Bright Stars in Dark Nights
Chirag Kumar, an ordinary teenager of the age 13, makes an astounding decision by walking out of his bedroom into the living room. “It’s about time. I wasn’t sure I could venture past my bedroom, but here we are. I’m just glad I can survive in this wilderness that is the rest of our home,” germophobe Chirag records in his vlog. As Chirag strolls to the kitchen, wiping down his pants every five minutes, he turned on the TV for the news. “COVID-19 is becoming a pestiferous problem. Thousands of people are getting infected every day, and there is no vaccine for this disease yet. Therefore, U.S. legislatures are planning to extend the lockdown for another 15 days,” a realistic news reporter announces. “Wow, the media really puts the panic in pandemic. I just wish this disease would end, ” a longing yet tensed Chirag says. As Chirag ponders upon the repercussions of this tragedy, he glances at the digital clock above the stove and notices that the date is 3/31. Then, a lightbulb went off in his mind. “Today is my dad’s birthday. I should make something for him,” Chirag whispers to himself and turns on the stove and gets out the chai powder.
“Aah,” Suresh Kumar, father of Chirag, yawned and arose from his bed. “Quickly, quickly!” Chirag muttered to the tea kettle in response to his father’s deafening yawn. To speed up the process, Chirag poured the chai powder into the tea pan even before the water got hot. In his haste, Chirag added salt instead of sugar, garlic instead of ginger, and chocolate beans instead of cloves. Unaware of his erratic errors, he quickly stirred the ingredients in the boiling water and milk and poured the tea directly into the cup without even filtering it. At the exact moment that Chirag put the tea on the dining table, his dad exclaimed, “Good morning beta. What’s that on the dining table?” . “Happy Birthday Dad! As a tribute for your birthday, I made tea for you this morning with ginger, cloves, and sugar, just the way you like it,” Chirag proudly responded. Suresh lifted the blue teacup and took a small sip. “Ugh,” Suresh muttered softly so his son wouldn’t hear his displeasure and gulped the small sip of tea. “What’s wrong, dad? I thought I made the tea just like you and Amma like it,” Chirag asked, catching his dad’s sense of distaste. “Well, if I’m to be honest, the tea tastes horrible. It tastes salty, has a strong stench of garlic, and has a hint of chocolate instead of spice. Worst of all, the tea isn’t even filtered,” Suresh blatantly responded to his son. “Oh, I must have mixed up all the ingredients. I’m sorry for making your birthday morning very displeasing. I just wanted to make your birthday morning feel special, especially in these perilous times,” Chirag apologized. “It’s okay Chirag. I know you were trying to celebrate my birthday, and its the thought that counts,” Suresh replied and consoled him.
Now, the real question is, how do you celebrate a birthday in perilous times such as these? To find creative solutions as to how to make his dad’s birthday special, Chirag consulted an eminently reliable resource: the Internet. “How to celebrate birthday in COVID-19” Chirag softly said while typing on the Google search engine. The first result that popped up was “Car Parade”. The idea was that people skim past your home in their car holding up “Happy Birthday” signs while maintaining social distancing. “Interesting,” Chirag muttered as he read the article. To execute this idea, Chirag asked his mom, Veena Chandana, to contact her friends to celebrate his dad’s birthday. “Amma, please, can you ask your friends to participate in this car parade?” Chirag pleaded to his evermore anxious mother. “I don’t know, beta, what if the people don’t maintain social distancing? What if we get fined for having this parade? But… Oh well, because it’s your dad’s birthday, I can arrange this event with my friends,” An unsure and tensed Veena responded. “While I get this organized, you figure out how we’re going to disclose this surprise to your dad,” Veena added a little more confidently.
“Hey, Daddy, do you want to come outside?” Chirag asked, trying to lure his dad into the front porch. “Why do you want me to come outside. I have a very important office call in a few minutes,” Suresh responded with no no idea what was waiting outside for him. “Come on, it will only take a few minutes,” Chirag said while trying to drag his father to the front of the house. “Ok, I’m coming. Let go of my hand.” As Chirag opened the front door, he and his dad saw cars passing by their driveway, each car having an orange “Happy Birthday” banner attached to either side of the car. “Surprise!”, all my friends and their parents exclaimed. “Is this all for me? And who knew that orange was my favorite color?” Chirag’s dad asked in astonishment. “It was all Chirag beta’s idea to organize this car parade for you,” Veena said to Suresh in response to his ecstasy. “Did you do all this for me, Chirag. Well then, thank you. You just made this man’s birthday the best birthday ever,” Suresh exclaimed.
Chai – An Indian Tea made with ground spices and other ingredients.
Beta- A pronoun used in India that means son.
Amma- An Indian pronoun that means mother.