He tiptoed out of the room. She was sleeping peacefully. It was early morning but it was still dark in the room because of the closed curtains. It was her birthday and he wanted to make it special. She was already asleep when he had come home late from work. He was sure she must have assumed he had forgotten her birthday, like all the other times. He smiled as he visualized her surprise and happiness on ‘seeing’ the preparations he had made for her birthday.
He put on the apron and opened the kitchen drawers; searching for the chopping board, frying pan etc. He readied everything on the kitchen platform. He took out the vegetables from the refrigerator and also readied the other ingredients. He was going to make her favourite vegetable cutlets.
He opened the recipe book of Tarla Dalal and followed the instructions.
3 potatoes, 3 carrots, 250 gms french beans, 500 gms cabbage, 2 tbsp ghee, 2 to 3 onions, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi), 1 tsp chilli powder, 3 tbsp plain flour (maida), 2 tbsp chopped coriander (dhania), 2 to 3 green chillies, chopped. Bread crumbs, ghee for frying and salt to taste.
All set, he thought as kept a small frying pan ready on the kitchen platform, 2 tbsp ghee ready to be heated.
He chopped all the vegetables finely. Placed the frying pan on the burner and then added onions to fry for 1 minute. He added the turmeric and chilli powders, added the vegetables and salt and let it cook until the vegetables were properly cooked. He sprinkled the plain flour on the vegetables, mixed and allowed it to cook for a few more minutes.
He then mashed the vegetables, added the coriander and green chillies and mixed well. He shaped this into cutlets and kept aside. He decided he would roll these in bread crumbs and shallow fry in ghee after she woke up.
He walked to the living room and took out the ribbons and confetti from the plastic bag. He searched for the cello-tape in four different drawers before he finally found it on the desk inside the desktop organiser. He shook his head. Maybe she was right when she said that he did not pay much attention at home; he hardly knew what was kept where. He always needed her to find his tie, his socks, his shoes and his handkerchief. She never gave him a chance to complain. He pushed the thoughts aside and started with the decorations. He knew this was not important for her and that she would understand if he did not do anything but he wanted to do it for her. He emptied the packet of balloons he had purchased and put some glitter in the biggest one and then inflated all of the balloons using the pump. He then tied the biggest balloon to the fan. He placed some confetti on the blades of the fan and climbed down from the stool. He taped the smaller balloons and the ribbons to the wall and looked around, it was done. He walked to the kitchen and took out the cake from the refrigerator and placed it on the dining table. He knew it was time, she would wake up soon.
“Shree” he heard her call his name and he answered, “coming” as he removed the apron and walked to the bedroom. He looked at her, she looked beautiful. He walked towards the bed and kissed her on the forehead
“Good morning” both said at the same time.
She then walked to the bathroom and he returned to the kitchen to ready the cutlets.
When she walked out of the bathroom, her face lit up with surprise and happiness. She could smell the aroma of the cutlets. She grinned. He remembered, she thought. She threw the towel on the bed and found her way out of the bedroom. This time she did not call out his name. She could hear his movements in the kitchen. She was at the kitchen entrance when he turned around and saw her.
“Hey, you were not supposed to come out here on your own.” He said in mock anger, at the same time extending his hand for her to hold. She took his hand in hers and said, “Why? Because I would then see the decorations in the living room?” She joked. Tears gathered in his eyes and he pulled out his hand from her grip. She knew he had hurt him, she regretted what she said.
A simple joke was in fact a very serious issue for both of them. It reminded them that she could not see the decorations, even if she wanted to – because she was BLIND.
“Are we not going to eat the cutlets? I could smell them from the bedroom and I had to walk out to heed to the grumbling of my stomach due to hunger.” She tried to cheer him up.
He kissed her on the lips. She opened her mouth and tasted the salt.
“Let us cut the cake first” he said after a while and guided her out to the living room. He left her hand and asked her to wait for a moment. She was exactly beneath the fan. He switched on the fan and the balloon burst with a loud noise. It showered confetti and glitter on her. She spread out her arms and felt the soft touch on her palms. She smiled, then grinned and then laughed; the laughter that spread warmth in his heart. He continued staring at her. She moved towards the dining table. He knew she was counting her steps. He admired how she moved around the house and did the chores even though she could not see and he, on the other hand, did nothing to help. He was the Blind person here. They cut the cake and ate the cutlet. She kissed him on the lips. He knew she had “seen” what he had done for her. He wrapped his arms around her and secured her in his warm embrace and promised himself to be with her as much as he could.