Sharmaji ka Happy Birthday!

„Hello Madam “Sharmaji yelled, looking up from his balcony
at the flat above. “You, madam, yellow sari. Stop drying your clothes here, all
water drops on my plants. My coriander has died twice.” He tried looking up
again when a splash of water fell on his face along with the blouse that rested
straight on his spectacles.

“Aye, uncle, whom are you calling yellow sari. If I don’t dry
my clothes in balcony where do I?” Leena stretched her vocals to reach Sharma’s ears.

Loveleen ran to the balcony and pushed Sharmaji, “Arre
Leenaji, please do dry your clothes and don’t mind what Sharmaji just said.”

She held him by his arm and as he moved the piece of cloth
and tried cleaning the lens “Don’t you realise she gives us curd, sugar when we
run out of it, I have few friends don’t you get cross at her.”

Sharmaji got busy reading the maintenance bill dated 25th
July, 2014 (today) adjusting his spectacles not heeding to any of what his wife

Meet Vinod Sharma, 44 year old, sorry 43 years, 11 months
and 29 days old insurance agent with State bank of India.  He stays in a 1 BHK house in Dadar with his
wife Loveleen (38) and 2 daughters Pinky (16) and Gutti (12).

“Oh that Tiwari has again charged me interest on maintenance;
I will show him now and teach him what he has not learnt in his MBA.” He murmured
frustrated wearing his shirt.

“Sharmaji, don’t wear the shirt out and comb your hair
before going. No doubt people call me your eldest daughter. Do get your medical
report before coming.”

Sharmaji opened the door “I will get that tomorrow, Loveleen”
and Pinky barged in, “Hi dad.”

“Call me papa.” He muttered still engrossed reading the bill
walking out.

“Mom, we will have a surprise party for dad’s birthday day
after. My friend, Joe has started a DJ and catering service. I have promised
him to be his first good luck customer.” Pinky exclaimed in a typical teenager tone.

“Do what you like, we have a budget of Rs. 2000 including
gift. You have to manage in that.” Loveleen warned.


“Hello, myself Vinod Sharma, have my reports arrived?”
Sharmaji enquired at the hospital.

“Gupte, get me Sharma’s report, put on today’s date, 26th
July; 2014” retorted the plump lab assistant of DR. Shroff.  Gupte, a 68 year old admin found Sharmaji’s
report among the lot that was stacked and handed it to the assistant.

“Take the report and wait for the doctor, he wants to meet
you.” She directed Sharmaji.

Sharmaji sat on the posh leather sofa thinking these hospitals
are no less than a 5 star hotels. He looked at the semi-nude paintings from a renowned
painter what they these days call as investments. The 3 Sony LEDs played
different channels as people in the waiting room got glued to each of them. The
audience was clear, the 50 plus to the screen playing news, the women on the
daily soap operas and the youngsters which had a B grade hero moving his booty
to a C grade song, which after putting on spectacles read TOOH, whatever it meant.

“Vinod Sharma, third cabin from left.” the lab assistant called

“Sharmaji, do you have a very hectic life, are you too
stressed?” Dr. Shroff was a leading Oncologist in town. Sharmaji has a family
history of cancer and thus had a norm of getting a yearly regular check-up.

“No, why doctor.I mean who doesn’t these days.” Sharmaji asked puzzled.

“See it happens, life these days is stressful and there are
treatments for everything.” said the doctor patiently.

“Doctor, what are you talking about? What has happened to
me? Be clear before my heart pops out of my body.” Sharmaji said nervously fidgeting
with his shirt corner.

“Ok, you have a rare cancer; it is grade III and stage III.
Not much can be done but treatment and hope.”

Sharmaji could not believe what he had just heard. There was
no point in doubting the doctor. The drudgeries of life had made him restless,
anxious and to an extent pessimist.

“How much time do I have, doctor?” The typical filmy
question, as he wiped the sweat of his brow and tears that had welled up under his glasses.

“4-6 months, with treatment we can delay it, don’t you
worry.” Doctor placed his hand on Sharmaji’s trying to give hope.

“I am a dying man, what difference does it make 6 months or a year”
Sharmaji stood up dejected, picked up his report and turned to leave.

He kept reading the report  which made no sense to him listening
to zindagi kaisi hai paheli haaye that played the autorickshaw…..thinking
of his investments and insurance policy that he can leave for his family.

Sharma reached home, did not eat lunch and had a few morsels
for dinner. He started looking more ill than he felt. His voice mellowed with
every response to his family. He kissed his daughters again and again.


“How many times have I told you, do not watch movies early
morning?” He yelled at Gutti.

“Dad, it’s not morning, its 10 am and its 27th July,
2014, a Sunday!” She energetically said.

Brought back to reality, Sharma opened his diary (he decided
to keep one since he left the doctors) and marked the day in tally mark III,
“yes beta, Please watch, by the way what movie are you watching.” He said
in the softest tone his daughter had ever heard.

“Eh?” she said surprised at his tone. “Dasvidaniya, meaning
goodbye, the best part is the hero puts on the list of ten things to be done before death.” She replies her
eyes glued to the TV.

“Oh, who can relate it more than me?” He whispered to
himself, thinking no one remembers his birthday.. Well good for them, they will
get over my loss soon, thinking to himself.


Sharmaji had slept more in the last three days than he had
in the entire month. After all he was suffering from a fatal disease and had
only some time left. He got up from his bed at 7.00 pm and walked to the living

“Happpppyyyy Birthday Dad!!!!¨” cheered Pinky among all the
relatives and friends.

“Call me pa….You can call me dad” he said with a half-smile
as people surrounded to wish him.

He was overwhelmed, nervous, and sad but had thought of
keeping all happy for whatever of him was left.

Relatives made merry, talked to him and his answers got even
more philosophical.

The DJ blew the speakers as his daughters and friends danced
to TOOH. Loveleen served starters as Sharmaji sat at the table looking at the
burning candles on the cake.

“Sharmaji, I am extremely sorry, I will not dry my clothes
in the balcony now and you can eat your coriander.” Leena chuckled.

“Your clothes have more life than I do, I am a dying
coriander.” said Sharmaji.

“Oh you are a humorous man.” Leena replied.

What a dying man has but humor, Sharma thought to himself
when Loveleen gestured him to attend a phone call for him.  

He picked up with a more than sad “Hello, myself Vinod

“Sharmaji, I am lab assistant from Dr. Shroff’s hospital, I am
really sorry the report you have is of another patient. Your reports are normal
and you have no cancer. Our admin, Gupte, not being good at computers, typed
the wrong name and mixed it. We are really sorry. Please forgive this. You have no disease.”
The line cut abruptly.

Sharma could not believe what he has just heard. On one hand
he was angry at the so called high class hospitals but the happiness exceeded his
anger, he ran to the room like a guy in his 20’s and shouted out of happiness.
He relished the starters and the cake, joked and lightly flirted with Leena and
even danced to TOOH. However Vinod Sharma being him, did not forget to ask the
DJ how much had his daughters blew cash on his birthday.


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