THE OLD MAN

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CHAPTER 2: AT BORGAON

As Prem and Pritam enter the birthday boy Pradeep’s bungalow gates, they are pleasantly surprised to see Jagadeep and Parag with inviting smiles. Prem jumps of the slowing bike and hugs them.

Prem (happily): Bloody Buggers… When the hell did you guys land from Delhi?

Jagadeep (smiling): We are here for quite some time (After parking the motorbike nearby, Pritam hugs Parag.) But where the hell, were you bastards.

Pritam (hugging Jagadeep): It feels really great to see you guys here…

Amol enters into the brotherly bonhomie. Amol is Pradeep’s cousin and lives nearby.

Amol: But we did not felt so great to wait for you, ogres!

Prem pats Amol on the shoulders.

Prem: You wretched devil, you were and are always clever with words.

Pritam (greeting Amol): And, where’s the birthday boy…?

Parag: As usual, he might be eating some delicacy secretly…

And he walks towards the atrium shouting, “Pradeep, come out! Look, Pritam and Prem both are here.”

Pradeep’s father, Mr. Alankar comes out to the atrium.

Mr. Alankar: Is it necessary to wait outside and exchange your greetings? Why don’t you come in, so that we can cut the cake first?

They all go inside; Prem and Pritam hug Pradeep and wish him for his birthday. They greet Pradeep’s parents with a casual, “Namaste uncle, Namaste aunty”. They exchange pleasantry smiles with other not-so-familiar guests present. Mrs. Alankar’s name is Sumitra.

Sumitra (addressing Pritam): Pritam…

Pritam: Yes Aunty…

Sumitra: Prem does visit us on and off to ask about our health and well-being. But why is that, we have never seen you for a long time, dear?

Pritam (embarrassed): Aunty that is because I have a started to look after the shop. On most of the days, it’s late in the night when we wind up. (With a smirk)That’s the reason.

Prem (jokingly): Aunty… the actual reason for his not visiting you is that he is really afraid to drive alone at night!

A small wave of chuckle flows through the gathering, while Pritam haplessly looks on.

Mr. Alankar (beaming): Pradeep! The cake is waiting very impatiently for you, wouldn’t you oblige and cut it.

In unison, they sing the birthday song. Pradeep blows off the candles and cuts the cake. He customarily gives the first bite to his mom, then to his dad and others. The celebration goes on as usual; they apply some cake on Pradeep’s face, give him birthday bumps, then it is time for selfies and photo sessions.

And after all the brouhaha,

Mr. Alankar announces: We oldies are done with… but you guys must have more ways to celebrate… Am I right? (With a mischievous look)

Sumitra (sternly): What celebration? No more celebrations… I have made Lamb Biryani… Everybody get ready… I am off to serve… I don’t want to hear anything else…

Pradeep and friends helplessly look at each other. Pradeep with a childlike face glares at his father.

Mr. Alankar (taking charge): Sumitra, kids are meeting after a very long time and also it’s our son’s birthday … Let them enjoy a couple of pegs.

Sumitra (stubborn): Liquor is strictly prohibited in my house… No one will drink here!

Mr. Alankar: Eh, who is going drink at your house!!

Sumitra (surprised and a bit annoyed): Oh, you have already planned to enjoy somewhere else? (Alankar grins sheepishly) May I ask you where?

Mr. Alankar (casually): At Vitthal’s House.

Sumitra (worried): It’s been closed for a very long time… not even properly cleaned… How are you guys going to sit there?

Amol (blurts out): we have already cleaned it Aunty!

Sumitra (pulling Amol’s ears): you all are a team?

The boys smirk sheepishly,

Sumitra continues: Now if you all have already detailed the plan, then what are you guys waiting for… Go ahead… and enjoy… but beware… don’t over drink and waste yourself.

Finally, relieved to hear those words they happily shout in chorus: Thank you aunty, we won’t get over drunk.

Wasting no more time, they quickly pack some mutton fry to go with the drinks and mutton biryani for dinner.

Before they leave Mr. Alankar warns: It’s dark, don’t go near the river or the dam near to it.

Amol: Yup Uncle.

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