The Birthday Gift

The moon wore a gown with shades of grey instead of its usual silvery attire that night. Pramila twitched nervously, wishing that at least nature could have shown her some mercy. The blaring horn sent her nimble feet scurrying to the gate. A nervous wreck herself now,  she could do without Pravin’s curses and admonitions.

She waited for him to freshen up. Then, those dreadful words came gushing out.

“Pravin, Shrisha has not yet returned from her friend’s place. She went to a party but promised me that she would return by ten.”

“I did check with her college friends,” she hastily added in a vain attempt to stop the changing colours on Pravin’s face. The ringing sound of the blow across her face made it difficult to hear what he said next.

“Gosh! You imbecile woman. You can’t keep an eye on your only daughter. You do know that she will turn eighteen in a couple of days. It isn’t just a birthday, you idiot. I have so many plans for that day.”


After several futile enquiries, they found themselves seated in the police station, clutching a recent photo of Shrisha.

“You must try to find her in 2-3 days time, Sir,” said Pravin the urgency evident in his tone, as the inspector got up to leave.


Pramila returned back to the hostile, dreary surroundings, she called ‘home’. Her tears left Pravin untouched. He was busy making phone calls to his friends, colleagues and his lawyer.

“No Pravin, Shrisha has to sign the papers day after tomorrow, before her eighteenth birthday. Else, your father’s property and stocks will go to her, as per his will. So, find her!”

The short straw had been drawn for Pravin.

Next day, the police arrived.

“Mr. and Mrs. Pravin, we need to make a few enquiries. And search your home.”

They looked at each other incredulously.

“Sir, there’s nothing here. She didn’t leave any note. And no one noticed anything suspicious about her.”

“Leave that to us. Your CCTV is not working I guess,” the sub-inspector gave a superior smile, as if he had made a noble discovery.

Pravin was not his usual, condescending self when he spoke to them.

“Sorry sir, it’s been like that for over a month. We casually ignored it. Did you get through to Shrisha?”

“Her phone is switched off. We expected that, anyway. Do you have any live-in servants?”

“Yes,” they turned to face Pramila as she volunteered. “Satish is our cook-cum-helper. But he left for his hometown last week itself. I just spoke to him. He knows nothing and is equally shocked.”

“Call him back! I want to question him.” the inspector ordered ignoring her opinions.


Pramila could never fathom how the next forty-eight hours passed.

Her phone rang and she hoped it was the first melody she had heard in days.

“Maa, I just boarded the flight to New York. I will be with Lata aunty till my course commences next week. I will share my new contact number soon. Love you for this birthday gift!”

Pic Credit:  Unsplash images – Adi Goldstein









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