Beep. Beep. Beep. The oven signaled that the food was ready. Mom’s expert hands carefully brought the tray outside and gently placed it on the table. It was a chocolate cake. The aroma made me come out running from my room, and I stopped short, just at the table, staring at the yummy delicacy. Mom started garnishing the cake with cherries, choco chips, and vanilla flavored cream. It was my 18th birthday.
Soon after, guests started pouring in with shining boxes of different shapes and colors in their hands. Smiles, hugs, kisses, and gifts, could not attract me and keep me busy for a very long time. I was growing impatient, to partake the cake mom had so lovingly prepared for me. Finally, dad announced that it was time for the cake-cutting.
There were colorful candles all around the cake, the exact numbers to match my age. My parents, relatives, and friends moved in closer to the table and begun singing the birthday song. I blew off the candles with a couple of blows and cut the cake. For a moment, I didn’t know whom to offer the first piece of cake. I remembered Mom had told me to share the first piece with someone who was close to my heart.
As my eyes searched for a special someone, I noticed Chinu, our gardener’s son standing at the far end of the room, shy and hesitant to step in. I made up my mind. I walked up to him and offered him the first piece of my birthday cake. He was not expecting anything like this. He stood still for a moment, and then a wide smile brightened up his face. He took a bite and asked me to partake some of it. I felt a strange happiness in my heart, the evening seemed complete.
Some of my friends sneered at my act. How could I prefer a gardener’s son instead of my best friends? It’s an expensive cake after all. To me, Chinu was a scary, shy child, my mirror image 2-3 years back, afraid to meet people, afraid to make friends, afraid of judgemental stares. I have grown up to be confident, happy and tolerant; I had the support of my father, who drilled in me the courage to face the world. Chinu needs that someone, the first piece of cake had been my attempt to be that someone for him, to help him grow up into a confident and happy human being.