the road. I liked gray mornings, they made the day feel timeless. I watched and wondered what the day would bring, when I remembered it was my sister’s 50th birthday. Yes, I had forgotten, well, not forgotten forgotten, but kind of put it away at the back of my mind. And it had suddenly popped out at me.

I sat myself down at my table and pulled out my favorite black diary. I loved writing in it, a dear friend had gifted it to me.

The page looked up at me, like a little child waiting to be told its tale of the day. I smiled as I put my pen to paper, thinking back to the days when we were young, and fought over chocolates, shared candy and lies, kept secrets, and generally grew up at a time when television was a prized possession and channels showed cartoons for a precious 30 minutes a day.

I loved my sister very much, she had been a wonderful confidante to me during my growing years. Of the two of us, she was the prettier one, and she truly dressed for the part. I had grown up looking up to her, but I can’t remember ever envying her the good looks.

My parents always told us we were both special in our own ways. The memories, the chats over tea, the lazy summer afternoons during school holidays made me smile. I so wished I could be with her right now, but she was far away in another city, almost a lifetime away.

Sure, we had kept in touch and shared stories about our boys, but right now, today, I felt it was just not enough. Finally having committed the memories, the reveries and the sweet warm feeling to the pages of my diary, I proceeded to call her.

She was busy getting breakfast ready for her family.
“Happy Birthday, M.,” I wished her. She was pleasantly surprised to hear my voice so early in the morning. “Hey, B., how sweet of you to call. Thanks a ton, B, for calling. But listen, I am in the middle of breakfast,… may I call you back like in 30 minutes?”

“Sure,” I said and hung up. I smiled to myself, the dew from the window had gone, the window was clear, the sun shone brightly through the leaves. The joggers had slowed or so I felt.

I sipped my tea, took a deep breath, watched the lane around my home come to life. Before long, it was time for me to wake up the kids… the moment had passed.

She did call me back a while later, but now, I was rushing to work. We made promises to connect back soon, and I never did get around to telling her just how much she meant to me… then or now. May be, another day. Another birthday.

~ Bharti Athray

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