Birthday parties at home in childhood were special. I remember the cake shaped like a train. I remember the fun and the noise. I also remember the party shaped like a wreck.
A memory surfaces.
Birthday number twelve. A cloudy monsoon day. Afternoon or evening? Twenty five-ish noisy buggers aged 9 to 17. A 1bhk home. Mutton biryani. And a birthday cake in the shape of a steam engine.
The table stood diagonally opposite the main door of the house. On the right of the table sat a chocolate cake, loud and proud. On the left side of the table was the biryani. Between them stood bottles of cola and behind them, mounds of tissues, paper cups and paper plates. Behind the table was the balcony. Beyond it, hung rows of clothes in different stages of drying on the floors below.
Them buggers arrived in ones and twos at the beginning before the deluge picked up pace. I may have been rather busy with the gifts, so i do not remember much. I do remember the house being crowded when i lifted my snoot from the loot. Some were standing on the balcony, some around the table while others were scattered in the kitchen. The parents called me over. The cake was cut. A surprisingly respectful version of ‘Happy Birthday’ was belted out.
The parents then beat a tactical retreat to the neighbour’s home to escape the gowing noise as the music started up and the cola flowed. The cake had dispensed with by now. Sometime around now would be when the first plate of mutton buryani fell on the floor. I rushed to clean it and got busy, not wanting parents to return to a dirty house and knowing that this would probably happen again.
A half-hour later, the walls were stained with biryani and the neighbours’ clothes on the second and first floor had grains of colourful rice sticking to them. Cola had fizzed on to the balcony floor and people’s faces. Voices had become high=pitched squeals and abuses flowed faster than the cola. By the time the parents returned from their short escape, the buggers had already started clearing out. The few who remained were shooed out and the inquest began.
here is what i remember. The walls took a few days to scrub clean. Cleaning the floor was easier. The evening involved going to the neighbours’ houses and apologising in person and as a family. There was different forms of cleaning tp be done.
I have never hosted a birthday party at home again.